Monday, December 01, 2008

Movie Review - Twilight

It's the movie everyone is talking about: Twilight.

So what is it about this movie that has half of the 12-30 year age group of females wildly excited?

Maybe a guy in his 30's isn't the best judge.

Anyway, unless you've been under a rock (considering the economy, it may be more secure than your mortgage), Twilight is based off the first book in the best-selling series by Stephenie Meyer. First, the quick summary to make sure we’re all on the same page. Seventeen year old Bella moves to Forks, WA, to live with her dad in the wettest, cloudiest place in the US. While adjusting to a new school, she meets Edward Cullen, a very handsome boy who at turns shuns her and acts interested in her. Her dogged pursuit reveals his secret: that he is a vampire, part of a “family” of vampires that only drinks the blood of animals so they don’t have to be killers. Edward is drawn to Bella both in love and to the scent of her blood, fighting his natural urges. As Bella and Edward explore their relationship and she is immersed in this strange new world, other forces enter their lives that threaten all they are trying to build.

How’s the movie? It isn’t as good as the book (when is a movie ever?). It stays pretty true to the book, so fans of the series should be pleased overall. The director tries to visually create a mood with filtered shots and lots of dreamy/vexed/glaring looks by the love-struck couple. The movie slows down at times due to this, but doesn’t bog down. There are hints of suspense interspersed enough to move things along.

The actors who play Bella and Edward have some chemistry, but it wasn’t enough to convince me of their resolve to press forward into such an unorthodox relationship. Kristin Stewart (Bella) portrays teenage awkwardness well and anchors the movie, although she is asked to pose gaping way too often. Robert Pattinson (Edward) is charismatic enough, but he isn’t always an imposing, remarkable figure. I don’t know whether to blame the screenwriters or the actors. Other characters like Alice are under-utilized, but I’m sure it’s hard to compress a long novel into two hours.

There’s been some controversy about the novel and movie, both in regular reviews and specifically Christian reviews. One general complaint is that Edward has stalker tendencies, since he watches Bella as she sleeps and always seems to be around. This is shown in the movie somewhat, but it doesn’t come across as creepy. My 12 year old niece picked right up on it and recognized that’s not a good trait for a boyfriend. The couple only kisses passionately a couple of times, but there is a lot of restraint, even though once they talk late into the night and she ends up sleeping and cuddling up to him (no nudity or intercourse).

Spiritually, there are obvious concerns about the whole concept of a vampire and drinking blood to sustain life. I’ve read blogs that point out the perversion this idea makes of Christ’s sacrifice for us and the sacrament of wine specifically. Personally, if I can accept the idea of an impersonal Force in Star Wars and random mutation and evolution in the X-men series as acceptable platforms for story-telling, then I don’t have a problem with vampires. I understand the above criticism, but it doesn’t strike me as blasphemous.

With the specific story, there are positives. Edward’s family is “vegetarian”, meaning they have learned to survive on animals. They hold to their promises to the local Native American tribe, and they back each other up. They work hard to protect Bella when danger arises, and Bella is willing to sacrifice herself to save a loved one.

Overall the movie was enjoyable, and it was fun to see it in the theatre (although it exposed some weak special effects). I’ve seen other reviews that state the movie will appeal to fans of the book and not bring in the uninitiated. Since I’d read the books, I can’t judge very well. They may not have created enough magic as the book’s author, Stephenie Meyer, did. My niece hadn’t read them and enjoyed it, even not being one for romance (tomboy has her picture next to it in the dictionary). There’s probably not enough explosions to draw a hard-core male audience, but it is a good introduction into a new world (ready for the already announced sequel). Using discernment is always needed, as writers and directors always have some form of agenda, but it is not a scandalous movie that need be feared and shunned. If you have a pre-teen or teen who is prone to becoming too emotionally involved with something, then Twilight is a bad choice. If they have some judgment, then it can create some interesting discussion.

Stars? If I had 'em, probably a 3 1/2 out of 5.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, Jason, thanks for this review. I learned a lot. I kind of think this one will die out slowly. Not enough controversy or complexity. The novelty is wearing off, I think.