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Twilight (movie)

A 2008 film based on the Stephenie Meyer book of the same name, directed by Catherine Hardwicke

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Surprisingly, Twilight Doesn't Actually Suck As Much As I Thought it Would... But it Still Sucks

  • Jun 26, 2009

Generally, I’m suspicious of popular trends in entertainment and I avoid exposing myself to any books or movies that I perceive to be conformist, populist, or over-hyped. Most of the time my instincts regarding pop culture are dead on, however there have been some notable exceptions (I was wrong about the Harry Potter novels, which were extremely well-written as well as being successful commercially). But I didn’t expect much when it came to the film adaptation of the best-selling young adult novel Twilight and having now seen the film I was pretty much right not to expect much. Now, I have to admit that I’ve not read Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series and that I have no intention of doing so because her writing style and her ideas don’t hold much appeal to me.
Stephenie Meyer, who was raised as a Mormon in Phoenix, Arizona, claimed that the inspiration for the books came in the form of a dream in which a human teenage girl confessed her undying love to a handsome vampire in the middle of a meadow. Apparently, when she woke up she began writing feverishly and before too long the entire story just unfolded in her mind and then she translated into writing. Though this story about her finding inspiration from her dreams is a rather attractive and romantic one, it seems rather unlikely, since Meyer wrote the books from the first person perspective and she saw the events in her dream from the third person unlimited perspective, not to mention the fact that the books are a Christian allegory about abstinence in the face of temptation. Generally, dreams aren’t parables or guidelines for living a “moral” life, but reflections of the unconscious and repressed ideas and emotions that we have during the day.
But I digress.
The idea of using supernatural themes as an allegory is quite common, and dates back to the earliest religious mythologies, so it comes as little surprise that Meyer should use a supernatural motif to disguise her Christian message, especially after the phenomenal success of the Harry Potter series. In the quintessential vampire novel, Dracula, author Bram Stoker uses the vampire as a warning to Victorian men about the dangers of foreigners, the seductive powers of women, and the growing conflict between religion and science. C.S. Lewis created an elaborate fantasy world in his Narnia books to instill children with a sense of religious faith and impart upon them the values of honesty and bravery. However, in Lewis’ case he made fairly direct and obvious references throughout his books to Biblical prophecies and Christian motifs.
Meyer does the opposite by giving her books an occult edge, adding vampires and werewolves into the mix in lieu of the more traditional mythological beasts, as well as telling a story that is very heavy on gothic romanticism. Unfortunately, her attempts at luring in emo and goth kids into the world of conservative religious fervor has been successful beyond what would normally be expected from a novel.
A really corny and kind of creepy poster...
Meyer employs the idea of vampires abstaining from drinking human blood and denying their animalistic and predatory natures as a metaphor for teenagers abstaining from alcohol/drug use and pre-marital sex. To keep this message from seeming old-fashioned she uses the vampire to give the whole concept an edgy, dangerous, and sexy quality… because there’s nothing sexier than not having sex (sarcasm).
Meyer also changes established the vampire mythos to better suit her romantic melodrama. They seem to have very different strengths and weaknesses than what would normally be expected in a vampire story. Her vampires don’t burn in the sunlight, but rather their skin sparkles. Her vampires also enjoy playing baseball during thunderstorms. All-American vampires? Yeah, go figure.
When seventeen-year-old Bella Swan’s mother decides to go on a tour with her stepfather, Bella chooses to live with her estranged father, Charlie, in the small town of Forks, Washington; a far cry from the world she’s known in Phoenix, Arizona. Bella and her father get along all right, though he’s somewhat quiet and introverted.
Despite being somewhat awkward and not really fitting in, Bella quickly befriends many students, but fails to befriend the sulky and attractive Edward Cullen. The Cullen family is something of an oddity in Forks as they’re all very pale, attractive, brooding, and they generally keep to themselves. The family consists of Carlisle Cullen and his wife Esme and their adopted children Rosalie, Emmett, Alice, Jasper, and Edward. Though, Bella is immediately smitten with Edward, he only gives her the cold shoulder. But one cold day when Bella’s about to get into the dilapidated truck her father gave her as a homecoming present, she’s almost hit by a van that spun out of control on the icy pavement, but Edward saves her by pushing the oncoming truck back with his bare hands. Bella is shocked and immediately realizes that Edward has inhuman strength, but when she confronts him about it, he denies it adamantly. But after hearing an old legend about the Cullen family’s origins almost two centuries earlier, Bella realizes that the entire Cullen family is much, much more than they seem. They’re vampires. When Bella confronts Edward with her startling discovering he confirms it with a startling display of his great speed, strength, agility, and his unique ability to read minds, though he’s unable to read Bella’s. The two immediately fall in love, though Edward senses that theirs will be a tragic relationship since he’s an immortal who craves her blood and she is a “fragile human” who will one day grow old and die. But Bella’s feelings are too strong and she knowingly accepts the consequences of loving Edward.
