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Twilight, The Movie – A Review (From The Point of View of Someone Who Loved The Book Series)

Posted by on 17 February 2009


It’s 1.29 am WIB (Waktu Indonesia Barat, i.e. West Indonesian time), or 2.29 am back home in KL, and I just finished watching ‘Twilight’ on DVD.

I almost cried. Twice.

…In complete and utter disappointment.

This has got to be one of the worst screen adaptations of a novel. Sorry, Twilight fans, but everything was… Just. So. Wrong.

Sheesh! Where do I even begin??

Lemme think… There’s Kristen Stewart as Bella. Sure, she looked the part. She looked stunning in the posters and the trailers. But that’s about it. In the movie, she looked like she was always on the verge of tears. Like, all the time. Whether she was with her father. Or in school with her small group of friends. Or when she was supposed to be frightened of Edward. Or when she was supposed to be deliriously happy with him. Her expression never seemed to change. The adjective ‘wooden’ comes to mind, if you’re to ask me to describe her acting in one word. ‘In pain’, if two words. Worst of all,  she failed miserably to convey what I felt was the most important trait that Bella had in the book — her vulnerability.

Then there’s Robert Pattinson as Edward. *Sigh* He looks mesmerizing in the promotional posters and the trailers. He fit perfectly the image of Edward that I had in my mind when I was reading all four books. Sadly, I felt that his portrayal of Edward was… Just. So. Wrong. Sure, he was initially antagonistic towards Bella, so the fierce look that he gave her at the beginning was apt (but perhaps bewildering to moviegoers who haven’t read the book). But he was scowling for practically 98% of the film! Just when exactly did he fall in love with her? I don’t remember seeing that in any scene in the film. He was uttering lines of love and need…but I didn’t see them in his eyes. I know he’s supposed to be torn between a burning desire to kill her and an unfathomable need to be with her and protect her. But I don’t think he managed to portray how Edward (in the book) really feels about her — fiercely protective, yet gentle and loving, as though he’s scared of breaking her (because, as a vampire, he’s supposed to be hard as steel and strong enough to break her bones effortlessly). I know what it’s like to have someone stare at me as though he could see my very soul, something which Pattinson never managed to pull off in the movie.

But then again, was it Robert Pattinson’s fault that he acted surly most of the time? Or was he just following the director’s instructions? Or the script? Because in the books, Edward displays a whole range of emotions — he teases Bella, he smiles at her, he gets apologetic, he turns wistful, he looks at her with tenderness — none of which were sufficiently portrayed in the film.

And now that I’ve mentioned the script… *Groan* Why couldn’t they just have gotten the scriptwriters for ‘Harry Potter’ or ‘Lord of the Rings’? While reading the book, I thought the editor did a lousy job on the editing. But after watching the movie adaptation, I think the scriptwriter did a lot worse — he or she practically butchered the novel, taking too many liberties on altering what I felt were key scenes. For instance, the first time Edward showed Bella how he looks like in the sunlight was a pivotal and tender moment in the book but that scene in the movie was all wrong  — he didn’t just drag her into the woods (in the book, they went for a pleasant walk together), he wasn’t angry (in the movie, after showing her how his skin sparkles in the sun, he snaps at her, saying he’s a killer), he didn’t climb up trees (he just streaked past them like a bullet, with Bella on his back). And I’m so disappointed that the scriptwriter deleted lines that I felt were crucial to establishing the right tone and emotion. For instance, Edward only mentions in the film “You’re my brand of heroin” to Bella. It would have been better if he explained it to her in the film the way he did in the book. And I don’t recall any scenes in the movie when he touches her hair tenderly or she traces the lines of his face with her fingertips, scenes that were mentioned time and again in all four books.

Remember how I wrote in my book review about forcing myself to keep on reading ‘Twilight’ even though I didn’t find the first few pages interesting enough to go on? With the movie, I was bored out of my wits less than 10 minutes into the film. Remember how I wrote in my book review how I forced myself to plod on when I was reading ‘Twilight’ just so I’d know how it would end? With the movie, I  was soooo tempted to turn off the DVD player so many times but the only thing that kept me going was the thought that I had to finish the movie so that I could write a fair review of it. Worst of all, I don’t think the scriptwriter managed to establish the progression of Edward and Bella’s relationship at all. First he seemed to loathe her, then suddenly he was following her everywhere, then before you know it, the two are a couple. If you’ve never read the book, you’d go, like, “Huh? What just happened here?”

As for the casting, I wonder why the producers decided to get politically correct with Bella’s group of friends. Was it some kind of representation of the actual ethnic mix in the town of Forks (which, by the way, actually exists in the US of A)? But even if we are to disregard how they looked, I think their acting looked too forced and unnatural, like some wanna-be actors from some B movie or a long-forgotten cheesy teenage TV series.

Among the Cullens, I think the only one who really fit the bill was Alice. The actress had Alice right down pat, from the hair to the height to the beautiful voice and, most important of all, her sweet and vivacious personality. And I think the actor who portrayed Carlisle was the worst casting choice of all. He simply failed to portray Dr. Cullen’s kindheartedness, which is key to his character in the books, nor did he end up as the ultimate father figure that he was in the books. In the movie, he just looked like he was forcing himself not to smile all the time.

The actor who played James, the tracker vampire, was ingenious though. I think he was, without a doubt, perfect for the part.

So now I shall go to bed with shattered hopes and unmet expectations. And wishing I never saw the movie.

If you’ve read the book, I say — don’t bother watching the movie. It will just ruin your entire reading experience.

If you haven’t read the book yet, that’s even more reason for you not to watch the film. There will be too many missing pieces and you’ll just end up confused, if you somehow make it to the finale without being bored to tears.

If you’ve read the book AND loved the movie, I do love the book (despite its flawed editing) but I’m so sorry that I don’t share your enthusiasm about the movie. Just try for a moment to detach yourself from your obsession with Edward, think about the key points that I mentioned above, and be very, very honest with yourself. If you can be objective enough, I am sure you will agree with at least one of my arguments.

Finally, this mini-review is just my opinion. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion and I’m merely voicing mine. How convenient that this happens to be my blog, I own this domain name, and I have complete liberty to write whatever I want. Hah! :D

So if you object vehemently to this review — bite me! Sorry, I couldn’t resist quoting one of Edward’s lines from Midnight Sun (page 77)! ;)

After watching this movie, I feel so thankful that I never watched the ‘Da Vinci Code’ movie. I absolutely loved that book and wouldn’t want the experience to be shattered by a potentially disastrous adaptation of a complex marvel of a novel. I would have been much, much better off had I decided to stick with the images that my imagination conjured in my mind as I read the books. I just hope the scriptwriter, producers, director, cast and crew do a much better job with the next 3 Twilight films!

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