First off, I just want to say this:
We all know that a film adaptation of a novel will never quite be the same as the novel itself. The mere fact that two different mediums are being used to tell a story means that it is impossible to tell the story in the same exact way. The book and the movie are pieces of art, two expressions of one story. They are their own entities, and should be treated as such. My point is that a book is a book and a movie is a movie, they are not the same thing, so you cannot expect a movie to be the book. It’s an obvious point, I know, but I think it’s a concept that people tend to forget when they compare a novel to its film version. This isn’t to say that it is forgivable to butcher the essence of a story when you are adapting it for the screen. But I believe that a film, when being faithful to its origins, can be just as wonderful as the novel without having to be exactly like the novel. They can both be appreciated in their own way.
So, onto what I thought of Twilight:
Yes, some scenes and special effects may have been a bit cheesy, but think about the budget they were working with. None of them expected the fandom to explode the way it has, so they didn’t set out to make a huge blockbuster with over-the-top computer generated effects. And yes, the score could have been improved upon in some scenes (the soundtrack, however, was phenomenal.) And yes, the movie was not exactly like the book. But you already know what I think about that. So anyway, how did I like the movie, you ask?
I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE MOVIE.
Granted, it took me the first viewing, a night to digest everything, and a second viewing to get to that point, but I truly do love it. I think any Twilight fan that is a little unsure of how they felt about the movie should watch it just ONE MORE time. I think it deserves one more chance from fans, before they make a formal opinion, because the first viewing is a very skewed and overwhelming experience. For me, there are two reasons why I needed to watch it a second time:
#1: Like I said, the first viewing is very overwhelming. I was trying to take everything in all at once--trying to compare, analyze, and process every little detail. Because of this, I lost a bit of the big picture and didn’t allow the movie to express itself.
#2: The main thing that I needed to get use to was the change in pace of the storytelling. Stephenie Meyer develops her characters at a quaint snail’s pace, and I became quite attached to how slowly her novels unfolded. Of course, you can’t do this in a movie, because it would just become very long and boring. They had to pick things up a notch, and it was difficult for me to adjust to the new pace.
I took the time between the two movie viewings to gather my thoughts and let go of my attachments to the book. The second time around, I walked in with a fresh and open mind. I no longer needed to take in every little detail, and was able to sit back and let the movie tell me its story, its own version of Twilight. And the story was beautiful.
Cast & characters:
Although Kristen Stewart’s Bella was not exactly how I imagined the character in my head, I still loved her version. She brought a different edge to Bella, and I thought she balanced her characteristics well—introverted, awkward at times, independent and strong-willed. I think she did her best acting in the scene when she had to hurt Charlie in order to leave, it was just heart wrenching.
Rob Pattinson was wonderful as Edward. There were a few moments that seemed like he was trying a little too hard with the tortured-and-conflicted look, but everything else was great. That smirk he gives when Jessica is gossiping about him in the cafeteria scene? It was Edward PERFECTION.
The Cullens were awesome. We didn’t get enough of them and I definitely wanted more of the Cullens. Ashley Greene was Alice. You couldn’t get any cuter and daintier than that. Her voice and demeanor were exactly how I imagined the character, and that dancer kick she does while pitching is so Alice, I loved it and I loved her. We didn’t get to see much of Jackson Rathbone’s Jasper, but what we did get was good—that quiet and hovering presence. Nikki Reed played Rosalie well—you could feel her irritation and disapproval pulsing towards Bella, and Kellan Lutz’ portrayal of the funny big brother Emmett was great. Elizabeth Reaser was adorable as Esme and did a wonderful job at embodying the loving mother-figure of the clan, while Peter Facinelli also did a wonderful job at embodying the compassionate father-figure of the family.
The Humans were awesome. Stephenie was right when she said that the human friends don’t get enough love, because they totally deserve it. Most notable were Jessica, Mike, and Eric--they added a great deal of humor and an authenticity to the teenage world.
The villains were great. You could totally see the menace in Victoria. And Cam Gigandet as James? Can we say creeeeeepy?
Billy Burke as Charlie was one of the best roles in the movie--his version of the character gave shape to the quiet love that Charlie has for his daughter.
Although I could have done without the hair, Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black was enjoyable. He definitely has the cute Jacob smile, and it will be interesting to see how he does as the werewolf-Jacob in the rest of the series (now that there will definitely be a New Moon movie!)
My favorite scenes:
The Cullens cooking for Bella. This was BRILLIANT and hilarious and complete awesomeness. It is a total tangent from the book, yet is one of my favorite parts of the movie. Just one example of how a movie can tell a story in a different way. In this short scene, you see the spirit of each of the Cullens—Rosalie’s distaste towards Bella, Emmett’s sense of humor, Esme’s motherly love, Carlisle’s kindness. All this, wrapped up in a cute and funny little scene. I LOVED it.
The baseball game. This is one scene that I think many were looking forward to seeing. The whole vibe was awesome—from the music (perfect song!) to the stunts to the bits of dialogue. The one flaw I found? It was too short! It was so cool that I just wanted more and more of it. I was pretty disappointed when the villains abruptly halted my enjoyment of the game.
Seeing the Cullens for the first time. Chapter 1 of Twilight is entitled “First Sight”, referring to the first time Bella sees the Cullens at school. This scene captured the awe that Bella felt in the book perfectly. As a viewer, you can’t help but feel that same awe when the Cullens first walk by the cafeteria window.
THE KISS. Enough said.
Dancing in the gazebo at prom. For me, this is THE scene that was able to completely capture the essence of the Twilight novel and of Bella and Edward’s love. Everything in the movie led to this one moment when I sighed and felt that yes, this is Twilight.
Other things I really liked:
-Charlie and Bella’s relationship. I’m glad they took the time to develop this a little, I think it added a nice dimension to the story. In the books, we know that Bella and Charlie love each other, but it was more of a silent and awkward love. It was nice to see the relationship play out on screen and was very endearing. The mace storyline? Loved it!
-The scenery. It’s gorgeous in the Pacific Northwest and it was great seeing how much they incorporated the beautiful scenery into the movie. The panoramic view over the treetops of the Columbia River Gorge is breathtaking!
-The film had a gritty edgy feel to it. We didn’t have something that was shiny and polished and stale. I think the close up shots helped with this. I loved those shots, ones that were almost a little too close and a little uncomfortable. It made you feel like you were there. I don’t know, it just gave the movie its own flair, and I really liked it.
-The humor. This wasn’t all seriousness and life-or-death love. The movie was actually funny a lot of the time!
-From the trailers, I thought the ballet studio fight scene would turn out a little cheesy looking. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t and actually really enjoyed it. The choreographed stunts and fighting looked pretty cool, and I was left wanting more.
-All the little details that were included in the movie. It really felt like a nod to to the fans and to Stephenie's work--they cared enough to pay attention to those details and made the effort to put them in the film.
A short list of things I wish was different about the movie:
-Slow down the pace of Bella & Edward’s budding love.
-More of the Cullens.
-More of the baseball game.
-A meadow scene that was more like the book, including an improvement in the sparkling effect.
So yes, in an ideal world, there are things that I wish could have been done differently. But that list was short compared to all the things that I thought were wonderful about the movie. And now, I am very much looking forward to seeing New Moon.