Edward explains that his family doesn’t feed off of humans like most vampires, that they’re “vegetarians” who only kill animals to survive, and that most other vampires despise them for this. When Edward decides that Bella should meet the family, she is warmly met by most of the Cullens, though Rosalie and Emmett are worried that bringing a human into their midst will only cause trouble. And they’re right.
During a baseball game, Bella and the Cullens are approached by a trio of violent nomadic vampires, intent on joining in. One of them, the savage James, is a tracker and he smells Bella’s human blood and makes it his mission to kill her and then to kill Edward. So, Edward, Emmett, and Rosalie go on the run trying to divert James while Alice, Jasper, and Bella go in the opposite direction. When Bella receives a panicked phone call from her mother, she races back to Phoenix to find that it was a trick by James, who’s waiting for her. Just as James is about to bite Bella, Edward heroically shows up, but can he defeat the ultimate vampire enemy and still repress the animal within himself?
The cast includes Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan, Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen, Peter Facinelli as Carlisle Cullen, Elizabeth Reaser as Esme Cullen, Ashley Greene as Alice Cullen, Jackson Rathbone as Jasper, Nikki Reed as Rosalie, Kellan Lutz as Emmett Cullen, Billy Burke as Charlie Swan, and Cam Gigante as James.
The film’s cast is quite a mixed bag. Though some of the actors are fairly good in their roles, others fail to give the impression that they know anything about vampires, either in literature or in films, and make the mistake of constantly posing like cats ready to pounce on their prey while hissing and making clawing gestures with their hands. In fact, the best performances come from the actors in the supporting roles playing the human inhabitants of Forks.
The cast trying to look like sexy vampires and failing miserably...
The film suffers from an excess of style and a lack of substance or genuine characterization. Most of the problems can be attributed to the poorly-written source material, but there’s also a lot to be said of the director, Catherine Hardwicke, who previously directed the film Thirteen about a girl’s descent into alcohol, drugs, sex, and self mutilation, and the Christian film, The Nativity Story.  Hardwicke seems like an obvious choice for director with her ability to present conservative Christian messages in a hip and edgy way. In my mind this is only annoying as the entire film and her entire career feel like one great attempt to proselytize to the viewer. Ultimately, her ability to tell a deep and meaningful story is lacking because she’s too focused on manipulating the audience into seeing things from her perspective. This is also true of Stephenie Meyer and her novels, which present any form of rebellion or dissent against the Christian Right as being conformist while abstinence and real conformity are presented as being morally superior. Apparently, you can’t be moral if you’re not a white, conservative, Christian.
So what we ultimately have here is a misguided morality tale disguised as trendy pop culture. Whether the thousands of adolescent Twilight fans realize it or not, their beloved series is nothing more than an attempt to dissuade and control them… and the story is written much like the melodramatic soap operas that their parents watch, though they’d be loathe to admit it.
2-disc Special Edition DVD
So is Twilight the worst film of the year? Far from it. The film’s as silly and emotionally stunted as a twelve-year-old’s romantic fantasies, but it does have a strange, nostalgic, adolescent quality and a sense of fun that is often missing in an adult’s romantic film, so it does have something to offer. Just not much.
To finish things off, I’d like to leave a few pieces of advice and some relevant information for Stephenie Meyer should she ever stumble upon this review (hey, it could happen).
First of all, vampires do not sparkle in the sunlight. Depending on which mythology you’ve adopted as the basis for your books, they should either avoid daylight because during these hours their malevolent powers are dampened by the presence of God’s holy light, as in the novel Dracula, or they should be incinerated by sunlight due to a severe biological sensitivity to ultraviolet rays.
Secondly, vampires do not play baseball. Just take my word on this one.
