Monday, 22 December 2008

Double Twilight Review - Book & Film.

Welcome to my double review on the Twilight book and film. I'll warn you now that it's going to be pretty long with lots of spoilers. Also, it's taken me days to get this finished, I think I had typed about two pages of my blog before thinking that it was better to split it all into sections and edit down!

The Main Characters
Edward Cullen and Bella Swan. I thought the chemistry between both actors was perfect and I truly couldn't think of other people playing their roles. However, there are moments in the film where they both seem genuinely embarrassed about something. I didn't think this was part of the acting at all but I liked it because from reading the book, there is a bit of awkwardness between the two characters at first. I instantly took a shine to Kristen Stewart (who plays Bella) because I thought she was a brilliant when she played Jodie Foster's diabetic daughter in 'Panic Room' in 2002.I have often read in other reviews that Kristen Stewart's portrayal of Bella in the film was 'dead and dull', but I really disagree because I felt that her personality wasn't supposed to be upbeat or happy-happy. Her voice was quite monotone, but it completely suited the character. I also thought she looked like the Bella I had in my head, she wasn't the conventional beauty, but I found her quite striking.Robert Pattinson played Edward Cullen, the 'vegetarian' vampire who falls in love with Bella. He can hear the thoughts of everyone around him, apart from Bella's. I see this as the foundation that makes Edward curious and the reasons why he asks her so many questions about her life (mainly in the book), so he can at least predict what she is thinking, rather then trying to hear them! - If you are interested in Edward's version, check out Midnight Sun, the fifth installment which is 'Twilight' told again but from Edward Cullen's point of view. You can read the first (very rough) 12 chapters on Stephenie Meyer's website and reasons for why it's available to read.

Vampire Characteristics
I was glad that Stephenie Meyer did not fall under the typical cliches of vampire characteristics. There was no sign of any garlic, or Cross allergy, or death by sunlight... this was all explained in the book. It was also mentioned and mocked at by Edward Cullen in the film, which does remind the viewer that they are watching a modern vampire film. However, another part of my mind then wonders if avoiding the cliche, is a cliche in itself? Anyway, I wanted to mention that instead of exploding or melting in sunlight, the Twilight vampires simply, sparkle. I loved reading Stephenie Meyer's description of this, so I was a bit disappointed when it looked like they sprinkled glitter on Robert Pattinson's face and shone light at it from all angles. I suppose this is something I can forget, because it was a low budget film... but I was expecting something so much more amazing. This part of the film is also part of the meadow scene, which is such a crucial part of the story as it truly shows the blossoming of the relationship...there were several pages of this in the book but it was cut very short in the film and with extended, unneccessary cinematography.

Edward Cullen's ability to read minds comes from his human ability of empathy. I loved how Stephenie Meyer continued a certain flair from each character, which makes each one very individual, whether it is an advanced ability, or an emphasis in personality. As a human, Alice was put in an asylum for having premonitions, which is the reason why she is able to see the future as a vampire, Carlisle is compassionate, Esme is motherly, Rosalie is outrageously beautiful, Emmett is the strongest vampire in the family and Jasper has the ability to manipulate emotions.

Missing Scenes
There was quite a lot of scenes from the book that I really wanted to see on screen... and would have also given the film more depth and substance. For example, the film did not include the blood typing lesson, which Bella attends alone after having a very informative lunch with Edward (another missing scene). She passes out after seeing Mike's pricked finger to which he then takes her to the Nurse. Bella stops to rest on an outside bench and Edward appears. There is some chit chat between him and Mike, and he promptly picks her up and carries her to the Nurse. I felt this was a part of the book that would further emphasize Bella's fragility, Edward's protectiveness and Mike's fascination with Bella. In the book, it is clear that Mike is extremely fascinated with Bella, but I didn't really get the same feeling watching the film.

Another part that I would have liked to see is when they are in the dark classroom, having to sit through an hour watching a video and there is clearly a lot of sexual tension arising. I think that would have been as funny as the part when Edward first smells Bella which was a very humorous scene!

Added Scene
Just a small thing I noticed in the film that I don't remember in the book - Edward is talking to Bella in the canteen, an apple rolls off the counter, Edward kicks it up with his foot and holds it in the palm of both hands - thus making reference to the book cover. I quite liked that!

The Ending
By the time the film reaches the end, there is finally some vampire action, and the film suddenly felt 'darker', because admittedly, I giggled the whole way through. For the 12A movie rating, I could understand why they couldn't necessarily show the vampires ripping James apart and burning his remains but then I think back to programs such as Angel, where fight scenes are great and convincing without being too gruesome for a younger audience. I also think James (played by Cam Gigandet) got defeated a bit too easily in the film. Because the book is narrated by Bella, we don't really know what happened in detail, so this scene didn't have many limits. Laurent describes James as being “absolutely lethal…with a brilliant mind and unparalleled senses...", so I expected the fight to last a lot longer. He doesn't seem to have a brilliant mind being beaten after 2 minutes but he does get what he wants - to bite Bella. Which leads me on to when Edward has to suck the venom out of her to stop her from becoming a vampire, but to also stop himself from biting her afterwards! The audience was in hysterics.However, despite James being defeated so quickly, I really liked the whole set up of the ballet studio. I also loved the prom scene when they are dancing alone, it was when I really started to take the film a bit more seriously as you can almost see that they are really in love! I wasn't impressed with what Bella was wearing though (an unflattering, un-waisted, royal blue tiered dress), but her vintage-looking cardigan made up for it.Final Note
I think everyone needs to remember (especially myself!) that the film was low budget with no expectations, no CGI, and no amazing stylists or hair and make up teams! So I think they did a pretty good job! The first vampire book-translated-on-screen that I think of is 'Interview with a Vampire'. I never read the book but it was a big budget film with established actors, so I have high hopes for the Twilight sequel, 'New Moon', to be really, really, good and to hopefully feature more of the Cullen family and the stories behind each one.
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