Nov 24, 2008

Twilight in the daylight.

I've never fallen in love so fast. With a book. I'll admit, I'm a sucker for vampires but I was originally skeptical of the Twilight series. Knowing full well I'd see the movie I finally decided to break down and read the books first. About three weeks later I was thoroughly sleep deprived but completely head-over-heels. Aware of the craze surrounding these books I passed on the midnight showing and opted instead for the first viewing the next day. I was rewarded with a calm and sparsely populated theater. Turns out the one I had to worry about was myself.

Twilight, for those of you in the dark (haha) or those of you who could care less (yes, you boys), is the story of Bella Swan meeting the love of her life Edward Cullen who, turns out, is a vampire. It's ok though, he's a good vampire. The Buffy/Angel comparisons are only one-sided though, Bella is an average teenage girl who just moved into the small Washington town of Forks (a real place!) to live with her father. Edward's family are "vegetarians," drinking only animal blood and blending in as best they can at the local high school. In this world vampires can go out in the sun and they don't have fangs just to name a few differences from the stereotype. 

The love between a vampire and a human is obviously set for disaster from the start but is complicated further by the involvement of the Quileute tribe who've had a treaty with the Cullens although they still distrust them. What's worse, Edward doesn't even think it's safe for them to be together. This is proved true when a coven of people-eaters discover Bella and one of them decides he must have her. Edward, now accepting of his love for Bella, and his family defend her as if she was one of their own, which she one day hopes to become.

Melodramatic? Yes. Intense? Absolutely. Classic literature? No. The majority of Twilight is written from inside Bella's teenage mind. Over-thinking and worrying about every minute detail of every moment. It's the most realistic reactions you could expect from a world where vampire exist. The problem with adapting most first-person narratives to the screen is you lose a lot of the intent behind the actions. Luckily Twilight the movie did the smart thing and gave us at least some voice-over dialogue from Bella's perspective. 

In the film Bella is played by Kristen Stewart (Panic Room, Zathura) and Edward is played by Robert Pattinson (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). The pressure to bring such beloved characters to life must have been daunting to say the least but both actors play it natural. Stewart as a freaked out but in love teenager and Pattinson as a freaked out century-old vampire who's been empty inside for just as long. The intense looks Pattinson gives Stewart alone will have the ladies coming back for repeat viewings.

Restrained by the need to develop Bella and Edward's relationship most of the ancillary characters take a back-seat. Sure we see Bella's father but we don't see her taking care of him, cooking for him, we see them going out to eat a lot (look for a Stephenie Meyer cameo there). You get about one quirk each for the Cullen family but it's enough, especially with the knowledge they'll be back for sequels. Bella doesn't seem particularly close with her new high school friends though that's acceptable. Here they mostly serve as a backdrop for a normal human existence.

Bella and Edward's relationship, which develops over several encounters in the book is delegated to a few choppy montages. The vampire information sessions could have been condensed down to one leaving more time to show the pair's love growing. For all the moments in the book we only get one real kissing scene and not much physical contact at all. I would think for those just seeing the movie without reading the book it would seem all a bit contrived. However, the vampire characteristics, such as they are in this series, were showcased delightfully. The speed and other supernatural abilities are simple and naturally done without many effects and even the most peculiar of traits (their skin sparkling like diamonds in direct sunlight) was better than I hoped for a budget of $37 million.

Some scenes from the book are deleted, shortened or otherwise substituted but that's par for the course on adaptations. There's nothing particularly jarring that would cause a fan to throw their hands up in outrage unless you count Bella's prom attire (didn't we learn our lesson with Hermione?). One thing's for sure, the fans showed their love this weekend with grosses of over $70 million dollars insuring there's more Twilight films to come. Summit Entertainment, the small studio behind the film, announced Saturday they would be moving ahead with the second installment, New Moon

I'm a hopeless romantic and Twilight's got me hook, line and sinker. Stephenie Meyer knew exactly what to write to get us sucked in and it worked just like magic. See, there were teenage girls in the theater when I saw the film and they were enjoying it just fine. Me on the other hand? I was covering my mouth suppressing a giant smile and squeals the entire way through. What can I say? That's what I'm like when I'm in love.

11 comments:

randy said...

Well, to each their own. I'm glad you like it. And the fact that the movie made like 76 billion dollars this past weekend, shows that there are plenty of people who feel the same way as you do.

BTW, Jill, I want you to check out a theory I posted in the comments from your post last week about DC's cancellations and plans for the Superman and Batman books. It concerns the future for one Mr. Richard Grayson.

Nicole Fulmino said...

Jill -
What is it about these books that make us compelled to be sleep-deprived and obsess all day long? I started the series with Twilight two Wednesdays ago and completed Breaking Dawn yesterday morning. It was a week and a half of complete infatuation.

I saw the movie on Friday and liked it, but of course, it did not hold a candle to the books. This, we get. That is almost always the case.

Robert Pattinson did an awesome job and yeah, it was hard to watch his smoldering looks sitting next to my boyfriend in the theater. I just hoped he didn't notice the fact that I was swooning over the portrayal of a ficticious vampire.

Kristin Stewart I felt was good, but not great. She had the teen angst thing down, but I didn't really feel her need for Edward. Her performance lacked a certain naivate as well as passion.

