Monday, March 29, 2010

Twilight (2008)

"I watched this movie called Twatlight...hahahaha.....It's a movie about teen Vamps and teen Wolves and shit...and sucks and, by the way, fuck it's fans...they are so annoying...they ruined horror for me and my elitist horror loving friends...LOL....Twatlight..."

Well, shit...the above is paraphrasing what most people in the webisphere seem to think about this picture called Twilight that came out a couple years ago. It seems the "horror community" was up in arms that someone would have the gall to make a film with vampires that wasn't aimed at them. I mean, what the fuck is that shit about? These are the same people that revere something like The Lost Boys as some sort of pinnacle of 80s horror. I mean, have they seen The Lost Boys lately? In no universe can that thing be considered good. Sure, it's enjoyable but as an actual work of film it's....shit, I'll stop right there. Now I'm doing what those "Twatlighters" enjoy doing so much.

Anyway, I was gonna go on this whole rant about how we live in a contrarian society where people love to try to convince others why they should hate something they love and blah blah blah blah blah, but I'm sometimes guilty of that shit too. Hell, if I had come to Twilight when it was released I probably would have fallen into the "Twatlight" camp. A couple years has given me some perspective. I'm happy for it's fanbase. I know what it's like to claim "ownership" over things like movies and music, to be amongst the first to experience them. It feels good. Here's a movie made for them. Have at it. I am legitimately happy for you. First they had the Stephenie Meyer books and now they have the movies. That's great.

So, now that I've seen the picture what do I think? It's not awful. It's not exactly good either. The screenplay is problematic to say the least. I think this picture was mostly made for people that read the books. I scratched my head a few times. So, on a script level this is not really good film making. What we have here is a traditional fish out of water story. In this case, the fish is a 17 year old Arizonian sent to a small Washington town to live with her father. Her name is Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart). She's nothing like her name, however. She's awkward, selfish, rude, bitchy and all around not very pleasant. In other words, a typical teenager (if not the perfect sort of character to build a movie series around).

Anyway, Bella moves to a small town in Washington and, soon after, falls in love with this Edward Cullen guy who she doesn't have much in common with on account of him being an old as shit vampire. Edward, as played by Robert Pattinson, is almost as unpleasant as Bella (at least, in the beginning). He broods a lot. On first meeting Bella he covers his nose as if she's farted (it was explained to me that the smell of her blood is overwhelming, but this fact is never made clear in the movie). Inexplicably, it seems like all the kids in this town love Bella. The all american guy that asks her to the prom, the native american that used to make mud pies with her when they were kids, the would be rapists in the back alley, etc.

This picture's not all unlikable characters though. We got Bella's dad, who she refers to as Charlie. He's a good dad, doesn't "hover", loves Bella while having a hard time finding ways to express that love. Billy Burke, as Charlie, gives a strong performance. We like the guy. We got the native american chief, and buddy to Charlie, played by Graham Green. We got Jacob, the native american kid and also the one who has a thing for Bella even though the chances of his affections being reciprocated are small. Um, I also liked the friend...I forgot her name, the one with the big smile and the blondish hair that the all american boy ends up going to the prom with after being spurned by Bella. That one.

In the Cullen family, we got a few characters I liked such as the guy that looked like Lestat , was the town doctor, and also the "father figure" to his little vampire squad. Edward's sister, Alice, who immediately accepts Bella despite her many shortcomings and also was perky for a vampire. And then there's lovable Jasper who tries to eat Bella but later feels bad about it. Apparently, Jasper also has some sort of "mood thing" that he does which is never explained (lazy, lazy script). Actually, all the vampire's seem to have different powers; Alice sees the future (only it's constantly changing on her), Jasper does that "mood thing", and Edward can fly and maybe something else, can't remember what it was (and yes, parts of the movie - especially the part where Edward put Bella on his back and flew up a mountain - did remind me of Superman I in a fairly superficial way).

Basically, the movie is about forbidden love. Bella loves Edward and will do anything (which includes possibly destroying her own family) to be with him. Edward loves Bella but can't be with her because he also would love her with a little salt and pepper. Other boys love Bella too, but she won't give them the time of day. And, then some bad vampires wander into the surrounding woods killing folks and blaming it on giant wolves. One of these bad vamps takes a liking to Bella (as one would like a juicy, bitchy steak) and starts hunting her. It's up to Edward and his family to save her. Also, vampires love baseball. And, sparkling in the sunlight. Yep, they love that shit too. I'd never seen them vampire's do that shit before.

Why did this harmless, not entirely devoid of entertainment value, picture offend so many people? Is it because Stephenie Meyer took the basic tenets of vampires; stake through the heart, sunlight=bad, fangs, cloaks, vampires hate baseball, etc and fucked with them? Doubtful. I think it's simply a matter of numbers. More people saw, and loved, Twilight than saw, for example,the similarly themed Let The Right One In. Is LTROI a better movie? Of course it is. So, why are they upset? Why does it even matter? One picture just happens to appeal to a wider audience, that's all. Don't worry, they're remaking Let the Right One In for American audiences (shudder).