And finally, anyone or anything that feeds off of a sentient life form is not a vegetarian. The fact that these vampires choose not to drink the blood of humans might be admirable, but in reality would mean their own demise since vampires have a biological need for human blood due to a genetic iron deficiency, and only human blood will do. These vampires are not vegetarians since they don’t live on vegetation, but rather animals. This only makes them selective carnivores and not vegetarians. If you were trying to make your vampires seem kindlier and of greater moral responsibility, perhaps having them feed off of a cloned blood supply or a synthetic plasma would have been better. All you’ve succeeded in doing by having them kill animals for their survival is perpetuate the hierarchal food chain that places humans and humanoids alike as superior beings. If anything, vampires with their immortality and heightened powers of observation would have realized that all life forms are sacred in that they form a symbiotic cycle of which only humans are conscious of and, as such, it would be more logical for vampires to kill humans since humans possess a greater potential for destruction than any other species on the planet.
The over-priced 2-disc DVD... Corny and kind of creepy poster... The cheesy cast trying to look sexy and failing...

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December 15, 2010
My wife really loves the books that this and the other films have been based on. I tried my best to start the first novel in order to see where my wife was coming from, but just couldn't make it through the first few pages. The first film was okay, but I didn't like the second one at all. The third film goes a bit deeper into the backgrounds of the Cullens, and I have to admit that it's my favorite film of the bunch so far. Nice and thorough review. I guess I'm going to have to finally write up my reviews of New Moon and Eclipse.
December 15, 2010
"New Moon" was just painfully bad. I started a review on it, but I had trouble even knowing where to start a proper analysis. I still need to see "Eclipse".
June 02, 2010
Was not really a fan of this, vampires really shouldn't sparkle in the sun [they should DIE].
June 02, 2010
Yeah, this movie was painful and the sequel (damn Meyer for writing a series) was even worse!
May 21, 2010
Wonderful review-- and I agree with you; there were parts of this film that were appealing. I thought the moody, misty setting of the Pacific Northwest contributed more to the emotional impact of the film than anything the characters did or said. And yeah, I always thought "vegetarian" meant a plant -based diet without animal meat (or blood). Then again, I always though vampires abhorred the sun because it was actually *harmful* to them, not cuz it created a garish fashion statement. It's funny, if Meyer really wanted to push her Christian allegory you'd think she would've gone with the God's Pure Holy Light shtick. Oh, but then her conservative self-denying vampires would have been on the wrong side of the Good/Evil equation.
May 21, 2010
I know, it's hard to say whether the flaws in her take on vampire lore rise from her hypocritical religious morality or just from a general ignorance of vampire mythology. I still find it amusing that she claims that the characters in her book were inspired by Biblical figures and Shakespearean characters. Biblical characters were obviously archetypes and were written before psychological development was introduced to literature (religious or otherwise), so naturally we didn't have to read or listen to pages worth of whiny "I love you but we can't be together, so I'm going to be depressed and self-absorbed about it, unless we could be together again" kind of dialogue. I don't know anyone, especially teenagers, who speak like that. And although it's clear that Meyer is trying to tap into the psychologically flawed and tragic characters of Shakespeare, she fails to give them depth or real internal conflict. All of their problems stem from being egocentric and incapable of relating to one another as equals.
May 21, 2010
And a fickle one at that. With so many different companies and studios trying to capitalize on the Twilight trend, which oddly enough reminds me of how similar attempts were made to cash in on the horrible boy band renaissance of the late '90s, so I know that this too will end... and hopefully sooner rather than later.
September 17, 2009
This review is really entertaining and you make me want to get into vampires more. I will be reading more of your reviews soon. I have always been a zombie type of girl...but i love reading about all the different vampire "rules" and was really offended when Edward started glowing in the sunlight!
September 17, 2009
Thanks. Good to meet a fellow fan of supernatural characters. Have any favorite zombie films?
September 18, 2009
Dawn of the Dead, original and remake....Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead...I like the inevitability that EVERYONE IS GOING TO DIE.
September 18, 2009
My type of zombie movies as well. There's something terrifically creepy about the knowledge that all of humanity will perish, not in a fiery apocalypse, but as they descend into a cannibalistic state of sub-human ferocity. Good stuff.
December 15, 2009
If you want to learn more about vampires, here's the Vampire Mythology data point.
