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Sparkle on!

I know movie reviews are generally done by the Blogulator's, you know, movie critics, but I feel particularly entitled to review the Twilight movie, not only because it's based on a book, and a very famous book at that, but because my relationship with Stephenie Meyer's blockbuster series started out rocky but has a happy ending, much like the books themselves.

I recently found myself explaining to someone why people like the Twilight series so much (of my friends that have read any of the books, only two of them aren't completely infatuated, but one of those people is a boy, and as we all know in this equation straight boys don't count because they are immune to the glorious charms of Edward Cullen, so there you have it).

I decided that it comes down to this: so often in this world, unless you are exceptionally talented at deluding yourself, you come to a point where you realize that relationships are hard and tricky, people aren't as kind as they should be, and at the end of the day certain things you really wanted to believe in growing up--true love, soul mates, Fate, ultimate sacrifice, the supernatural world--are in most cases complete myths. Reading and now watching Twilight lets you imagine, just for a moment, that such things actually exist, and if you're the sort of person who can't ever indulge in fantasy you'll probably hate book/movie, but I like, every once and a while, to believe in something like that, and Twilight is pretty much my drug of choice. "My own particular brand of heroin," as Edward Cullen would creepily say.

Bella, the main character, starts out just as jaded as I or any number of people who've had their hearts broken by the world at one time or another are. Her parents are divorced, she's spent almost her entire life looking after her well-meaning but flighty mother, and now her damned good heart has caused her to leave her home in Phoenix to go live with her dad in dreary, rainy Forks, WA so that her mother, newly wed to a minor league baseball player, can travel with her husband instead of staying home with Bella.

Speaking of ultimate sacrifice, this is the first one our narrator makes in our presence--she can't stand the cold and her relationship with her father, Charlie, is distant and awkward. Plus she's coming to school at the tail end of her junior year, but she's trying her hardest not to be miserable, and it's not working very well. Bella doesn't believe in love, she doesn't believe in marriage, and she's hoping to muddle through her time in Forks, with no thought to enjoying it or, you know, meeting the true love of her life, the *~SPARKLY~* Edward Cullen!

The first day of school, however, changes everything. Bella's new friends tell her about the Cullens, a family of five ravishing siblings who aren't really related to each other--they were all adopted by a young doctor and his wife and are "together"--big, goofy Emmett and his girlfriend, the devastatingly gorgeous Rosalie, fun, spunky Alice and her boyfriend, the tense, pensive Jasper, and Edward, the youngest Cullen, who doesn't have a partner.

The Cullens are beautiful and mysterious--they never eat, their parents pull them out of school on every rare sunny day, and they stick together, hardly ever speaking to anyone unless absolutely necessary. (SPOILER) They're vampires, duh, and anyway it soon becomes clear that as hard as Edward Cullen tries, he cannot stay away from Bella, although he really should because the scent of her blood is completely intoxicating to him, more than the scent of most human blood (which he doesn't drink because the Cullens are "vegetarian" vampires--they subsist solely on the blood of animals), and even though he's falling in love with her he also wants to, you know, kill her dead. Who hasn't had that problem in a relationship, am I right?

Most of the movie is taken up by their tentative, old-timey courtship, Bella's long-overdue discovery of his true nature, and the way they integrate each other into their lives. Then there's some danger and some drama at the end, which is fairly anticlimactic in the book, I'll admit, but the movie does a good job of making it fairly exciting.

Now, first of all, Twilight is AMAZINGLY cast (with the exception of Nikki Reed, who, apart from obviously not being a natural blonde, is not nearly drop dead gorgeous enough to be playing Rosalie, beautiful though she is). Fans objected at first to Rob Pattinson as Edward, God knows why, but he turned out to be the best decision they made on this film. Edward is a hard character to play--many people, even people on the film, are under the misapprehension that he's supposed to be the perfect guy, and while outwardly he is (gorgeous, respectful, rich), inwardly he's more tangled than a box full of Christmas lights, full of self-loathing, insecurity, doubt, and fear.

Thankfully, that's the part of Edward that Pattinson picked up on, that here is a kid who has been miserable and lonely for a century, who sees himself as a vile monster full of evil thirst and capable of the worst sort of destruction, playing it sincerely and to great effect. Kristin Stewart, as Bella, is just as plain and awkward and frankly boring as her literary counterpart, which is good because the whole point of Bella is to be as blank as possible, so that we gooey girls can project ourselves onto her and imagine that Edward Cullen is in love with US. Tricky, tricky, Stephenie Meyer. She knows what's up.

