As Bad As You Thought?: Twilight
Let me begin this week’s adventure into bad moviedom with a statement; I love vampires. Of all the monsters in horror movies they are hands down my favorite; from the classy (Dracula, Dark Shadows) to the hip (The Lost Boys, Fright Night) so with that in mind you have to understand that this movie I am about to recap and review for you offends me personally. As long as I can remember vampires have been cool creatures of the night so imagine my shock to find out that teenage girls today prefer bloodsuckers who go to high school and stalk girls, but not in a feeding off them way but in a way that gets you on a government list. The franchise started off as a series of young adult novels by Stephanie Meyers, which caught fire with young girls because it preyed on the isolation and feeling of awkwardness that all teenagers feel, by giving them a bland heroine they can project themselves onto who is popular with everybody and has two hunky monsters fighting over her. The two leads acting ( use the term loosely) in this film are relative newcomers to acting, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, who prove that maybe unknown actors are unknown for a reason and not every young actor you cast is going to be a Haley Joel Osmett. I could go on but I’ll spare you and let the movie do the talking, so here it is for your pleasure, Twilight.
When your movie begins with the protagonist in voiceover telling you she has never given much thought into how she might die, you know you’re not going to be in for a rollicking good time and this exactly how this flick begins. While she talks we see a deer try to run away from something and then someone grabs them which leads into an awkward transition to our protagonist in Arizona, Bella. Bella continues moping philosophically about how her mom and stepfather are about to hit the road travelling so she is going to stay with her dad in a small town in Washington.
When she arrives in Washington with her dad we learn that she was not awkwardly reading off cue cards in the voiceovers but instead that’s how she really interacts with people. And we see these awkward people skills put to good use when dealing with her own father who is the chief of police and lives in a magic house. How is it magic, you ask? I’m glad you asked, you see from the outside this house is massive (a little too big for the salary of an honest cop in a small town) but apparently the inside is so small that he mentions he only has one bathroom, must be reverse Time Lord technology. Before she can unpack she must go outside and show her lack of people skills off to her father’s friends; a guy and his son, Jacob who have sold them a truck for Bella to use and I think she is trying to be enthusiastic about it, but I can’t really tell. I must apologize for the absence of my usual wit and insults at this point, but so far the movie has been just a series of people meeting and exchanging awkward silences, you know character development stuff.
Bella takes her new truck for test spin to school, that was quick I don’t even think she unpacked her suitcase yet. Her disembodied voice tells us is in the middle of the semester and I can’t think of a reason why that is relevant to anything but I guess if I’m ever on Cash Cab and I get asked about it I’ll know. I find it odd that for such a small town, there are tons of kids at this school I guess the adults here in the town are incredibly fertile. Bella walks into the school and immediately encounters a kid who knows her name and everything about her and offers to bend over backwards for her, because that’s not creepy, but as we learn later on creepers are her type. A few seconds later she makes new friends immediately in PE after hitting a kid with a ball, and they’re not the usual kinds of friend like we normal people have, no these are the overly friendly flattering types who seem as if they are trying to sell you something whether it be a new car or a new religion. Did I miss Rod Serling somewhere telling me this school was located in the Twilight Zone. I’m sure if you are a person and you are reading this you know full and well that NOBODY makes friends like this in reality unless the people wanting to be their friends have a mental disorder or our the before mentioned people trying to sell something. I guess it’s lucky that all these strange kids are friends with each other and sit together at lunch where they can all be creepy and overly friendly to our protagonist together. I would tell you the names of these characters but they don’t really serve any purpose other than to give the illusion that Bella is popular all of a sudden, I mean I don’t even think they have names; oh but one of them is played by Anna Kendrick, she was awesome in Up in the Air and Scott Pilgrim, what is she doing here?