June 28, 2009
2 stars sounds like a gift to me.
July 07, 2009
But there are four books, not three. That's not a trilogy, it's a quartet. Which in this case is much worse! ; )
July 07, 2009
Well, there's an unpleasant surprise for ya!
July 08, 2009
I think one was more than enough for me not to see.
July 09, 2009
With the occasional misstep (such as CEREMONY, 18 FINGERS OF DEATH, and SHIRA) I really prfer staying with stuff I can recommed whole heartedly. Those 3 star reviews were just out of a desperate need to write about SOMETHING during my recent attack of inertia.
December 15, 2009
I thought you were in a constant state of inertia... so wouldn't an attack of inertia be somewat self-contradictory? I mean, one can't be inert and have an attack of inertness. That would be like saying that an icicle had a case of hypothermia.
December 16, 2009
But things which are inert CAN occasonally be put into motion by outside forces in which case they will remain in motion etc etc etc., thus making it possible for them to once again suffer an attack of inertia one day.
December 16, 2009
True. But what I was commenting on was the idea of an attack of inertia. Have you ever heard of an inert attack or an inactive action? Inertia seems more like a condition rather than a happening.
December 17, 2009
You and your semantics. I think the idea of an "attack of inertia" is very funny. It reminds me of Peter Cook's Devil in BEDAZZLED singing "...you move me to inertia." But then you'd probably like that wording better
December 17, 2009
Well, he was being ironic. Were you? Sometimes it's hard to tell in print, especially in a short comment.
December 18, 2009
May 22, 2010
I can't. I'm inert.
May 23, 2010
I saw that response coming, or rather just sitting motionless, from a mile away.
May 23, 2010
If you saw it coming, it was because you were moving towards it.
May 23, 2010
What if I had a zoom lens? Then I could be inert too! : )
May 23, 2010
You would be inert, yes. But in one sense you would still be the one "moving" forward albeit with the help of the zoom lens.
June 27, 2009
I'm drinking my coffee and so I'd thought I'd come back here to do some reading. Yeh, we rated this film about the same--I don't think it's the worst movie out there but it still got on my nerves. Vampires sparkling in the sunlight? some genius told me it's because they're not evil--ha ha! so what about the other vampires?! The more I think about this film, the more it makes me grind my teeth. Surprisingly Scotman disliked it and he liked Indiana Jones 4!
June 27, 2009
Yeah, I gave him a hard time about that too. :)
July 07, 2009
I'll take the whiny teenager over that insult of a movie any day. And personally, if I could run up trees and waste my time staring at attractive young girls of legal age I would!
July 07, 2009
Yeah, but she's 18 now, at least in real life. Her acting was better in the movie "Into the Wild", which if you haven't seen you ought to!
June 26, 2009
Hmm, you brought up a lot of interesting points to follow here which makes for damned good review as always. Like yourself, I don't hate Twilight but just can't see myself going completely crazy over this series nor going out of my way to track down any of the books. Hmm, I'm sure that would quite a feat to find one of these in a local bookstore. LOL
June 26, 2009
Yeah, at the library, where I work and use the computers, the entire series is almost always out and when they do come in and go back on the shelf they're usually gone again within a couple of hours. Sad, really.
July 02, 2009
Just skip it altogether & read the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series by Laurell K. Hamilton. Trust me, you'll be glad you did. Her books are worlds more entertaining than anything Meyers could've ever dreamt of. I would suggest either Bloody Bones or Obsidian Butterfly for starters but the first 9 books in the sries are just kick-ass so you can't go wrong with any of them really.  
July 07, 2009
I do have "Bloody Bones" in paperback, but I've not yet read it. As for the comics, I haven't heard much good about them. E.A. Solinas on Amazon gave them a downright panning!
July 07, 2009
The first 9 books in the series are awesome as far as Anita Blake goes & you really can't go wrong with any of them. If you like True Blood, you will LOVE this series. I'm shocked there isn't more discussion regarding Laurell K. Hmailton instead of that talentless hack Stephanie Meyers. Orlok, read some Laurell K. Hamilton & review those. ;-)~
July 07, 2009
I may take you up on that once I've made my way through my "things to review" list.
July 10, 2009
I would definitely be interested in reading your take on the Anita Blake series & seeing your whole perspective on Laurell K. Hamilton's phenomenon.
