Where to begin?
I have to first be forthcoming in saying that I did not read any of these books
by Stefenie Meyer.
And now, I have to add the disclaimer that I did sort of read the first book up until the part where Bella tells Edward that she’s figured out that he’s undead. And then I stopped.
Oh, it was good, don’t get me wrong: The Intelligent, Slightly Geeky, and Unknowingly Attractive Everygirl (Just like me! And probably like you!) meets the Hunky Teen Guy Monster. He loves her, but he wants to eat her; she gets strung along in a series of increasingly sexually tense moments, and he's all like “I love you so much I don't want to touch you."; he drives a cool car and can run fast; she drives an awesome truck and likes salads. Will Edward ask her to the prom, or will she have her jugular bitten through first?
I got the gist about somewhere near half-way through the book. It's Judy Blume for Cure fans. Or whoever the new Cure is these days.
So, if I didn’t actually read the book, and if I’m more or less lukewarm and a little bit snarky about teen vampire love stories in general, then why did I just spend $9.00 to sit through two hours of gore and hair gel. (Mostly hair gel.)
Here he is.
What a nice looking young man he is.
Why, he’s just the type of young man a hormonally complex 42-year-old woman would love to have for a…son.
Because, get real....the Demi Moore/Ashton Kutcher thing only works once every 125 years. And by the way, Ashton Kutcher is really 150 years old and a vampire.
Anyway, back to the movie.
I’m not sure what Kristen Stewart’s direction was throughout the movie, but if I had to guess, I’d say that on the first day on set, she stuttered through some lines and tried to hide her distaste for the character by shrugging often and restricting her vocal range to three notes lest she branch out willy-nilly into some emotion other than bored curiosity or occasional forced interest, and the director said, “That’s great, Kristen! Keep the stuttering and shrugging!” and she went with that character reading for the remainder of the shoot.
I don’t know. Maybe I was expecting too much. After all, I did only read about a third of the book. Did I really get to know this character? Was there ever anything more required than she mumble a lot, look fetching in her post-grunge wardrobe and studiously high-and-low-lighted hair coloring, and engage in all those teen attitudes that cause parents to shake their heads in stupefied wonder while other teens grumble in “you just don’t understand me” solidarity?
If this character is Everygirl - that is, if she is meant to pitch empathy with every girl who is bookish and brainy, tomboyish but ripe to become Cinderella at the prom (that she really doesn’t/does/doesn’t/does want to go to) with one foot in a Converse Chuck Taylor high-top and the other in a kitten pump; the quiet girl with the razor sharp wit; the gentle soul with the kind heart and the bitchin’ taste in music; the secret coolest girl in the school who only gets noticed by the guys who think Whoopie cushions are the height of romantic interlude; the girl who sits behind the quiet, intelligent guy who is oddly handsome and who has a similar sharp wit and who would be a perfect match for her but who never asks her to the prom because for all his smarts, he never once considered the diamond-in-the-flannel-shirt girl sitting behind him in English class and instead of waiting for fifth period when this secret cool girl was going to get up the nerve to ask him to the prom, he accepts an invitation to the prom with some other in-crowd girl as a “just friend” date and I missed my senior prom and went out to eat Italian food with my friend Joanne instead.
Anyway…this role was crying out for a young Ally Sheedy. Or young Diane Lane. Heck, even Anna Paquin. Someone who could pull off teen “gravitas” and get more mileage out of the shrugs. Instead, we got a warmed over Scarlet Johanssen with, okay, fewer pouts.
Edward, of course, was dreamy.
He acted all strong and good-looking and brooding and handsome and tortured and So Cute and passionate and hawt and misunderstood and muscular and intense and oh my gawd his hair was so thick and excellent - inhale! - and he asked Bella what she was thinking all the time but then he just wanted to look into her eyes and listen to her go on and on talking, and even though he wanted to devour her, he was perfectly fine with just snuggling and cuddling up in a grassy field with her forever and just holding her hand and none of that messy penis stuff.
Can you see why teen girls are going ape poop over Edward?
That said, I don’t think the movie could decide what it wanted to be as it was unreeling. Serious teen two-hearts-bleed-as-one romance? Horror film? Slightly campy B movie? Abercrombie and Fitch advertisement?
I liked the bit where we learned about the (rainy) day-to (rainy) day lifestyle of vampires. Did you know that vampires enjoy playing baseball? Also, vampires tend to drive very fast and have no remorse over wasteful use of fossil fuels. Some vampires are vegetarians. Still others have impeccable taste in architecture and interior design. And although vampires must absolutely devour V Magazine in their practiced attempt to appear human, they evidently can’t figure out that Bare Minerals makes a fantastic cream foundation in many life-like hues.
What was with all the powdery white makeup and purple lipstick, anyway? Good lord, it’s a wonder vampires don’t all walk bow-legged from rickets.
Well, except for the dark-skinned black vampire. That was the one moment in the movie where I had to suspend my disbelief and just go with it that - along with their mind-reading and the ability to play moody Windham Hill music on the piano - some vampires have super melanin powers while others don't.
The ending of the movie was surprisingly but finally gorey. Listen, if you’re going to talk about spilling human blood in the first act, you had better pull that trigger before the curtain goes down in act three. And pull it they did.
First! There was the cut hand.
Then! There was a sliced thigh.
Finally! Someone got a boo boo head.
Okay, there may have actually been more blood in the movie There Will Be Blood (although there wasn’t so much blood there, either), but you know how a cut head bleeds even if it’s just a little cut? Like a small fountain! Whew!
I especially liked how after the climactic scene of the vampire battle in the ballet studio - yes, I said ballet studio - the Doctor vampire instructed the other vampires on the importance of femoral arteries and how to tie tourniquets above the pressure point. You just didn’t get that level of commitment to verisimilitude in, say, Phantasm or Basket Case.
All in all, I had a great time. The movie is what it is and it ain’t no more. However, it was enough.
I predict hair gel sales to go through the roof in the next few weeks.
And you hear that teen boys? Try to be the strong silent type and use more hair gel. All those teen girls at the movie theater gushing over Edward…? That’s low hanging fruit, men.
So, to recap:
Hands to yourself.
Feast on live animals.
The secret cool girl will be yours.
P.S. Ebert's review was just about spot on.
If there were no vampires in "Twilight," it would be a thin-blooded teenage romance, about two good-looking kids who want each other so much because they want each other so much. Sometimes that's all it's about, isn't it?...
The movie, based on the Stephenie Meyer novel, was directed by Catherine Hardwicke. She uses her great discovery, Nikki Reed, in the role of the beautiful Rosalie Hale. Reed wrote Hardwick's "Thirteen" (2003) when she was only 14. That was a movie that knew a lot more about teenage girls. The girl played by Reed in that movie would make mincemeat of Edward. But I understand who "Twilight" appeals to, and it sure will.
Pasty white dudes are hawt.
P.P.S. This pre-teen vampire movie looks promising. Evidently getting rave reviews.