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Twilight, Twilight, Twilight… what can I say about thee?

January 5, 2009

Yawp, no blog post yesterday.  I just got my new bed installed, so I spent more time than necessary laying on it (very comfy bed, more on that later maybe.)  Part of the time I was playing games on it, part of the time petting kitties… mostly, though, I just loafed.

I also took some time to watch Twilight.

I must admit, I was both disappointed and pleasantly surprised.  Specifically, I was disappointed because the movie was not the steaming pile of garbage I expected, but merely a highly mediocre piece of work.  There were even some things I liked about it, which were the pleasantly surprising parts.

Since I’m feeling chipper at the moment, we’ll start with the things I like.

Thing One: Edward.

This was not particularly surprising to me — I had heard good things about Robert Pattinson’s ability to play the character.  What I did not expect was for the character of Edward to honestly win me over as a believable – and even likeable – character.

He did bother me at first.  Not because he was awkward and brusque – I quite understood that part of the character – but because, to quote Bella, his mood swings gave me whiplash.  Every time I turned around he was trying to get close to Bella just so he could tell her that he didn’t think they should be together.

Once he finally got past that phase, though, he sort of grew on me.  He was quite a gentleman toward Bella, and although he was a little pushy, I found this fairly attributable to his inexperience with social relations.  I wasn’t even too disturbed by his confession of spending his time in Bella’s bedroom, if only because they had already made a mutual decision to stay together by that point.

The second thing I liked: Carlisle.

Call me shallow or whatever you will, there is just something sexy about a guy who talks about your vitals.  There’s also something sexy about the actor who plays Carlisle – I believe it’s the very kind-seeming cast to his face.  This is the sort of guy that you would trust messing around with your internal organs, even if you knew he was a vampire.  He’s even sexy at bat, which brings me to the third thing I liked…

Vampire baseball.

I loved this scene.  Visually speaking, it was one of the best parts of the movie.  I loved the interplaying between the thunderstorm and the vampires’ movements, and it did an excellent job of showcasing the sort of lifestyle that is typical among the vampires.  Finally, I came to realize why Edward sees Bella as such a fragile thing – not because she’s any more breakable than any other human, but because he’s used to living around people who throw 200-ish mph fastballs.

Actually, I came to understand Edward a lot, which is why I started to like him.  Finally, I think I understand what it is about him that attracts Bella (reading a bit of Midnight Sun helped, I admit).  He likens her to a drug that he can’t stop taking.  I propose, instead, that she be analogized to a book.  Edward is an individual with an unfortunate gift: he can instantly read the entire contents of any book just by looking at it.  While this is a remarkably convenient way to obtain information, after nearly a hundred years of this he’s grown to miss the simple process of sitting down, picking up a book and actually reading it.

Then comes Bella: one book that he can’t absorb just by looking at it.  Immediately, he finds himself drawn to that book, craving the tactile sensations associated; the feeling of paper under his fingers, the act of running his eyes over the words.  For all Edward cares, this book could be an oven manual (a lot like Bella, akshuly) and he wouldn’t care; it’s simply been so long since he’s done any actual reading that he can’t bring himself to put it down.  His behavior in the beginning of the book, I realized at this point, was beginning to make sense: he was trying to convince Bella to stay away with him so that he wouldn’t have to convince himself to stay away from her.

But I digress.  On to things I didn’t like about the movie.

First thing: The first two-thirds or so of the story.

Even knowing why Bella and Edward acted the way they did, the first part of the story was poorly assembled.  The characters seemed to move backwards in their decisions as much as forwards, never making up their minds whether they were coming or going.  Edward waffles between avoiding Bella and stalking her – behavior which, by the way, is not excused by his motives.  I liken this now to a story from Bill Cosby:

BELLA: *drooldrooldrool*

EDWARD: C’mere, c’mere, c’mere – gettaway, gettaway, gettaway!  C’mere, c’mere, c’mere – gettaway, gettaway, gettaway!

BELLA: *drooldrooldrool*

Every time Bella tries to initiate social contact with Edward, he freaks out and runs away.  As soon as she loses interest, he starts talking to her again, which makes her interested again, and the whole cycle starts over.  Finally, he realizes that this just isn’t working, and he gives in to his cravings and initiates a relationship.

Second thing I didn’t like: OMG BELLA SMELLZ SO GUD!

Part of the reason that Edward is supposed to be attracted to Bella is because she smells so appetizing.  This is hinted at by Edward and later confirmed by Alice, Rosalie, and James.  For whatever reason, Bella smells much, much tastier than the average human.

Why?

No explanation is given for this.  But more damningly, no reason is given for this.  Edward’s desire to learn about Bella the old-fashioned way is enough of a reason for him to be attracted to her without the whole OMGSMELLZLYKEFUD aspect.

The only part of the plot that this affects is James’ desire to eat her.  Even so, the plot could have done without it.  I would have been more than happy to assume that James – the PSYCHOTIC one, remember? – has some strange penchant for taking things claimed by other vampires.  Or has a penchant for eating young women, if the writer had taken the time to set that up instead of choosing a seemingly-random string of deaths.  Which brings me to the very last thing I didn’t like about Twilight.

The James subplot.

What the heck?  The first two-thirds are an angsty romance story.  But that plot manages to wrap itself up without any trouble, so you have to throw in a new plot about a crazy killer vampire just to make things interesting.  This vampire isn’t even a good villain – he’s just some one-off nutball who is conveniently too crazy to live.  (Very convenient, SMeyer, how he was so crazy that the “only” way to save Bella was to tear him to shreds.  Is that how you justify killing?)  To make matters worse, this whole awful subplot could have been avoided if the she had just gone back and fleshed out the other two plots of the movie: Bella settling into Forks, and Bella’s relationship with Edward.  There was plenty of material to work with.  She could have gone back and worked Ed and Bells’ whirlwind romance into a believable, time-consuming story.  For the love of Pete, she could have gone back and given Bella some character development.  Instead, she leaves the romance segment feeling raw and rushed, and tacks on a completely irrelevant climax.  Way to go, Steph.

And those, in essence, are my thoughts on Twilight.  Unfortunately, the few cosmetic things that I liked about the movie weren’t really enough to redeem the poor story assembly, and as such I cannot honestly say that this was a very enjoyable film.  I do, however, credit Robert Pattinson on his very competent portrayal of Edward, and look forward to seeing what he can do with the character in the sequels.

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