June 26, 2009
Best title ever ; ) The baseball scene made me physically nauseous... seriously?! Phenomenal breakdown, as always - thx!
June 26, 2009
Thanks. I wasn't sure if the whole vampire/sucking pun would be too obvious, but I couldn't think of anything else. It's funny, I'm actually looking forward to the sequels, so I can dissect them as well. The next one will be interesting because of the Eugenic attitudes regarding the vampire/werewolf rivalry. Thanks again and hope to continue to entertain you with my... quirky review titles.
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review by . March 16, 2011
Before I start this review, I want to make this quite clear. I am not a twi-hard nor will I ever be. I only watched this to have a running commentary of the movie and we shall do the same for New Moon and Eclipse. Twilight certainly is an interesting cultural phenomenon, and this movie marks its transition to the big screen. I, however, am a teenage girl and these films were marketed towards my age group and that makes me feel sort of compelled to watch it to analyze it. Anyway, I'm getting …
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review by . July 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
did they even read the book??
i will say this: had i never read the book, i may have liked this movie. but to bad for summit entertainment, i did read the book and so did a WHOLE lot of other people. it was (or at least seemed to be) really low budget. aside from pattington, who had some notable acting experience, the rest of the acting was really bad. some of the minor supporting actors shined brighter than Bella's character as far as acting goes. and the vampire makeup effects were awful. it looked like baby powder mixed …
review by . June 27, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
   The Twilight Books have become popular all on their own.  They've made a huge dent in the literary world (albeit, for all the wrong reasons, but see my reviews for that).  With becoming such mega huge bestsellers, it's no suprise that they opted for a film.  And while my expectations for the film were low heading in, I'm sad to say that they couldn't even fulfill that.  As I kept watching, my only real thought was... how much worse can it get?      …
review by . May 05, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
More than any other movie released last Fall, I so wanted to hate Twilight & actually made a special point to avoid it at all costs. You might even ask what changed my mind or why I'd bothered going at all. Hell, why write a review for the film? Surprisingly, this was actually somewhat better than I thought & somehow I felt compelled to write up a small one for you guys. Hmm. Empty spot in my schedule, right? Ha!      As anyone will tell you, Twilight has been the …
review by . March 23, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
     Being a vampire lore enthusiast, I have seen a very good amount of vampire films. Of course, I would check out this vampire movie based on the best selling book by Stephen Meyer called "Twilight". Please understand that I have not read the book (yet) and obviously this type of movie would attract audiences based on the book's popularity and that this film does know its intended audience--teenage girls or hopeless romantics. I will try to be as objective as I can, I …
review by . July 08, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
did they even read the book??
i will say this: had i never read the book, i may have liked this movie. but to bad for summit entertainment, i did read the book and so did a WHOLE lot of other people. it was (or at least seemed to be) really low budget. aside from pattington, who had some notable acting experience, the rest of the acting was really bad. some of the minor supporting actors shined brighter than Bella's character as far as acting goes. and the vampire makeup effects were awful. it looked like baby powder mixed …
Quick Tip by . October 01, 2010
It was okay. I think I liked the book better though I'm not really sure why.
review by . May 12, 2010
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About this movie


Twilight is a 2008 American romantic vampire film based on Stephenie Meyer's popular novel of the same name. Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, the film stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. It is the first film in The Twilight Saga film series. This film focuses on the development of the relationship between Bella Swan (a teenage girl) and Edward Cullen (a vampire), and the subsequent efforts of Cullen and his family to keep Swan safe from a coven of evil vampires.

The project was in development for approximately three years at Paramount Pictures, during which time a screen adaptation that differed significantly from the novel was written. Summit Entertainment acquired the rights to the novel after three years of the project's stagnant development. Melissa Rosenberg wrote a new adaptation of the novel shortly before the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike and sought to be faithful to the novel's storyline. Principal photography took 44 days, and completed on May 2, 2008; the film was primarily shot in Oregon.

Twilight was theatrically released on November 21, 2008, grossing over US$392 million worldwide. It was released on DVD March 21, 2009, and became the most purchased DVD of the year. The soundtrack was released on November 4, 2008. Following the film's success, New Moon and Eclipse, the next two novels in the series, were produced as films the following year.
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Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance
Release Date: November 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: Summit Entertainment (October 27, 2009)
Runtime: 122 minutes
Studio: Summit Entertainment
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