At lunch things begin to get interesting as a group of pale kids walk in, the Cullens, and one of Bella’s new bland friends tell us all about them, and I mean really all about them as they walk in two at a time. Is this a school for creepers who can’t function in regular schools? And then, as if sent by the heavens the final one walks in, Edward *sigh*. Immediately these star crossed kids, Bella and Edwards exchange awkward glances with each other, her eyes express, well the same nothing she’s been expressing the whole movie thus far, while his eyes express, I can’t tell it looks like that look you give when you’re trying to figure out who cut the cheese. Filmmakers take note this is how you establish chemistry between your two romantic leads. Now, why do vampires go to lunch in the cafeteria, no school I ever attended had a blood bank in the lunch room? But I guess the bigger question is, why do vampires go to school?
After lunch Bella goes to science class which is taught by a guy who looks like Franklin from True Blood, this makes me wish he would show up so we can get a real vampire in this movie. Bella counts herself lucky in this class because the only available seat (the way people have been acting to her thus far I’m surprised their not pushing people out of seats to make room for her) is by the dashingly handsome, Edward *swoon*. Wow with his Morrisey-esque hair and the way he looks like he’s about to toss his cookies, I can see why she crushes on him. For the record, whenever I try to hit on girls by making the “about to puke face” they always seem grossed out, must be because I’m not a vampire. He does not return her affection because he runs away as soon as he can; and the next time we see him he’s in the office trying to change classes.
After school, Bella goes to a local eatery with her father and of course is beset by townspeople who adore her and want to talk to her. Either Stephanie Meyers went way over board in trying to make happy the fans to who live vicariously through Bella, or this town is a cult compound and nobody has mentioned it yet. But once they leave her and her dad the social awkwardness returns, it gets so bad that she picks up a ketchup bottle and doesn’t actually squirt any onto her plate, but just kind of holds it a while; my god people at least discuss the weather or something. I’m kind of relieved to learn that this is just another scene pointless to the story and we go right back to her house where she is studying and talking to her mother on the phone, oh waitaminute, this scene also goes no where and has no relevance to anything.
At school she is distraught to learn that Edward has not shown up in quite a while, maybe he came to his senses and realized that super powered immortals don’t have to go to school, but I have my doubts. Bella goes to a school full of people pining for her attention and yet it’s the creepy guy with no personality whom she is distraught over, is this a girl thing because I frankly I have no clue. All the while she continues in her boring voiceovers….*yawn* oh sorry I’m as excited to hear her read these lines as she is about reading them to me. Elsewhere we get our first idea that something is amiss because, a guy at a factory is attacked by three other people, but that could actually be exciting so we go right back to Bella who slips on the ground and helpfully informs us that, she is uncoordinated, see character building at it’s finest. Her dad has informed her about the guy in the factory getting killed and he’s going to help investigate because he’s the police chief in a different jurisdiction and there’s no crime for him to stop apparently.
Bella returns to school and despite all the guys constantly hitting on her, the best part of her day is easily the fact that, Edward has returned to his seat beside her in biology class *sigh*. Though given the timeline of her day we saw previously, shouldn’t she have seen him at lunch beforehand, but if the filmmakers don’t care about that, then neither do I. Today he must have gotten the point and politely introduces himself and stares at her the entire class, has anybody told him about personality extremes and how they draw suspicion from normal people. Robert Pattinson delivers his line in a very stilted manner filled with dramatic pauses, another graduate of the Shatner Academy of Acting Sciences. After class he still follows her around asking her questions, and she still does not find it strange at all that the guy who was abrupt to her and avoiding her a couple of days ago is now her number one fan, it can’t be that she is starved for attention. He does apologize for asking her personal questions constantly but informs her that he finds her hard to read with all the flirtatious skills of a serial killer. She finally notices that it looks like he has an eye infection and thinks he has gotten contacts which sends him walking away again, I think their shared ability when it comes to the social arena is what attracts them to each other because I can’t think of any other reason. This leads us to the parking lot where a trucks looses traction in the rain and starts coming right at Bella, but luckily Edward dives in front of the vehicle and stops it with his bare hands and runs off like, Barry Allen and in true Bella fashion, she does not freak out about the display of superpowers she has just seen but instead just kind of stands there until she is taken to the hospital.