The kissing scene was so hot!

I also wished there was some more evidence of the way Bella took care of Charlie. That will be important to note in the telling of the rest of the story.

Having said all of that, I really liked it and kind of want to see it again. But not as much as I wish I could read all those books again. Then again, perhaps I should sleep a little bit this week :-)

-Nicole Fulmino

mandyannemurray said...

"There's nothing particularly jarring that would cause a fan to throw their hands up in outrage unless you count Bella's prom attire (didn't we learn our lesson with Hermione?)."

Amen.

I just have to add ... Jasper and the baseball bat? I could watch that scene over and over and over ...

:)

GeekBoy said...

As much as I enjoy a good vampire yarn, I don't think I'll be jumping on this particular bandwagon.

But I did love me some True Blood this season! Jill, I know you weren't able to watch it, being HBO deprived and all. But it just season-finaled last night, so be on the lookout for it on DVD in a few months.

The Nerdy Bird said...

Hey Nicole! I'm so glad you commented. It's seriously like a drug and I'm at a loss to explain it. I actually heard some reviewers didn't like it because it was too close to the book which I found odd.

I'm totally going to see it again soon. And if I hadn't let my friend borrow the first two books I probably would have started them all over again. :)

Oh Mandy! Your pictures are great. Nice touch with the contacts. And yes, Jasper was surprisingly yummy. I'm glad you agree about the prom thing.

I know, I know GB! Everyone keeps telling me about True Blood. I will look into it as soon as it's possible. And don't worry, I won't hold it against you for not getting into Twilight. :P

The Comic Book Novice said...

I saw it, and while I was surprised by a few gems in the movie (not what you might think) they were too few and far between a movie that (for me) just didn't go any where. Leaving that movie I thought "it just HAD to be written by a woman".

I get the feeling that now that the base story is covered, the sequel will be better.

One more thing....she had to use Google to figue out he was a vampire? That would have been my first guess... "hey, are you a vampire?" Hell, people nowadays joke about that...people who sleep late, hate the sun, are pale skinned. But I guess that is just me.

The Nerdy Bird said...

Ok, in leu of biting your head off I'll ask, what do you mean by, "it just HAD to be written by a woman"?

Also, have you read the book?

Randy said...

Comic Book Novice wrote: Leaving that movie I thought "it just HAD to be written by a woman".

Dude, you don't say something like that. That's just wrong on so many levels. A comment like that is why people think we comic book readers aren't able to get dates on Saturday nights.

The Comic Book Novice said...

I didn't mean it in a bad way. It's just that I felt that it spoke directly to the target audience (women). Since it did so with such...passion, I knew it had to be written by "A Woman of the opposite sex" (I wonder if anyone will get that quote).

Alas, I had only found out about the book a few short days before seeing the movie (which I had no intention of watching). I'm sure the book was 100 times better (which is usually the case), but I got the cilffnotes from a fan of the series, so I wasn't totally lost going into the movie.

Oh, I just found out what happens at the end of the fourth book. Very interesting take.



on an (sort of) unrelated note, here is something I found on the internet from a fellow who also dabbles in hypnosis....



"Now, I am a history major, not a physiology major.
Nevertheless, I have dabbled in hypnotism... I think people like this book because they have been hypnotized.

Now, hear me out. Hypnosis basically takes you into a trance, where your focus narrows to one specific thing, and blocks most everything else out. Hypnosis is designed to let someone (or in this case, something) communicate directly with your sub-conscious mind. This way, it passes the part of our mind that has to do with reason.

Now, clinical hypnosis is designed to take you verry deeply into this kind of trance. But there are levels of hypnotic states. We are hypnotized many times a day when we are focused on sosmething. When we watch a movie, listen to a song, listen to a lecture, or even when we read a book.

Normally, these trances are not that deep. However, I belive the horrible writing of these books serves as a form of induction.


Now, an induction is what the hypnotist uses to take the inductee into a deeper trance. I have heard an induction explained as literally making the conscious, reasoning part of the brain so bored, that it gives up control to the sub-conscious part of the brain.
This is why a hypnotist will repeat the same thing over and over (sleepy, sleepy, verry sleepy. deeper), give you an easy story to follow (floating down a river), or stare at a single point (a flame or pendulum). But the trick is to not introduce anything that the conscious, reasoning, critical, part of the mind would be interested in engaging in.




I dont actually have the book with me, so I cant give you a passage to give an example. But you know well enough the repetitive nature of the book, of the descriptions.
Every once in awhile a large unnecessary word is thrown in to keep the critical mind distracted and uninvolved with the main theme of the book (or lack thereof).

This repetitive often monotonousness writing style puts people in a deeper "trance" then you would normally be in when reading the book. The conscious, critical mind is less involved.

Now, you cant be hypnotized do believe something you do not want to belive in. But teen girls already want to belive in true love. They want to belive that they are special. the want to belive that, despite all their flaws, they have Marry Sue charistics that will mean when the right man is introduced, everything will be perfect because he is perfect."

Randy said...

??????

The Nerdy Bird said...

Hahaha, I wouldn't completely disagree with that hypnotizing hypothesis.