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Sunday, November 20, 2011



The stars of Twilight thwart Stephanie Meyers' attempt to
take her story back.
Cards on the table - I'm a fan of the Twilight series. The books, the movies, the mass shrieking hysteria, all of it. I have a friend who chooses to pretend this piece of my personality doesn't exist, lest it cause a rift between our wonderful intellectual persons. But, friendship be damned, I get it. 

I've heard this series referred to as several things. "The story of a girl's struggle to choose between bestiality and necrophilia", Interview with the Vampire: The D-Bag Chronicles, etc. I've also heard Edward Cullen referred to as Queen of the Damned. Which, I admit, is kind of funny. But, as far as the story goes, there's a deeper meaning. Shades of Mormonism are completely founded, and the entire saga can be boiled down to a message about keeping your virginity until marriage. No matter how hot Edward Cullen is. 

And he is.

It'd be hard to talk about this film, pretending it hasn't become a bit of a cultural punchline. The boys at Mystery Science Theater 3000 even took a swing at it, to hilarious effect. But, I'll attempt to discuss this as the film that it is, and as if it stood on its own. 

As adaptations go, it isn't the most deft book-to-film translation out there. It's no Kubrick v King, but to call it a fair handle would be a stretch. Some films take artistic license, and some films take it too far. This, sadly, falls in the latter category. I'll reiterate that I'm a fan, but I'll also mention that I'm a Kristen Stewart fan and hopefully you can see the connection. I'm on Team Bella.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the story, outside of the Team Edward and Team Jacob fluff, here's the rundown. Bella (Kristen Stewart) moves to Forks, WA to live with her dad Charlie (Billy Burke). She runs into old childhood friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner) and meets a few new friends at school. Including the Cullen family. Most importantly, Edward (Robert Pattinson). He's a vampire, and he's immediately attracted to her, her to him, except that he's a vampire. So, he'll probably kill her if he stays too close and...

actually, boiled down to basic plot points, the story really is quite plain. It's all about the metaphor for Mormonism and virginity, I think. That's what has kept me interested over the last few years. 

On a technical level, the film is fairly impressive. The atmosphere of Forks, WA - the overcast, perfect place for vampires to live as they can't go out into the sun, town - is handled quite well, with the film being shot in hazy blue and grey tones. Unfortunately, the screenplay and direction halt the entire production. Near clinically insane, Catherine Hardwicke admittedly didn't put much thought into the film as she didn't think it would become such a giant success. We can see why she got fired from the sequel, can't we?

The performances are something to behold. Whether that's a positive or a negative statement is up to you. I, however, stand completely divided on the subject. I love the way Pattinson and Stewart play Edward and Bella. But, the rest of the cast, immune to criticism is Billy Burke, hams it up beyond belief. Bella's high school friends, one of whom is played by now Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick, aren't believable in the slightest, and Taylor Lautner seems like he's on peyote for most of the production. 

I think the most unfortunate thing about this film, as much as I enjoy it as a relaxer from time to time, is that even though the fans recognized that the production quality as it relates to the book is pretty damn bad, it was still a huge success. I could equate that complaint and stick it to the audiences, but I'm blaming Catherine Hardwicke for it. Mostly because I'm still not over Red Riding Hood yet. And my hatred for that film seems to consume me when this woman comes up. Oops.