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27th January
2009
written by Tony
"Hold on tight, Spider Monkey." WTF? Who writes this stuff? Kill yourself!

"Hold on tight, Spider Monkey." WTF? Who writes this stuff? Kill yourself!

Oh. My. God. So, apparently, Steph watched this movie one day when she was cloistered in the apartment with some sort of (clearly) mind-altering illness. She confessed it all to me, and also said she felt embarrassed to be watching the movie, even though it was on her laptop, behind closed doors and she was alone. I think that’s about right. How she cajoled me into watching this movie is still a bit of a mystery. Perhaps it was with the promise that I would get to flay it in a review, which I intend to do. Perhaps it was simply so I could know for myself. I’m not sure if I regret it yet or not. Let me warn you dear reader, there are a lot of spoilers in this review, so if you haven’t seen Twilight yet and plan to watch the movie, don’t. Read this review instead. I would have said that this was the worst movie of 2008 (and possibly ever) if it weren’t for Love Guru. I do not need to see Love Guru to know I hate it and, by extension, Mike Myers. Love Guru is like salt in a paper-cut (from one of those nasty manila folders) in the web between your thumb and index finger after you have been run over by a garbage truck full of used diapers. It’s like the aunt you don’t like who always wants a kiss and always has coffee/offal breath and will never let you go for the cheek. Nope, full on the lips buddy. Anyway, Love Guru aside, Twilight is one hell of a bad movie, and I can only assume that if it bears any resemblance to the book, the book must be one of the worst pieces of tripe ever written. And I’m not sorry that this is going to destroy any street-cred I may have had in the 12 year-old girl department either. If they like this crap, I don’t want to talk to them anyway. Let’s begin with an objective look at the movie itself. We’ll deal with the particular idioms of the characters later. I think that perhaps the most glaring omission from the film is acting. I don’t think wooden even begins to describe what these people are doing on the screen. Not since Hayden Christenson in his Star Wars days have I seen lines delivered with such lack of verve, such insincerity, such an utter dearth of caring and investment in the role. Bella’s (Kristen Stewart) big acting innovation appears to be blinking. Lots of blinking means she’s excited. Or scared. Or happy. I really don’t know. Edward (Robert Pattinson) is just delivering his lines. No more, no less. He knows he is getting paid to be eye candy, and seemingly does not care. About anything. Surely the music helps to set the tone that the actors fail to achieve, right? No. The score is confused, at best. 90% of the time the music does not match what is happening on screen and is needlessly overpowering and out of place. The soundtrack appears to mostly be some sort of musical homage to the power rock guitar riffs of the mid eighties. We have Edward and Bella sitting in a classroom talking (about how much he hates her or something) and in the background we have these screaming guitar tones laid over some sort of almost jungle beat, pulsing as though some sort of spandex-clad, quasi-futuristic, Blade Runner-esque floating car chase is happening, not this prosaic interaction that makes us wonder what either participant could see in the other. Or how about when the music is so frenetic that we’re sure the world is about to collapse while Edward and Bella walk into the woods for the big revelation about the whole “them” situation? But when they get to the woods, and the mood is set to be tense and exciting, the music stops, and instead we are left to focus on the stiffly delivered dialogue. I will say that there are two very good songs in this film, one by Muse (during a confusing and ridiculous “vampire league” baseball game in the forest) and one by Iron and Wine (during an awkward prom). Twilight is entirely undeserving of these songs, and, naturally, they are put to ill use. The cinematography is probably the only other part of this movie that is any good. And that is low praise, I assure you.
"Are you scared?" "No." "Well you shoud be." "Well I'm not!"

"Are you scared?" "No." "Well you shoud be." "Well I'm not!"

