Sep 16, 2007
Twilight (2008) (part 1 of 9)
The Cast of Characters:
Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart). Our protagonist, who manages to narrate the entire movie without ever developing a personality. But check out that booty! Right, guys?
Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). A vampire. I can’t really think of anything to say about him, so I’ll just quote dear sweet R-Patz himself: “The more I read about this guy the more I hated him, so that’s how I played him—as a manic-depressive who hates himself. Plus he’s a hundred-year-old virgin, so he’s obviously got some issues there.” I went to see the movie in the first place precisely because of the huge love that quote gave me for him. So did a lot of people, in fact.
Charlie Swan (Billy Burke). Bella’s dad, obviously. Has an awesome moustache. Unlike in the book, Charlie and his moustache actually have something relevant to do. Plus they get some of the best lines.
The Cullens (Ashley Greene, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Kellan Lutz, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser). Edward’s not-Mormon-like-at-all vampire family. They’re all pale and incredibly hot, because Meyerpires (as the haters call them) are all hot. And pale. And sparkly. Did I mention sparkly?
Bella’s Friends (Anna Kendrick, Michael Welch, Christian Serratos, Justin Chon). I would dearly like to shake Ms. Hardwicke’s hand for the way she handled these guys. Personalities! Senses of humour! Character development! Believeability! Of all the characters in the Twilight universe, they’re the ones who got the most obvious overhaul, and it’s all for the good. I want these guys as my friends.
Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). A local Native American who has the hots for Bella (hey, everyone does). Doesn’t do that much except provide some exposition and hang around patiently waiting for the sequel. Also, he’s totally not a werewolf. No, those prominent canines and all the “my tribe is meant to be descended from wolves isn’t that funny?” dialogue don’t mean anything. No, all those other in-dialogue clues don’t mean anything either. He’s not a werewolf. Shut up.
Before I start, I’d just like to say a big thanks to forum member The Mud Puppy, who was kind enough to provide the screencaps for this. You guys should thank him too, since his input meant this recap could get to you that much faster. I’d also like to thank all the people who PM’d me with advice and encouragement—I was amazed by just how many people were eager for me to do this recap. It was my pleasure, honestly. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed doing a recap this much.
And now, onto Twilight.
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Ah, Twilight. Twilight Twilight Twilight. What a word that’s become. Once it just meant a time of day, but now it has so many other—frequently unpleasant—meanings.
I think what makes me an odd case with it is this: despite being the Agony Booth’s resident bad book shredder, I don’t hate Twilight, the book. And trust me, I’ve seen all the stuff that makes people hate it. I’m well aware of the sexism, the overt Mormon propaganda, the abusive relationships and the horrible writing. And yes, I also know what happens in book four with the demon baby and the uterus chow-down.
In its own way, the Twilight hate/worship campaign is little different from the hysteria and backlash against other “literary” phenomena. The formula always goes like this: Popular book –> Passionate fan base –> Some more intelligent people point out that it sucks –> Fans overreact –> Critics feel threatened –> Hate sites and general ridiculousness.
Once I cared about sagas like this one, and once I seriously thought they meant something. But they don’t, and by now I’ve seen enough that I simply don’t care anymore. It’s just a book, and not a very good one, get over it and move on. The fangirls will. Eventually.
But, you’re probably wondering, what about the movie? Well, to finally get onto that, I’m going to make a confession. Several confessions, in fact.
First, I saw this in the cinema. Second, I saw it three times. And third, I enjoyed it. Yes, that’s right. I liked it. Sue me.
Why? For starters, the cinematography is really good. It’s also well-directed, and has some decent acting. In fact, some of the characters are drawn well enough that they’re… uh, characters, which is a big improvement over the book. Actually, make that a between-book-and-screen addition. The book had no damned characters, but the moviemakers saw fit to add some. Those philistines.
However, what it all comes back to in the end is this: no matter how good of a job the director did (and she did a very good job), no matter how hard the screenwriters worked at fixing the story up, no matter how awesome the composer is, the movie is still Twilight, and nobody else’s talent is ever going to fix the middle-aged woman’s disturbing sparkly wank-dream that is Twilight.
And that, dear friends, is why I’m recapping it. That and the fact that a good friend begged me to do it.
