After months of anticipation, Twilight hit the big screen this past weekend, playing to hundreds of sold-out theaters full of eager fans. Based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer, Twilight chronicles the story of 17-year-old Bella Swan, a newcomer to dreary Forks, Wash., who meets and falls in love with handsome vampire Edward Cullen (For a complete synopsis, check out Lisa’s book review here).
Director Catherine Hardwicke had her work cut out for her in making a cinematic version of the bestseller. To begin, she had thousands of die-hard Twilight fans who would want to see good casting and a movie that closely follows the book. Beyond that, she also had the challenge of taking a book where a lot of the action takes place in the mind of the main character — making it sometimes difficult to translate the story to film.
I loved the book. And I really wanted to like the movie. I was willing to forgive it a multitude of sins, but the fact is, it isn’t nearly as engrossing as the book. In the end, the mistakes that were made — overacting, cheesy dialogue and bad makeup (to name a few) were impossible to overlook.
The general gist of Twilight has been loosely preserved in the movie adaptation, but if you’re looking for a meticulous chronological retelling of the book — a la Harry Potter — you won’t find it here. Several scenes from the book have been omitted entirely.
Perhaps most disappointing, the flirtatious banter that takes place throughout the book between Bella and Edward was edited down to a dribble. The famous “meadow scene” where they declare their love for each other was cut drastically short and happens very differently from the book’s account. To make matters worse, the scenes that were added did very little to forward the plot, and I found myself wondering why they were added at all.
The end result was that you don’t get to watch the relationship between Edward and Bella grow. You don’t feel the intensity of their passion. The relationship — which is the story — ends up feeling rushed and forced.
For the record, I do find Robert Pattinson absolutely dreamy — he was cast well. But while he does a good job of portraying the brooding and serious side of Edward, his character doesn’t get enough opportunities to show his charming side. We rarely see Edward smile or joke. He looks at Bella with either a psychotic intensity or as if he had been crying for hours before. As a moviegoer, I’m supposed to be in love with this vampire for two hours. Instead, I found myself wondering — aside from his looks — why Bella is attracted to him at all.
The movie’s pivotal scenes were often overacted to the point of being almost campy. When Bella walks into biology class and Edward is close enough to catch her scent for the first time, he looks like he’s suffering from a bad case of food poisoning — not intense desire. When Edward reveals himself to Bella for the first time, sparkling in the sunlight, the bad makeup and cheesy dialogue make it hard to focus on what’s supposed to be a touching, intimate moment.
But, for all its missteps, Twilight did get a few things right. It handled the “action scenes” (the baseball game, the final confrontation at the ballet studio) fairly well — and the vampire casting (both of the Cullen clan and the three others) was spot on.
Twilight sucked in nearly $70 million at the box office this past weekend, making it the fourth biggest movie premiere of the year. That finish guarantees the next book in Meyer’s series, New Moon, will be on the big screen soon. Hopefully, with an increased budget and a critical eye toward the mistakes made in the first movie, there will be significant improvements for the next installment.
If you haven’t read the books, don’t let the movie deter you from indulging in a truly great read. And for those of you who have read the books and are looking to merely indulge in an Edward Cullen fix, save yourself the money and just reread the books.
Michelle blogs regularly about life and family at her personal blog, Life with Three.