Welcome back! Yesterday I examined the books in the Twilight Saga; today, we talk about the movies. I watched them so you don’t have to.
Instead of talking about each movie, I want to look at the elements across the board: casting, the director who needed to set the tone for the series, and just the limitations of the medium.
Remember how I said this was commercial fiction? Yeah, they picked a bad director for this. Hardwicke is a good director, but she is more known for critically acclaimed work. Sadly, she tried to put that spin on Twilight. First off, the script is straight up terrible in some places. When Edward calls Bella spider monkey? WTF??? I think Hardwicke was trying too hard with this film. She placed so much emphasis on wardrobe and creating an environment, that she missed that fact that this was supposed to be an enjoyable film. I really had high hopes for it the first time I ever saw it. The world was just coming off the high that was the Harry Potter film adaptations and there was hope for this. Every time I watch it now, I just cringe at sooo many places. This film should have set the tone for the films: instead it soured everything from the get go.
The casting in this series is really just terrible. It is like they only saw some people and the rest were signed on pictures along. For instance, Kristin Stewart. OMG. Like really, could they have found a worst actress? I know she gets a lot of indie recognition, but seriously, no emotion at all in this series. But Bella has emotions and a lot of those emotions are central to making her a likeable character. Kristin Stewart failed so epically.
Then there is Robert Pattinson. I have seen Pattinson in other films. He is not terrible. But it is like Kristin Stewart is a black hole for acting ability. Pattinson just sucks (pun intended) when acting with her. Edward is supposed to be this amazingly hot man with a beautiful voice. I originally picture Henry Cavil when I read Twilight, and after seeing him in Superman, I feel like he would not have sounded as pained as Pattinson did. Cavill has a lovely voice.
Across the board, the only casting choice I approve of is Taylor Lautner. Yes, he is not as tall as Jacob in the books, but Lautner perfectly captures the character. But this also just circles back to my Hardwicke argument: she was going for a “intellectual” film. Most of the other actors have stared in indie films and won praise. Lautner is straight up teen heartthrob/commercial appeal. And he is the only actor who works in the film. Imagine what the movies would have looked like if they were filmed the way they were intended: as straight up commercial fodder with undiscovered actors or at least actors who looked like they enjoyed themselves.
This was 50/50 for me. Again, it circles back to Hardwicke. I did not enjoy some of her musical selections. But as the series developed, there are some very great moments with the music. The theme song by Carter Burwel is a great example of how the music could be.
But you can see why I am 50/50. Listen to the music at the beginning of the clip; that just doesn’t fit. Carter Burwel is a genius with his compositions.
But the best moment for me in the series comes from the scene where Bella has fallen apart. I loved the way the time passing was handled in the books, and it was so beautifully translated in the movies and paired with the single best song for it.
So these were pretty cool up until vampire baby. The wolves actually kind of cool in the films.
Right around the 48th second is when the CGIs come in.
But vampire baby? That was too much.
Limitations of the Meduim
The problem with the films is the fact that these characters, which were so complex in the books, are distilled. Bella becomes whiny and a pushover, Edward more controlling and because movies have a much broader audience, that is how people remember the Twilight Saga. Though I do think the films got slightly better as new directors, who saw the material as more commercial, improved it.
And there you have it, folks, the first ever Book vs Movies Face Off. The next one won’t be for awhile because of time constraints, but there will be more.
P.S. trying to decide if I should invest time to watch the Twilight mini films.