Trailers can be deceiving aka my Twilight review


On Thursday, I did something I hadn’t since I was in high school (that would be about 8 yrs ago :]). High school was a very tough time for me. It made me feel trapped and miserable, totally stressed out and a lot of other things like that. It’s not the only time in my life when I’ve felt like that, but it was the first and certainly by far the longest I’ve ever felt like that.
I had to find some sort of way of coping with those feelings and I did… sort of anyway. I’m not sure how many other people deal with their emotional problems like that, but my way was to develop obsessions about things. You see, if I was obsessed enough with something, I could concentrate so hard on it that the rest of my feelings would kind of stop existing - at least for a while. And that helped somehow.
It’s during high school that I got obsessed with figure skating. There was a time when I could quote the figure skating rulebook more accurately than a professional judge could (unfortunately that is no longer true :] at the moment I’m embarrassingly behind with skating :]). And it’s also during high school when I reaaaally got into cinema. Figure skating could only take my mind off things when it was on and it’s a seasonal thing. So cinema (which I was already interested in before, just not so obsessively) became a very important outlet too. When I was in a particularly bad mood, I would average about 4-5 cinema trips a week - all of them alone. Usually I’d see something Hollywoodish because I’d go to film screenings around 3 or 4 in the afternoon, straight after school, and the art house stuff was rarely shown at those kinds of hours.
While I’m not very depressed or anything, I am extremely stressed out by school at the moment, so after my classes finished today, I suddenly had a familiar urge… A little voice in my head told me I should go see a film, right now, and I listened to it ;) (that was how it used to be in my high school days - I rarely planned to go see a film after school, it would just happen)
There are only two films playing now which I particularly wanted to see. One is more artsy and wasn’t being played until 8 in the evening (how familiar ;) ), but Twilight was being played nearby in about half an hour, so it fit the bill.
If I discount film festivals, this is the first time in ages since I’ve been to the cinema alone. And certainly the first time in ages since I’ve had the lady in the ticket office looking at me strangely for requesting just one ticket. Everyone else at the screening had company.
I’m afraid the experience did not help with the stress as well as it used to ;) My classes finish later, so the film started at 5:40, which meant more people in the hall than I was used to (I was often one of 5 or so people in the hall in my high school days) and I think more people generally come to cinemas these days. So I had people in front of me and to the right of me talking and loads of them coming in late etc. Perhaps I should have taken a seat more to the side of the room - I’ll know better the next time the little voice in my head decides I need to go see a film for such reasons ;) Despite the minor annoyances, I did have a good time, however, and I still consider it a valid way of calming myself down ;)

Twilight (USA/UK, 2008)

Seen: Thursday, 15th January 2009
Polish Distributor: Monolith Films (9th January 2009)
Release Date (worldwide): 21st November 2008
Runtime: 122′
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Billy Burke, Taylor Lautner, Peter Facinelli
Production House: Goldcrest Pictures, Maverick Films, Summit Entertainment, Temple Hill Entertainment
Plot: A vampire falls in love with a human girl.

Scene from the Film
I already linked to this in my “spotting” post, but I like this scene ;-P And it’s actually much nicer in the film, where it’s less choppy, kind of slower and without all the retrospective shots.

