Review: In Regards to Your Movie, ‘Twilight’

This movie was so close to being fantastic that it’s even more frustrating just how cringe-worthily awful it is.
By  · Published on November 21st, 2008

To whom it may concern:

I’m not sure where to begin. There’s a lot of fantastic things about your film, a lot of gambles you took paid off, a lot of beauty. It had Catherine Hardwicke’s directing signature all over it. The style of the shots and the tone almost looked like a nicer, vampirey version of Thirteen. In fact, she seemed to round out the characters in a better way than even the book did. Certainly, she gave more life to the side characters.

Then there was the non-traditional narrative arc. Of course it follows the books fluidly, and the book hindered any chance of creating the usual sort of story development we see in every other film. For some, it’s going to seem like cinematic inertia – like there’s nothing pushing the story forward – but some are going to see it as a brave choice to create a different type of story.

The scenery is gorgeous, breath-taking. The climax is more intense than I would have expected, and more than a few things caught me off guard in a good way.

Which is why I couldn’t be more frustrated right now.

As you may know, I’ve read the books. I’ve met and talked with you – Mrs. Hardwicke, Mrs. Meyer, most of the cast. I desperately wanted to love this movie so that I could stand strong in support for the series which has been hard enough as it is. But the things in this movie that were bad were so jaw-numbingly awful that it destroyed the film for me. Even worse, it was always so close to being fantastic, that the albatross dragging it down was more aggravating than if the movie had just been average on its own.

By now we all know – Twilight is about an average, clumsy girl named Bella (Kristen Stewart) who moves from sunny Arizona to the overcast world of Forks, where she falls desperately, romance-novelly in love with Edward (Robert Pattinson), who just happens to be a vampire.

You should realize that right around 90% of your film is fantastic – really brilliant stuff. Strong acting, good writing, interesting stories and genuinely funny moments that make for a complex, realistic look at adolescent life. But Holy Anne-Rice-on-a-Stick the other 10% is excruciatingly bad. So bad that I wanted to bite my own neck – a physical impossibility – to keep from groaning too loudly in a theater full of easily-enraged tweens.

Luckily, I know exactly how to fix your film. So listen up:

1. Get rid of the voice over. All of it. Seriously. When it wasn’t saying exactly what was going on in the scene it was insulting the audience (and Kristen Stewart’s acting ability) by telling us exactly what she was thinking, despite her accurately portraying it through body language and facial expressions. You had a good actress. You should have trusted her and the audience to get what she was thinking.

I wanted to strangle the voice over, and that’s a weird feeling – to want to strangle a disembodied voice. It was pointless and took us all the way out of the action.

2. Your musical score is the worst thing I’ve ever heard – it sounded like someone grew up worshiping The Cure and The Smiths, bought a second-hand Casio and went to town. Hire someone else. Avoid cheesy synth-pop. In that order.

3. For the sequel, beg for a ton more money for the special effects. It was like watching the first Harry Potter film, except you don’t have the excuse of being made in 2001. Also, it would seem as though a crappy company made a few business cards that read Industrial Light and Magic and are parading around pretending to be them. Summit, you should ask for your money back. And maybe press charges. You can add my name to the class action suit.

That’s pretty much it. Those three major things obliterated your movie. Well, those and the ten minutes of acting from Stewart and Pattinson that came straight from the As The World Turns School of Acting. If you wanted us to think they were bad actors, you shouldn’t have had them be so solid the rest of the film. And guess what? Even your twilighters were laughing at the unintentionally funny moment of Edward doing his impression of Dramatic Chipmunk in the high school parking lot.

Speaking of which, thanks for the multitude of pan-shots of Bella’s concerned face in said parking lot. It definitely didn’t seem repetitive at all.

For most audiences, the movie is going to be difficult to watch. In many ways it’s tailored-made for the hardcore fans, and in others, I fear it might fly right over their heads. It seems like you’ve taken a possible large franchise film and handed it over to an artistic indie director. The last time that happened, The Hulk was fighting giant CGI Poodles. Come to think of it, Twilight might have benefited from Edward tearing some giant poodles to bits. Scratch that. You wouldn’t have had the CGI money to do it anyway.

But even for fans, there’s going to be one major moment that disappoints: Edward’s crystal skin. About a half hour after the girls in the audience swoon over His Golden Eyes, they’ll scrunch their faces up at an anti-climactic shot of what should have been a pivotal moment. Edward gets as moody as he ever gets, shouting that he has the skin of a killer while the audience is forced to squint to struggle to see any minuscule change in his appearance while in the sun. The shot of them laying down in the sun later is a bit better, but overall, a moment that should have been a huge, literally shining moment for the character and the romantic development is overshadowed, again literally, by a lack of CGI or will to go all the way creatively.

Also, the two cliche-style horror-moment vampire attacks you slapped into the movie seemed more out of place than a die-hard Twilighter at a monster truck rally.

Overall, fans of the book are going to drool over this film, but you should know that it could be have been so much more. Just a few easy tweaks could have made this movie accessible to all movie-goers, could have won over the men and young boyfriends who are being dragged to see it. This movie will end up being the first kiss for countless twelve-year old boys, but most of them won’t look back on the film itself as anything special, which is sad.

With a truly orchestrated score, better CGI, and a little self-control when it came to the cheese-factor (including the voice over), this movie could have been solid. But I dislike movies that fail despite great potential even more than films that are just plain average overall, so your movie really bothered me. It’s just so close to being strong, that those few things that are unbalanced on the crap-side of the cinematic see-saw drag it down so thoroughly that I can’t help from being disappointed.

Better luck on the next one.

Respectfully yours,

Cole Abaius

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