In the ER we meet the patriarch of the Cullens, who also has freakishly pale skin and an eye infection; as she walks out she finds herself eavesdropping on a Cullen family conversation but is discovered, so Edward goes to talk to her. This conversation happens to be the first in a series of verbal abuses from Edward that her character will endure over the course of the franchise, which is a huge point of contention with me and many other critics of the Twilight movies/books, because in the real world putting people down like that is frowned upon to say the least and for good reason, but in the series of Twilight it is just one more thing that makes Edward desirable, *groan*. And it doesn’t end there, because the very next scene is Edward in her bedroom watching her sleep, I guess Stephanie Meyers inhabits a strange land where abuse and stalking are commendable actions because why else would the guy Bella falls for because he’s so perfect do those things. She can not even interact with her adoring public at school, because she only has eyes for Edward. I’m personally fond of the the part where one of her nameless guy friends asks her to prom, while she’s staring wistfully at Edward who is standing there grimacing about something, and she tells the guy instead to ask Anna Kendrick’s character, but you know who would want a hottie like Anna Kendrick when they can have the depressing black hole of personality of Kristen Stewart on their arm?
On a field trip for her biology class, Edward continues his dreamy stalker rampage demanding she answer his questions and eventually telling her they should not be friends, in the hundreds of years he has been a vampire you think he would have seen a therapist about his roller coaster of emotions he is always on. The next day at school, he returns to being nice and polite with her telling her that they still should not be friends and should avoid each other (he approached her), and that he is not the hero that he is the bad guy (bwahahahahahaha!!!!!!); I don’t know about you when I think of villainy; Dr. Doom and the Joker do not pop into my mind but instead an emotionally troubled high school kid is the very essence of evil. Bella informs him that it’s okay and she wants to hang out with him at the beach, bipolar disorder and all. To any normal people who might be reading this when a creepy stalker guy who seems like he wants to murder you pops up in your life telling you he is a “bad guy” do not invite him to hang out, call the police.
On the day of the beach, she runs into Jacob again who apparently has history with the Cullens. When she asks him about it he tells her the legend of his people; according to legend his tribe descended from werewolves and the Cullens were an enemy clan who feuded with them over the land, like a supernatural Hatfield and McCoy. Elsewhere at a boat house, a poor man minding his own business is attacked by the Black Eyed Peas who say they are going to eat the poor guy, but it’s up to our imagination as to whether they do or not, I guess seeing vampires do vampire things is still frowned upon in this movie.
At school the next day we learn that on the few sunny days of the years the creepy pale kids with eye infections and supernatural abilities skip school, curious thing that is. But Bella makes a plan with her female nameless friend to go shopping for a dress with them for prom. While her friends go shopping though, she goes to a book store and buys a book, must be an important book. Being the intellectual giant that she is, Bella decides to walk through a dark alley where a drunken group of guys looking up to no good are hanging out, it’s a shortcut I guess. Inevitably they try to start something with her but, Edward comes zipping up and rescues her using all the intimidation that a pale kid with an out of style hair cut can muster, but it apparently does the trick.As the pair drive off he freaks out about the horrible things those guys were going to do, using the supernatural vampire ability of simple observation. Naturally this leads to another mood swing as he returns to sweet and polite Edward who takes her to dinner. He proceeds to make it the most awkward meal one person has ever had with somebody else. He refuses to let her leave the table and tells her with all the conviction that he can muster that he feels very protective of her, Pattinson delivers this line with so much force and emotion that it’s like he is trying to convince the audience down to the very pit of their soul that it’s true, you can’t help but laugh because his over the top acting ranks up there with every Batman villain from the Schmucher era of that franchise. Continuing on this theme of making everyone uncomfortable he informs young Bella that he can read the thoughts of everyone around him, including the heavy set guy thinking of his cat, and as if on cue the man lets out a sigh as soon as Edward says this, that’s how you keep the dramatic tension of a scene flowing young aspiring filmmakers of the world. But for some reason he can not read Bella’s mind, great pick up line, all the while Kristen Stewart continues displaying her range of emotions when it comes to acting such as; staring blankly as well as biting bottom lip; but not to be outdone Rob Pattinson matches her with the ability to stare intently, man the very air is electrified by the raw power of their acting talent. On the way back home, she learns that his hands are cold, apparently this has nothing to do with the fact that he lives in cold and rainy Washington; before the topic is pursued further they happen upon their respective fathers at a crime scene where another person has been attacked by the kind of animal that drains people of blood like the guy at the factory.