Impressions In Short
Completely not what I expected! I actually liked it *grin*

Some Details
As you may have gathered by what I wrote before, I was pretty sure this would be a very shitty, commercial kind of movie. The trailer focuses on the fight sequences and the supernatural special effect kind of elements of the plot - as do the other promos.
A pretty stupid way to promote it I think since the action and special effect scenes take up maybe 15-20min. of the film. The remaining 100min. are not like that at all. And the scenes that have the action and special effects are IMO some of the worst of the film, so that’s another good reason not to focus the promos on that, but whatever :]
So in reality, this is a very quiet and intimate kind of film. It actually has an independent film kind of feel (and in case you’re wondering - there are no major Hollywood studios behind it and the budget is pretty low in American standards). The camera is a bit grainy and it stays very close to the characters. There is a lot of focus on the relationships Bella has with people (not just with Edward Cullen - the vampire, mind you, there’s a lot about her relationship with her parents and other students at school also).
I was very amused to see people on imdb explaining how the editing was terrible because they left so many “awkward silences”. For me, that was how it should be - the relationship between Bella and Edward *is* awkward. In fact the “awkward silences” fitted into the film so naturally that I wasn’t even particularly aware of them until I read the imdb message boards and started remembering them ;)
I liked that the film took its time (another of the editing criticisms that was levelled at it on imdb). I often find Hollywood action and fantasy films a little too fast in places. It’s not that Twilight even is *that* slow, mind you. It’s just that it doesn’t feel the need to keep your attention with fast action, the way pretty much all of the current Hollywood fantasy and action films do. Then again, maybe that’s just not what this film should be compared to. This is first and foremost a romance, though not at all like what Hollywood usually produces. I think if you just take the storyline, it would probably fit in better in Japanese context ;) It even has the standard suffering, brooding and dark romantic hero that seems to appear in J-drama so often ;)
Something that struck me is that this is very much “a woman’s film”. All of the positions that most effect how the story was told were taken by women - the novel was written by a woman, as was the screenplay, the film had a female director and editor also. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Hollywood blockbuster which had women in all those positions and it really showed in the end result. It made me realize how male-centric Hollywood blockbusters are… Women really do see the world a little differently lol I’d like to see more female-centric blockbusters *sigh*
Interestingly enough, the director for the sequels has been changed and he’s going to be male :] (Chris Weitz - director of The Golden Compass) I’m not sure how I feel about that…
I also found out something about America in this film :] You see, the film takes place in small town USA. I ignorantly thought that Indian reservations are a thing of the past, but they’re not. From what I understand, nowadays Native Americans are not forced to stay on reservations and the reservations exist primarily to keep tribal culture alive. But a certain form of segregation is still there (in the film, Jacob - a Native American boy - goes to a different school than Bella and doesn’t seem to interact much with teenagers from outside the reservation) and poverty in Indian reservations is widespread.
There was something nice about including that Native American part of the plot - I haven’t seen Native Americans represented on film for ages… probably since I last saw Dr Quinn and I think I was in my early teens then :]
Another great thing about the film was the dialogue. Despite many people on imdb slamming it for being too corny - I thought it was great ;) Perhaps the difference of opinion arose because it was delivered somewhat sarcastically - maybe some people just didn’t catch that ;-P Below are some sample ones from imdb’s quote page.
This is one of many scenes in which Edward tries to avoid giving Bella any answers about his supernatural powers:

Isabella Swan: Look, You gotta give me some answers.
Edward Cullen: Yes. No. To get to the other side. Uh, 1.77245…
Isabella Swan: I don’t need to know what the square root of pi is.
Edward Cullen: You knew that?

And this one is after Edward invites her to his house - this is right when she comes into the building:

Edward Cullen: What did you expect? Coffins and dungeons and moats?
Isabella Swan: No, not the moats.
Edward Cullen: Not the moats.

Something I hadn’t realized was that the music was by Carter Burwell (one of my favourite composers) and so I really enjoyed the score (the trailer doesn’t do justice to it ;-P).
And finally, lets talk about the acting ;) Pretty much the whole cast was very strong IMO and I think it’s largely what made this film. Both the casting and the performances were great. Well, maybe some of the vampires didn’t quite work out as well as they could have. But they’re very difficult parts I think. It’s hard to balance the cold, restrained and inhuman bits with the emotional bits and I think some of the actors failed there - the characters needed to be humanized a bit more.
Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart had great chemistry together. It was a brilliantly awkward kind of relationship and it was pulled off really well :) I also really liked the guy, who played Bella’s dad and Jacob (the Native American boy). And Dr. Cullen was really good - I think the only vampire role other than Pattinson’s that I really liked :)

Yes - I loved it (or at least I loved a lot of it if not all of it ;)), but I don’t think this is a film for everyone.
I think Kin probably wouldn’t have liked it that much because of the conflicted, brooding, dark, romantic hero ;)
And I think it’s generally not a good film for people who dislike genres like romance and melodrama.
Also keep in mind that the action and special effects really aren’t worth going for. There’s not enough of them and they’re bad anyways ;)
But otherwise, it’s got a lot going for it - much more than I thought anyway.

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