Let’s move on to the characters themselves, shall we? Let me get this out of the way: the only character I can stand is Bella’s father. He seems to know how to act to some degree and is really the only interesting and semi-genuine character in the film. Bella, however, is quite another story. To say Bella is awkward and terrible is understatement. Bad acting aside, the simple motivations that might drive a normal character seem to be missing, and I can only assume this is carried over from the original text. Why is she so interested in Edward? It’s established early on that he is attractive (or supposed to be) but other than that (and a nice car), he has no redeeming qualities. He is a complete cad and engages in out and out rude behavior towards Bella. His companions are much the same. They are an elitist group that willingly avoids contact with anyone else in the school altogether. So, obviously the appeal is there right? He snubs her, seems to be choked and offended by her scent and is generally callous in every way, so naturally she would be drawn to him. He’s pretty!!! OMG!! So we’re shown that Bella is the worst kind of shallow. She can’t stand that he isn’t in to her, in fact she can’t even fathom why this would be and since he is so attractive physically, she simply must know the truth. So she is not only shallow, but oblivious as well. I mean, why would someone indicate that they want nothing to do with you? It must be something less obvious than general distaste. And, in Stephenie Myer’s delusional teenage romance world, it is (of course) more subtle and terrifying. Edward is a Vampire. With Edward and his “family” Stephenie Myer has created her own special breed of Vampire, one that is physically irresistible, one that is super fast, super strong and can defy the laws of physics at will (cars are big and heavy, and, unless you are attached to something much heavier or are heavier yourself, you’re not stopping one with your hand, regardless of how strong or invincible you are). Oh, and when a Vampire goes into direct sunlight, rather than catching fire, he looks like 150 pounds of body shimmer kissed by diamonds and shat upon by angels. Plain and simple, Edward is a jerk. Even when he is trying to tell Bella that he likes her, he manages to chastise her endemic and inexplicable clumsiness (“Why can’t you look where you’re going?” he snaps as she stumbles). Well played, sir. That’s a sexy move, because as we all know women love to be put down, especially for faults they have no control over.
Pictured: left: Edward Cullen, right: Carlisle Cullen

Pictured: left: Edward Cullen, right: Carlisle Cullen

On a brief aside, let’s talk about Edward and co.’s physical appearance. I think I can sum it up quite nicely in one short descriptor: they all look like the live action versions of anime characters. That is to say they have unnaturally pale skin and hair that looks like it is either: made out of plastic, or so thoroughly shellacked that it has no choice but to be pointy and tall. They are also mildly eccentric dressers and behave like the walking clichés they so obviously are. If they only had gigantic eyes and mouths that were either a tiny line or an enormous oval when open they would be complete. Aside from Edward, Bella’s other casual stalker in the euphoniously named city of Forks is a local Native American boy named Jacob, who is equally as verbally adept as Edward, though in a different way. During a lull in conversation at a casual gathering on the beach Jacob blurts out that the Cullens are not welcome in this area of town. Note that he is the only one speaking, and is speaking quite loudly. Later Bella asks him about it. “Oh, you caught that?” he casually intones. Apparently he thinks Bella is a gigantic, fucking idiot (which she proves to be over and over again) and needs to point that out. She says she did, and what’s up with that? He proceeds to tell a thinly veiled “legend” about Vampires and Werewolves and their territorial disputes. So blah, blah, blah, Bella figures out that Edward is a Vampire and, rather than being horrified that this rude person is also a demon, it seems to intensify her desire to be with him. Even when she finds out that he follows her around (follows is an ugly word, we’ll say “tracks” – props to Steph for that little chestnut), watches her sleep and that he is not disgusted by her smell, but rather it makes him hungry, she still persists. In fact, after having no more than three rather miserable conversations with Edward, Bella professes to be in love with him. Even when he zips around at high speed and rips some trees out of the ground and is overtly threatening. Even when he says he has killed people. Full stop. Killed. People. “I don’t care, you would never hurt me,” she wheezes. Even though he essentially says she smells delicious, in a food kind of way. Here is where I completely check out. Frying pan into the fire dear girl, you are on your own. Sigh. So the rest of the movie unfolds in a generally formulaic way and ends with Bella saying she would want to be a Vampire so she can be with her possessive, callous, misanthrope of a boyfriend forever. Edward demurs and suggests that they could have a long life together and she could retain her humanity. Yes, I’m sure a 35 (or 50, or 70) year-old woman with a 17 year-old boy would go over quite well. Charming. No issues there. Blech.
That's right, try to look disaffected. Suck in those cheeks, vampires are guant, remember?!

That's right, try to look disaffected. Suck in those cheeks, vampires are gaunt, remember?!

I’ve seen articles raising the question of whether this movie is a good or a bad influence on young girls. I tend to believe that it is only a bad influence on those who have never been in a real relationship, because it creates a false ideal of what a boyfriend should be, one that is not only unrealistic, but also unhealthy. Steph was quick to point out that all of the “sweet” things Edward did were possessive and generally creepy and in no way alluring or desirable. I whole-heartedly agree. I’m not sure what version of reality Stephenie Myer is living in where Edward and Bella’s relationship is a healthy one, but it terrifies me. Bella (who, as I am told, has low self-esteem) is the archetype of an abused woman. One who pursues something that she should know is unhealthy, possibly because she can’t believe she deserves any better. In the end I think this story best serves as a message for others, a terrible, unintended allegory about the pratfalls of naive youth and blind devotion, all based on the lies you tell yourself. Rating: 1 out of 5

1 Comment

  1. taryn
    01/31/2009

    Hey Tony,

    I absolutely HATE it when good songs make their way into bad movies!! You should ask Steph about what happened with Crossroads…. (if you want a good laugh).

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