In Meyer's world the only way to kill a vampire is to tear him/her apart and then burn the pieces. This happens. Unfortunately it's just hinted at. One thing she doesn't get into is how vampires have sex. Could have used some sex. They don't eat or drink normal food. Do they take a pee? Drop the kids off at the pool? Would the doctor comment on all the blood in their stool? I guess when you're immortal you don't see a doctor. In the case of Ed's family, his dad's a doctor so that particular base is covered not that he'd ever have to see him. Just in case he got a sun rash or something.

Anyway, this picture wasn't made for me but that's fine. I sort of enjoyed it. I still don't like Bella or Edward. Maybe they improve as the series goes on. She is, after all, only 17. Plenty of time to mature. Edward on the other hand is 109? He's out of excuses. Thankfully, Catherine Hardwicke (the director) has made a picture that's, at least, pretty to look at. One thing I found odd, and potentially interesting, was that Edward and his "siblings" actually bothered going to high school. After a scene during science class, where he identified some shit in his microscope that he barely looked at (as if he's taken that class before!), the fact that he's been at the same grade level for decades isn't really addressed. I also would have liked some more high school shit, in general. Could have used some bullying or some shit by the "normal" kids as well. Also, what did the "normal" goth kids at school think of the "abnormal" goth kids? Missed opportunity in my opinion.

So, yeah. I watched Twilight and didn't hate it as much as I was supposed to. Wanna fight about it?

Also, I can finally watch my copy of the super lame Taintlight and know why that shit is supposed to be funny.


maggie said...

Nicely put. I like the part about the bitchy steak. And the salt and pepper. I think the friends name is Mike. That actor actually tried out to play Edward in the movie but his hair just didn't make the cut. P.S. Jasper doesn't actually try to eat Bella until New Moon. You gonna review that one too? P.P.S. your not really gonna watch Taintlight again are you?

elmo said...

My complaints against the material are a wee bit more intellectual than the d-bags you quoted(e.g. I won't be typing **** anytime soon). I find Bella absolutely odious as a female lead, even role model, in that she does nothing but get into trouble (because she is of course the center of everyone's world). And naturally Edward has to save her. Is that really Meyer's idea of romance?

It's instructive to look at the male-scripted version of this story, which is Buffy. Angel is attracted to her because she is not a typical self-absorbed teen. She's smart, got a lot of pressure on her, and stands up for herself- hallmarks of adulthood, actually.

The idea that Bella is totally average, has not a single accomplishment to her name (has flipped the bitch-switch) , and still scored the most desirable creature in her orbit, is a bit of an infantile fantasy (one that a mormon housewife might have? Couldn't say, not judging). It's the same reason I hate Jud Apatow films. His stoned losers couldn't catch a quality woman with a game-hunting net.

Sigh- my longest, rantiest post- all done.

brian said...

I agree. Bella as a character is pretty much a deal breaker for me genuinely liking Twilight. She wasn't likable, yet everyone in the movie liked her (and more). However, I'm not sure Edward is any great shakes either. Those two probably deserve each other. Jacob, on the other hand, should just keep fishing.

Still, I don't think the picture deserves widespread disdain. It's too fluffy. Should be ignored rather than hated (mainly because the people doing the hating knew they'd hate it beforehand or....gasp...haven't even seen it!).

Regarding Apatow: Yeah, but they're stoned, sweet, and funny losers! (ok, ok...I didn't really like Knocked Up).

brian said...

Maggie, I don't think I'll ever watch Taintlight again. Do you want it back?

Jeff said...

Most of the Twilight hate I've seen spills over from the books -- as Stephanie Meyer's prose is excruciatingly painful to read. Wish fulfillment fantasy is nothing new (see Harry Potter, Spider-Man, etc.); Twilight happened to capture the Princess Sparkle Pony market, but did so with incredibly bad fiction. As I understand it, the movie removed from the book context still suffers from the characterization problems (Bella as Mary Sue, Edward as creepy fucking stalker yet still object of desire), but avoids the turgid prose which draws the ire of those who think raging fangirlism should be directed towards stuff that is actually worth reading.

brian said...

I don't know Jeff. I can't comment on the quality of the writing in Twilight because I haven't read it. I do know several people, smart people I might add, that love the books and the writing. I guess it's just a matter of singling shit out that got popular. I imagine there's much worse stuff out there (maybe most of the teen vamp shit Twilight spawned?).

Also, I get the sense that the vast majority of people ripping on Twilight haven't read the series. If they hate it fine, but can't we just leave it at that?