Twilight (2008)

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For a movie about ancient feuds between rival vampire families and werewolves, Twilight is painfully dull. Unlike Underworld, a film with the same premise, there’s no action or excitement. This might be because the film is presented from the perspective of the most boring high school girl in the history of the universe. Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) has just moved in with her chief-of-police father (Billy Burke) in the small town of Forks, Washington because her recently re-married mother wants to travel with her new husband.

Of all the characters in the film, Bella is the least interesting. Kristen Stewart portrays her with a blank stare as she mumbles her way through the dialogue. She looks like she doesn’t want to be there. For some reason, people in the film flock to her now that she’s moved to this new school. They can’t get enough of Blanda. Ahem… Bella, that is. These other characters smile, joke around and seem to actually have personalities, yet they’re somehow drawn to Bella? The editor of the high school paper even wants to write a front page feature about her arrival at the school. I realize it’s a small town, but is this really front page news? It’s as if the universe revolves around her.

TLS8Behold, the expressionless face that permeates the entire picture.

In an early scene, Bella even impresses new friends Jessica (Anna Kendrick) and Mike (Michael Welch) with her quick-witted ‘sense of humor.’ Can anyone explain to me what makes this joke so funny that it’s deserves a full  twelve seconds of on-screen laughter?

Jessica: Hey, you’re from Arizona, right?

Bella: Yeah.

Jessica: Aren’t people from Arizona supposed to be, like, really tan?

Bella: Yeah, maybe that’s why they kicked me out.

Jessica (laughing): That’s so funny!

TLS1You’re good!

Oh, and speaking of bland, Bella’s love interest is a perfect match for her. Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) also absently stares, mumbles, and broods in much the same way. At least thirty percent of this film features Bella and Edward staring longingly at each other from great distances. The plot kicks off because Edward, a secret vampire who can read minds, has a hard time reading Bella’s thoughts. Probably because she’s so brain-dead there’s nothing going on there. He is viciously attracted to her because he can’t read her mind. Creep.

For no other purpose than to pad the running time, the two of them play head games as they pretend not to be interested in each other. First, Eddie C. tries to drop a class just to avoid Bella. Then Bella wants him even more because he’s the one person in school who won’t talk to her. He’s extremely moody as he struggles  to reconcile his attraction to Bella with his vampiric instinct to murder her.

Bella discovers Edward’s true identity through a series of convenient, absurd coincidences. Fist, she notices that Edward has some kind of super strength and speed when he zooms across a parking lot and punches a car to stop it from hitting her. Later, Bella’s First Nations friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who will reveal himself to be a werewolf in the next film, explains that the Cullen family has been banned from their native reservation for having some kind bad blood with tribe. He shrugs it off as folklore at the time, referring to the Cullen’s as ‘the cold ones.’

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Time for Google search: the movie.

 Luckily, through a bit of internet research and the purchase of a random book, Bella pieces together the clues: the super-speed and extra strength displayed by Edward makes him a Vampire. How is it that two words – ‘cold ones’ – lead her to the Vampire conclusion? Well, I suppose the plot needed her to figure it out.

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While Bella searches, the movie becomes a series of words.

When Bella confronts Edward about his vampireness, he looks her in the eyes and says, “I’m a killer… I’ve killed people before. I want to kill you. I’ve never wanted a human’s blood so much.” This is terrifying, right? It should be, since he’s essentially uttering death threats.

Bella’s reaction, though, is simply: “Doesn’t matter; I don’t care. I trust you.” What does that even mean? Trust him to what?! He admits his intention is to kill her… does she trust him to do so? Is that what she wants? Why is she even attracted to a guy who has done nothing but stare at her and stalk her around town? Then when he confesses to murder, that seals the deal. This is the guy to pursue. And Cullen is so excited when she accepts him, he invites her to dinner at his family’s place.

TLS2They say a toddler’s brain is attracted to shiny things. This may explain a lot about Bella.

