By Min Qiao
The phenomenon that is Twilight is amazing. As a devout follower of Stephenie Meyer’s series, I can vouch for the incredibly magical, yet believable plot that Meyer has crafted throughout her first three books. The story of Twilight begins when Bella Swan moves to the small town of Forks, WA to live with her father. At school, she is introduced to a clique of kids, the Cullens, who stand in stark contrast from the rest. After a considerable amount of nosing and probing, Bella finds out that they are, in fact, vampires. Throughout all of this, Bella finds herself falling in love with Edward Cullen, one of the vampires. Twilight is a classic tale of girl meets boy with a perfect mix of supernatural and thrill that leaves the reader eager for the sequel.
Unfortunately, the movie version of this story loses something in the translation. If all the magic and subtleties of Meyer’s work were translated to the movie, then “Twilight” might actually be halfway decent. Of course, like most book-to-movies, all of the elements that made the book such a phenomenon were swept away in a sea of epic background music and dramatic close-up shots. Director Catherine Hardwicke has overdone herself, trying to please the followers of the Twilight religion so much that the average, initiated movie-watcher would be lost in this whirlwind of events in which all the transitions were forsaken for another close-up of Edward and Bella, staring longingly into each other eyes, obviously shot for all those Team Edward fans . The star-crossed romance of Bella and Edward was rushed and chopped up into a couple of hackneyed scenes that looked like a bad job of cutting and pasting from the books with none of that chemistry that Meyer crafted. In fact, the only way the audience would even know that Bella and Edward are an “item” is because Bella’s annoying cop-out of Meredith Grey’s narration quoted the book saying “About three things I was absolutely positive: First, Edward was a vampire. Second,there was a part of him–and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be–that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.”
Of course, the fact that Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart had absolutely no on-screen chemistry did not help. The light-hearted bantering between Edward and Bella in the books was replaced with an awkwardness that most would cringe at. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that Pattinson looked pained and constipated in most of his scenes as he delivered his lines through clenched teeth. Yes, I understand that Edward is known for his tortured soul act, but Pattinson’s portrayal of that was definitely sub-par. And while I commend Hardwicke for trying to incorporated some of the humor that made Bella and Edward’s romance believable into the books, it was an utterly dismal attempt especially when combined with Pattinson’s constant state of agony.
As for special effects, let’s just say that it looked a bad episode of “Charmed” and the ashen-faced vampires closely resembled geishas. The one scene that I was looking forward to was the romantic scene in the meadow where Bella gets to see Edward sparkling in the sun for the first time. And they butchered it. Where it was supposed to be romantic, it was violent and clichéd. Where it was supposed to be magical, well, it looked like they decided to dunk Pattinson in a tub of glitter.
The only thing that somewhat salvaged this movie was interactions between Bella and her father. The awkwardness and cluelessness of Charlie came to life in the movie as he struggled to raise a teenage girl in a dangerous town. One of the funniest scenes in the movie was when Bella tells her father that she would be going on a date with Edward. Charlie responds with a couple of skeptical retorts before finally saying “Bring him in” and then snaps his rifle shut.
Despite its best attempts, “Twilight’s” crudely stringed together patches from the book gave no consideration for the crucial transitional details that made this impossible tale such a success for Meyer. This, mixed with the bad acting, lame attempts at humor and a healthy dose of ’80s special effects makes for a third-rate film and leaves the audience resigned to simply staring at the eye candy. Oh, no wait. They butchered that too with Pattinson.