Well, and I guess it comes down to personal reasons as well. After all, now that I’m single again I’m obviously not a Complete Person (I mean, I’m a girl, for crying out loud), and I’ve never had much of a clue when it comes to romance. But I’m sure Twilight can help. After all, it’s the ultimate love story, right? So I’m going to watch very carefully this time around, and see if I can’t pick up an education. This way, I should soon find out which guys I should go after if I want the perfect relationship.
Before we get started, I couldn’t help but notice that the DVD included trailers for Angels and Demons (the upcoming sequel to The Da Vinci Code), and The Spirit. Isn’t it amazing how well the DVD guys match these things up? Angels and Demons is based on a bestselling piece of crap literature, and The Spirit is, well, crap. Man, even the trailer for it is crap. I see a bright future for that one in the Agony Booth’s disciplinary wing.
The movie proper opens with some nice atmospheric music, before a voiceover courtesy of Kristen Stewart kicks in. And here we see the first big mistake the filmmakers made: direct-quoting prose and dialogue from the novel. Just think about that, why don’t you. A professional scriptwriter with probably dozens of other projects behind her, stooping to use lines written by a talent-deprived, daft housewife.
As for the voiceover itself, you may as well check it out for yourself.
Kristen Stewart: I’d never given much thought as to how I would die. But dying in the place of someone I love seems like a good way to go.
Of course we’ll eventually get to the point in the movie the narrator is referring to, at which point we’ll find out that the line is almost completely meaningless.
While we hear it, the camera wanders through a mossy damp forest and happens upon a deer. The deer scoots away with the camera in hot, streaky pursuit.
People, opening your movie with a deer hunting scene just isn’t a good idea. It’s been proven.
The camera chases the deer at high speed for a while, and we get quick, blurred shots of human legs doing the chasing before an anonymous person springs out and grabs the poor beast by the neck. First roles always suck. Especially if you’re a deer.
Fade to a blue sky, and we pan down to the pasty, emo-tastic face of our protagonist. The voiceover returns, and says, “So I can’t make myself regret the decision to leave home.” The problem is that this is said like it’s a continuation of what she was saying before, which makes absolutely no sense. Dying in place of someone you love has nothing to do with deciding to leave home. New paragraph, new thought, moron.
Anyway, we find Bella standing in what looks like the desert sector of a botanical garden, clutching a small potted cactus and a shovel while her voiceover complains about how she’s going to “miss Phoenix”, with all the heat and whatnot. Guess she loves a sunburnt country. Good for her; I don’t. Still quoting more-or-less verbatim from the book, she adds that she’s also going to miss her scatterbrained mother. We see said mother bidding her darling daughter goodbye, and you know she’s whacky because she’s wearing a straw hat. Dude, straw hats are just standard whacky-mother wear. Everyone knows that.
“And her new husband,” Bella continues, while we cut to a muscly dude who must be the stepdad, busy packing the car. You know he’s a dude because he’s wearing a baseball cap and because he gives us the first bit of actual dialogue with “Yo, people, we gotta go!” Damn right, we gotta go!
…to the nearest musical montage! Aw yeah!
Bella and family drive off into the montage, which includes a plane taking off and some aerial shots of mountains. The song playing is “Full Moon” by the Black Ghosts, and it’s a really nice song so I’m not going to complain. I’ve had it on my MP3 player for the last few months, so yeah.
Unfortunately, Bella’s voiceover returns to spoil our enjoyment of the song, as she quotes more of Meyer’s lousy prose. She describes how the small town of Forks, Washington is really wet and tiny and therefore implied to be totally lame. Only without the implied, because Bella’s vocabulary doesn’t stretch that far.
The montage now carries us cheerily into Forks itself, and Bella is being driven into town by her father Charlie. Which means that, yes, the star of the movie has now made its first appearance! It doesn’t get many lines, since it’s a moustache, but the screen presence is just… wow! I wanna date the moustache! Owner optional!
Oh, wait. I’m sorry, that was just stupid. The moustache isn’t undead so it’s off the list. Damn.
Bella introduces us to Charlie, owner of the moustache, telling us he’s the chief of police in Forks. After this we actually get some dialogue, where Charlie awkwardly remarks on the length of her hair and gets an equally awkward response, establishing that the two don’t really connect. Just thank your lucky stars the movie didn’t stoop to using Meyer’s description, namely “neither of us was particularly verbose”.
(Psst! “Verbose” doesn’t mean “talkative”, Meyer. Just thought you’d like to know. Your editor will burn in hell for this. Oh, right, I forgot—you don’t have an editor.)