The Cullen’s have an extremely private residence in middle-of-nowhere Washington. They could easily hide out in this house in the woods. They can hunt for deer when necessary, and avoid humans altogether in order to stave off the temptation of eating them. They could live peacefully among themselves. That would make too much sense though. Instead, Carlisle Cullen (Peter Facinelli), head of the vampire family, sends these idiots to high school. His vampire foster children are over one hundred years old, and are still learning trigonometry. The movie expects us to believe they’ve been contentedly attending high school for the last eighty years.

So what, maybe Edward really enjoys learning. Being in high school is forgivable, but Edward’s over one hundred years old and is chasing a seventeen year old girl. And his whole family knows this, and encourages him. The creep factor is off the charts here.

TLS9Statutory rape is so romantic.

In the end, Bella’s family is kidnapped by a gang of rival vampires who want control of the Cullen’s territory, or something. It’s hard to care by the end. Bella rushes off to rescue her abducted mother, only to discover a trap. The evil vampires waiting for her suck her blood and she dies. At least, that’s what I wish had happened so that this series would have ended sooner.

Believe it or not, I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know how closely the film compares. With this in mind, I don’t see how this series has become such a phenomenon. For over an hour, nothing happens – it’s a girl and a guy staring at each other. Maybe in the books Bella has some kind of inner monologue that rationalizes her behavior, gives her motive, but I doubt it. Maybe she’s some kind of intellectual genius, a poet or philosopher, but too soft spoken for anyone to know. Whatever’s going on in her head was probably in the book, but it doesn’t translate to film. She’s a shy, quiet character who doesn’t talk very much. And rather than finding interesting or creative body language that could at least give the audience a sense of who she is and how she is feeling, the filmmakers have her stare ahead blankly in every scene.

Even for a bad movie lovers, I wouldn’t recommend this one. It’s more boring than funny. The dull acting, the constant staring. Nothing really happens and then once it does, it’s too late to care. It makes my blood (ha ha ha) boil  with how obnoxiously pandering this movie is towards its demographic, forcing an absolutely chemistry-free romance down their throats.


What is a Vampire?

Here’s the dictionary.com definition for the word Vampire:

  • noun
    a preternatural being, commonly believed to be a reanimated corpse,that is said to suck the blood of sleeping persons at night. 

Technically, everything there applies to the Twilight vampires, with the exception of the words ‘at night.’

The general traits given to a Vampire, based on the pop culture lexicon I grew up with, are as follows: A Vampire is a fanged humanoid undead creature that preys on the blood of humans, often by biting their necks. In order to become a Vampire, you must have your blood drained by another of the species. Vampires can only be killed by being shot with a silver bullet, a wooden stake through the chest, removal of the head, or by exposure to direct sunlight. Vampires can be repelled by Garlic, Bibles and crosses. They are generally nocturnal, sleeping in a dark tomb all day, and they hunt at night to avoid the sun’s harmful rays.

Now the Twilight Vampires share some of these traits, but with a lot of bonus features. In the Twilight saga:

  • Vampires never sleep
  • Vampires glitter ‘like diamonds’ in the sunlight – yet a few clouds can somehow prevent this
  • Vampires have superhuman speed and strength
  • Each individual Vampire has it’s own unique superpower (telepathy, visions of the future, etc.)

Based on the first film, it’s unclear if Vampires in this universe have the same weaknesses as listed above. I’m not sure if killing a Vampire is possible, or how, but I assume the method has some unique quirk.

Has Stephenie Meyer done anything wrong in creating her own type of Vampire? Not necessarily. The definition of Vampire has varied throughout folklore around the world over the ages. There’s nothing wrong with taking a little creative licence with the creatures. The Twilight vampires aren’t terrible because they’re different. Instead, the problem is that they’re a little too perfect. They’re indestructible and therefore dehumanised, thanks to all those power-ups. As if the bland performances in the film didn’t dehumanise the Vampires enough already, these traits really don’t help much.


 

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