Second of all, Twilight is, as book adaptations go, pretty good. Meyer's books are notoriously bloated, so when the screenwriter drained all the unecessary crap and just kept the best scenes and major turning points, what follows is a pretty tight plot. Yes, it takes Bella a while to wise up to what exactly it is that makes Edward different, but seriously, like YOU would automatically assume the guy you're flirting with is a vampire without explore EVERY other option available to you first.

We saw a little more Jacob Black than I expected (hoped), which was smart because the next movie, New Moon, which is officially a go as of today, centers around Bella's relationship with Jacob, as Edward is practically MIA for about three hundred or so pages. HOW WILL WE ALL LIVE? I have yet to figure that out.

When I walked into the theater, there were two things I was looking forward to: the baseball scene, which exceeded my expectations outside of the fact that I wish it had been longer, and the infamous meadow scene, in which we see Edward *~SPARKLE~* for the first time. I mean, honestly, the man *~SPARKLES~*--how do you pull that off in a movie without it looking like the most goddamned cheesy freakshow thing you've ever witnessed?

It's not easy, apparently, but Catherine Hardwicke, the director, made two good choices: first, she decided that since Edward is always described as being cold as ice, that his *~SPARKLES~* would look like snow when the sun hits it, and second, that they wouldn't show very much. HOWEVER, Edward's *~SPARKLES~* are GOLD, which makes him look like he just slathered on some body shimmer in prep for a night out in Boys Town. So it could've been better, but it could've been a lot worse, and that's my final opinion on that front. I really don't have to see it again in future movies.

The soundtrack is completely unspectacular except for "Supermassive Black Hole" by Muse, which plays during the baseball scene and which I've had on repeat all day today. The soundtrack also features two weirdly awesome songs by Rob Pattinson, but they're album only on iTunes currently and I don't remember hearing them in the movie. Speaking of soundtrack, you know what we definitely didn't need in this movie? Bella's voiceover. There were parts where what she was saying didn't even make much sense. I would suggest they jettison that for the next film, because it was seriously annoying. Like Bella's not annoying enough on her own.

The thing is, if you love the books, Twilight is exactly what you were expecting and hoping for. The movie hasn't transformed the story into something ineffably gorgeous and Oscar-worthy, but it has faithfully adapted a story that we always suspected would be fun to watch, plus it gives us two hours of Rob Pattinson to drool over. If you hate the books, Twilight is just more of the same ridiculously over-the-top, schmaltzy romantic falderal you'd rather lose a limb than sit through. I can see both sides of the argument, because the first time I read Twilight I wanted to punch someone in the face I was so grossed out. I'm not even going to defend the series itself--that's for another post entirely. But I will say that I loved Twilight the movie because I love Twilight the book, and if you feel the same, then the $12 ticket price is well worth it.

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  1. Blogger DoktorPeace | 8:39 AM |  

    $12 tickets? That's not how we do things in Wisconsin. It's either 9.50 or a carton of eggs, depending on the season.

    Which came first - Twilight or True Blood? Because they sound like almost the same thing, only one is for adults and one is for teens. I'll stick with watching the nudity-filled one, for now.

  2. Anonymous OHD | 9:25 AM |  

    Actually, True Blood is also based on a series of vampire novels, the Southern Vampire Series by Charlaine Harris. The first book in that series came out in 2001, and Twilight was released in 2005, which means that she probably wrote in in 2003 sometime. So technically Sookie Stackhouse came first, but it's a totally different audience and I doubt Stephenie Meyer was familiar with the series when she wrote her novel.

    True Blood may have nudity, but does it have *~SPARKLY~* Edward Cullen? No. No it does not.

  3. Blogger qualler | 9:33 AM |  

    Does it count if nude Lizzy Caplan sparkles in a metaphorical way? I do actually kind of sort of (really badly) want to see the movie / read the book, though, since I am, you could say, a sucker for vampire stories in general. PUN.

  4. Blogger chris | 6:13 PM |  

    How is/are the Paramore song(s) used, if at all? That may determine whether or not I see this movie, honestly.

  5. Anonymous OHD | 9:18 PM |  

    Eek, I don't really remember about the Paramore songs. You'll just have to see the movie!

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