Tuesday, November 25, 2008
One of my biggest issues with Twilight was the editing of the film – I do not have a bone to pick with the editor, but the director. It’s a basic filmmaking rule that every cut you make and shot you choose needs to have a purpose. Catherine Hardwicke seems to have forgotten this. More than once she will cut away to something like the camera moving through trees, or hand held, canted, swinging camera shots that pull you away from the characters and the emotional impact of what is happening and make you think about what the camera is doing. When she should be sticking with the characters she goes elsewhere.
Then there is the random cutaways in the movie to the villains activities (which are totally unnecessary) and the cuts to the flashbacks (also totally unnecessary). Both of these pull you away from something crucial that is happening to our main characters. While I understand the desire to show the villains before they confront our main characters this also takes away some of the impact of our villains – they lose some of the scare factor when you see them “playing with their food”.
The flashbacks and dream sequences were another kind of bad entirely – not only were they pointless, but they were really stupid. The flashbacks were filmed in sepia and when they were used even though they were being narrated by characters they seemed entirely unmotivated – I am really not sure how that was accomplished. Rather than having the flashbacks add to the story they detracted from it because they were so incredibly different than everything else on screen and thus pulled you again out of what was happening to our characters and made you feel like you were watching a TV documentary.
The dream sequences were very similar to this. Instead of helping the movie they hindered. Most specifically there is one image that kept repeating that was not only out of character for the film but having read the book it had no place being associated with Bella our lead character; this would be the classic gothic image of Bella in a black dress, draped across a bed with Edward in classic Dracula-esque attire draped over her. This is the image of lust of both for blood & sex – it’s the image of fear not endearment. One of the crucial things that makes Bella and Edward different from the characters in an Anne Rice-type novel is that they are not defined by their lust or the traditional image of the vampire and victim – Bella and Edward fight any urges that would make them into this stereotype for the safety and well being of the other.
I also took issue that Bella all too often seemed afraid of Edward. One of the most crucial things about Bella is that she is never afraid of Edward. Between her dreams, and her reactions to Edward Bella very much seems to be frightened of Edward at crucial moments – her actions do not fit her dialogue.
One of my biggest problems with the films structure was actually the last shot of the film. Instead of remaining on our lovers Edward & Bella who again, should be the focal point of the story we are taken to Victoria one of the villian’s of the piece. It is an obvious trick to set up a sequel and it is unnecessary as the story is already left open for the next chapter by Edward and Bella in the scene before.
On the technical side of things I had to major issues – the makeup and the special effects.
Let’s start with the makeup. All of the Cullen family looked painted white – not only was this unimaginative, but it looked bad. On top of this the makeup staff did not take the time to blend the color into the characters necks or other exposed skin so the vampires looked two-toned. This oversight was student film bad.
Then you come to the special effects; I understand that this film didn’t have a huge budget, but with a film that requires a certain amount of effects and CGI you make sure that you get the best bang for your buck and that it all works in the story instead of detracting from it. One of the major differences between Twilight’s vampires and traditional vampire mythology is that these vampires are not hurt by sunlight, the reason they do not go into the sun is because it would attract attention and show them as otherworldly – they sparkle in the sun. When my friend and I saw Edward step into the sunlight we actually laughed – the effect was cheesy and unfinished looking – it merely looked like they’d sprinkled the actor with glitter. Then you have the fun of the fast moving, quick reacting, super strong vampires – it looked cheap and out of place, not to mention it was used at the oddest times; if you can’t afford the shots find a way to shoot around it without cheating your audience.
There were some good things about this film, but I will save that for if I review this movie again. I do feel like I could study Twilight more and it would be beneficial for me to diagnose why the movie did and did not work; parts of the movie were good and captured the characters decently well, but these were so few and far between that they could not overpower what was not done well in the film. I have seen movies that are much better than Twilight, but I have also seen movies that are way worse than Twilight. In the end I really think that if you handed me the existing footage I could edit the film into a better movie.
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Writer: Melissa Rosenberg
Bella Swan: Kristen Stewart
Edward Cullen: Robert Pattinson
Charlie Swan: Billy Burke
Esme Cullen: Elizabeth Reaser
Charlisle Cullen: Peter Facinelli
Alice Cullen: Ashley Greene
Rosalie Hale: Nikki Reed
Jasper Hale: Jackson Rathbone
Emmet Cullen: Kellan Lutz
Jacob Black: Taylor Lautner
Billy Black: Gil Birmingham
Laurent: Edi Gathegi
Victoria: Rachelle Lefevre
James: Cam Gigandet
Edward Cullen: And so the lion fell in love with the lamb.
Isabella Swan: What a stupid lamb.
Edward Cullen: What a sick, masochistic lion.