When she returns home that night, Bella begins her sleuthing by using google to look up vampire mythology. Apparently in this universe instead of different regions of the world having their own mythologies about the blood drinking undead like in the real world, they all seem to agree on the same traits that vampires have, well that’s helpful in solving this thing. Naturally she must confront him about this and they go off into the woods together. He informs her that he has been seventeen for a while and the camera starts spinning around them and shooting from weird angles as she announces that he is, A VAMPIRE. He decides to prove his love to her by taking her into the sunlight and showing her what he really looks like. Now when I was taken to see this movie originally I had no knowledge of anything Twilight related so when the vampire said he was going to take her into the sunlight, I said to myself, “he’s going to commit suicide to prove he loves her, man this guy really is emotionally unbalanced”. Oh, little did I know, because this next scene proved to me that there was no turning around in quality for this movie, and if anything things were going to get much much worse. He runs up the mountain in a very Crouching Tiger fashion but with worse visual effects, then he steps into the rays of the sun, and glitters like a kindergarten girl’s arts and crafts project. To the hilarity of all he informs her that it is the skin of a killer, failing to realize that when you’re glittering like a fairy and a girl has just called you beautiful, you have no hope of saying any lines that sound menacing especially when you haven’t actually killed anyone, a prerequisite I would say to being a killer. I mean I have never seen a living organism that killed people that glittered. Ed Gein? Not glittery. Sharks? Not even a sparkle. Freddy Krueger? No sparkling in the dreamworld. Jack the Ripper? That one I’m not sure of but my money is on, no he did not. But still doesn’t stop him from proclaiming that he’s the world’s apex predator, he doesn’t look like a shark to me or even Randy Orton for that matter. After making a big melodramatic show about how dangerous he is he tops it all off by telling her that he wants to kill her and drink her blood soooooo bad, because last time I checked that’s what vampires, you know, do, they seduce women kill them and drink their blood right? But fear not Bella trusts him, because she’s dumb, and he continues ranting about how his family are vegan vampires who don’t eat people (backing up the dangerous killer cred he’s been trying to build up) spouting off dialogue so terrible that it makes you wonder if this is a bad fanfic (it is).
Apparently the bonding time in the woods was beneficial because when they return to school together (oh my) Edward is strutting around in sunglasses like the dorky kid in 80’s movies after he just bagged the hot chick. He even invites her over to his families mansion in the middle of no where, which is full of windows, but aren’t the vampires afraid that the sun will….oh wait never mind. When she brings up the home decor he asks if she were expecting; coffins and dungeons and such, no because that kind of stuff that cool vampires have, no you my friend live in a house that looks like an art museum. They find the Cullen family making spaghetti for their guest, are these people the Waltons of the undead world? And just like everyone else in this strange town they are falling over themselves to appease Bella. Around the house he shows her all the museum exhibits in their home including the caps and gowns from all their high schools, so this isn’t a new thing, they must think that it’s normal for supernatural beings to go to school; but not even in Sunnydale, the town known primarily for two things; vampires and a dangerous high school, the vampires did not go to the school, unless they were hungry; man, I wish vampires like that were in this movie. This family visit ends with him playing the piano for her, with all the imagery of an over-dramatic 80’s music video.
As if that weren’t bad enough, Edward breaks into her bedroom again and tells her that he enjoys watching her sleep, and Bella promptly calls the cops, and the wussiest vampire in film history is taken to jail without a fuss and the movie ends. Sorry, that’s how things in the real world would have ended, in Twilight, she lets the creepy guy have his first kiss with her, these movies have to give moral support to stalkers and would be serial killers all over the world, inspiring them in the same way Rocky inspires down and out underdogs. Before the make out session between the characters progresses into anything fun, Edward flies to the other side of the room in panic, because if there are two things that do not go together, they are vampires and sex. Not only does the vampire keep his chastity built in place he stays all night and just watches her sleep. I am reminded of the absolutely brilliant and emotional graphic novel, Blankets, and one of the themes in that story is the power of simply sharing a bed with the someone you love, needless to say this movie does not even come close to approaching the emotional depths of that story, so here two people in “love” sharing a bed just comes off as incredibly silly. In keeping with the tradition of the creeper/sissy vampire, being a gentleman when he’s not being moody and unintentionally hilarious; he asks Bella’s father for permission to take her on a date. The date happens to be a family game of vampire baseball. I want you to read that statement again and then smash your head with a brick a few times then read it again, and it might make sense and not be laughably stupid then. The stupidity of kung-fu/vampire baseball is on complete with bullet time and sweeping action shots and goofy tricks and….my god how I hate this movie. Interrupting their game and coming out of the mists is, the Black Eyed Peas vampires from earlier, you know they supposedly killed those random guys even though we did not see it happen, we just assume it happened.
The two vampire groups begin negotiations and one of them starts a staring contest with Edward, what he does not know he is competing with the Babe Ruth of staring at things intently. His name is apparently, James, and of course he notices Bella is naturally a Happy Meal for vamps and tries to make advances at her. Edward freaks out and takes Bella away, claiming that he won’t stop until he catches Bella. You know there are like five Cullens against one douchey vampire with a ponytail, why don’t they just stake him and be done with it? They do have the numbers advantage even if his friends jump in. But vampires fighting each other might be fun to watch, and instead Bella is rude to her father and leaves in a hurry.
In a further show of misogyny, as she drives away, Edward runs up beside the truck and orders her to let him drive, because women driving their own vehicles, please, who does she think she is Gloria Steinem? They form a vampire convoy to escort her out, because actually fighting the evil vampire would be make too much sense. Alice Cullen offers to protect Bella from James and his gal pal who seems to be competing with Bella in the lack of personality contest going on. Alice has the vampire power of remote viewing and sees that James is heading towards a room full of mirrors, which Bella deduces immediately is her old ballet school because that’s the only mirror filled room in the world I guess. Bella receives a phone call from James who claims he and his girlfriend, Victoria have taken her mom hostage and our at her old ballet studio, because they know where she took ballet of course. When she arrives at the dance school she discovers that it wasn’t her mom crying for help over the phone with her, but the video James stole from her house with her mom on it; he even tells her that given what he’s seen from that video she was a stubborn child, so at one time she did have a will of her own and was not beholden to an emotionally unbalanced vampire, that’s refreshing I guess. He menaces her as much as a douchey teenage vampire can and breaks her leg, though he seems more obsessed with Edward than her, maybe there was something to that staring contest they had earlier. Naturally our “hero” shows up and fights James in order to save Bella. What follows is a Matrix-lite battle between the two which results in Bella getting bitten and the other Cullens coming in to make Edward feel like a loser for not stopping the guy (in the nicest way possible of course) and supposedly they rip James apart and burn him, but all we see is a fire and them jumping on the poor guy, because violence in a movie about vampires is absurd. Come to think of it I don’t feel like calling them vampires anymore; they don’t have fangs, they don’t have a cool house, they play baseball, they don’t kill people, they don’t burn up in the sunlight, they don’t have sex, and generally are just lame, for lack of a better word I’m gonna call them pale people.
In order to get the “vampire venom” out of Bella, the Cullens nominate the bloodthirsty brute, Edward. Why not the daddy pale guy, he seems to be able to control how much blood drinking he does, why did they choose the emotionally troubled guy who by his own admission is obsessed with her? Anyways, as predicted, Bella survives and wakes up in the hospital to find Edward and her mother lovingly looking over her. Once her mom leaves, Edward recounts how they stopped James but Victoria escaped, I’m not sure what they mean like that she just kind of ominously disappeared after the baseball game, oh and he wants to continue stalking her and treating her in a way that would make normal girls, incredibly uncomfortable. The movie ends with the vicious killer Edward taking Bella to the prom; at the prom they run into Jacob who gives her an ominous warning and establishes that he and Edward have some kind of beef with each other and they further associate Jacob and his people with wolves, because, surprise surprise he’s a werewolf, big shock. The stupid couple’s prom date ends with the reveal that Victoria is the newest student at the school, is there a scholarship they offer to supernatural beings? It’s supposed to be an ominous foreshadowing thing, but I don’t care I wish she would brutally slaughter every character in this dumb movie. I don’t even see how she’s a threat, based on what we’ve seen in this movie all she does is walk around with her friends, not exactly villainous behavior.
Was it as bad as I thought? Oh, hell yes for a myriad of reasons. Firstly is the fact that Stephanie Meyers apparently hates women; her main character of Bella has no personality and no ambitions besides to be with the problematic guy who treats her like an object, constantly telling her what to do and fighting her battles for her. This series is obviously aimed at teenage girls, but instead of giving them a character to aspire to be like, she gives them a heroine who does nothing but act socially awkward and pine after the weird stalker who treats her like crap. The second biggest problem with this movie is the acting, the cast is made up entirely of young unknown actors and actresses and not a single one of them have any discernible talent, especially our two main characters. Kristen Stewart’s emotional range consists of bland and nothing, they could have pulled anyone off the street and they would have sufficed, and probably turned in a better performance. Robert Pattinson, does little more than stare intently at stuff and be an overall creeper and douchebag. The acting is so bad, I must wonder what the director was thinking when they yelled, CUT and decided it was A-OK for theaters. Another massive problem with this movie is the script; the plot is not overly complicated, but the dialogue is so bad, you can’t help but wonder if the lines were written by a person or maybe an extraterrestrial force trying it’s hand at human speech. Don’t believe me, then check out these lines from the movie:
” I’d never given much thought to how I would die… But dying in the place of someone I love seems like a good way to go.”
“All superhero stuff right? But what if I’m not the hero? What if I am the bad guy? ”
” Hold on tight, spidermonkey.” (never call the girl you’re trying to flirt with, spidermonkey)
And the way the actors, especially Pattinson, deliver these silly lines with so much emotion that you can’t help but find it hilarious. But the speaking is not the only part of the poor script that needs to be condemned, but also the structure of this seemingly simple plot. You see the entire story is based on the relationship between the two characters, yet we are never given a reason these two characters should be in love aside from the fact they are both young and attractive, which is one of the dumbest plot devices ever (see The George Lucas Guide to Screenwriting, Chapter 7: Anakin and Padme). But seeing how these characters have the depth of a mud puddle, I don’t believe they could have pulled off a believable relationship. The final problem with this movie is the way it treats vampire lore, call me petty if you wish, but as a lover of monsters I can not let this slide; as established there are many different cultures throughout history, but overall they are undead monsters who prey on the living; the the world of Twilight, “vampires” go to school and abstain from anything evil or sexual, they are incredibly boring and need to be forced to watch some Christopher Lee to learn what vampires are supposed to act, or even Count von Count for that matter. This is one of those movies that have no excuse for it’s badness, it does not take a massive budget to fix problems like; script and acting, yet problems like this persist throughout making for a poor experience.