Editorials

THE VERDICT: Let's Talk about 'Twilight' for a Second

Read the book, watched the trailer and an opinion is made...

QUICK NOTE: Some text has been blacked out to avoid minor spoilers. To read the blacked out text just highlight it with your mouse.

Let's set the stage for the newcomers before I get ahead of myself. Twilight is a film based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Stephenie Meyer. The story centers on Bella as she moves from Phoenix, Arizona to the small town of Forks, Washington to live with her father. She paints herself as an outsider and assumes her time in Forks will be lived as one. To her surprise she makes friends fast, but her anxiety is never left at ease as one classmate has caught her attention and vice-versa. Edward Cullen glares at her with black eyes yet she can't stop thinking of him.

Edward's angry scowl isn't one of hate, at least not for Bella, it's due to his thirst for her. Edward is a vampire and he is drawn to Bella and his family's pledge to drink only the blood of animals prevents him from tasting hers, but the mutual infatuation soon grows into a relationship, one that constantly puts Bella in danger as Edward could be overcome by his desire at any moment. And our plot is created.

Based on gender stereotypes and the desire to appear manly, the fact that I am a 31-year-old male basically means I shouldn't like or even bother reading Meyer's "Twilight" because it is a sappy love story aimed at teenage girls and embraced by their connected-mothers. Some may argue that the fact that it has vampires should appeal to a male reader and would be the counter balance, but I would argue that anyone that doesn't see the relationship almost all vampires have with their prey as some sexual metaphor (and a romantic one at that) has been lying to themselves only in an effort to enjoy the blood factor. This basically rules out a well-written vampire novel as some gruesome excursion into testosterone.

Vampires have always appealed to me, but to find a truly good vampire story is not as easy as it may seem even though the market is constantly flooded with them. On top of that I don't actively search them out. In book form I fell in love with the aristocratic and high brow vamps Anne Rice spun and who didn't find some love in Stoker's "Dracula"? Stephen King's "Salem's Lot" was a passing interest only because I love King, but his vampires didn't have the lasting appeal Rice's do even though I grew tired of Lestat's rock band very quickly.

At the movies it's even harder. Blade and 30 Days of Night are your comic book versions and Underworld created its own mythology. Dracula, I don't think, has ever had a "great" appearance on the big screen. Interview with a Vampire was decent and Queen of the Damned ruined any chance of seeing The Vampire Lestat (an AMAZING book). From Dusk Till Dawn was fun, but I think most people will agree the film actually gets worse when the vampires show up. The Lost Boys is perhaps one of the best vampire movies out there and Van Helsing is so embarrassing even the audience that watches it should hide their face.

Suffice to say, Twilight is battling an uphill climb because what makes the book so good does not translate well into a blockbuster success. Oops, did I let the cat out of the bag? Yup, I liked "Twilight", a lot actually. I recommended it to my sister over Mother's Day weekend. She bought it and read it in a day and is already starting "New Moon".

Is there any reason to assume this is a book for girls? Well, yeah, in terms that it drips with "I love yous" and an endless amount of yearning, longing and pining. However, where I detested the sappy love story told in The Notebook, the sap here is warranted and not for what is said on the page, but for what happens in your head as you begin to examine the relationship between an immortal vampire and a not-so-common 17-year-old girl.

For example, Bella is 17-years-old and Edward was turned into a vampire at the age of 17, the difference of course being that Bella turned 17 in 2004 and Edward turned 17 in 1918. This means that we technically have a 17-year-old dating a 93-year-old. Hugh Hefner has got to be jealous of that, especially considering Edward doesn't have to worry about the wrinkles or Viagra.

Meyer plays the temptress with her writing building tension simply for a kiss and it works on every level. It's one of the only times I can remember actually wondering what would happen when the two main characters actually kissed. Romantic tension is built on the page and is a substitute for late night hunting parties as the vampires feed on wild animals. It's a love story with a mythological twist and in terms of action there really isn't much to be had, but it isn't needed.

However, a romance won't satiate the need most moviegoers must satisfy. "What? A vampire film and the blood sucking is kept to an absolute minimum?" That's right folks, actually in the book there isn't any blood sucking until the final moments of the story and even that isn't told in real time. "Twilight" is a romance through and through. It doesn't matter if that romance elevates your emotional meter or your tension meter, it's what it is and the movie is going to need to stick to that story because any deviation will only lessen the impact. Unfortunately, at the same time, it will decrease male interest.

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  • http://www.alltheshadesofgrey.net IsItThursdayYet

    Oh, I'm so glad you liked "Twilight!" Now I don't feel so weird.
    I'll admit, "New Moon" and "Eclipse" are not as good as "Twilight," but they are quite good as well. I, too, am very much looking forward to the movie even though I know it probably won't be able to live up to my expectations.

  • phinecia

    I'm glad you have read the book before trying to bash the movie! I do agree with you on most aspects of what you say. I do agree that some of the scenes don't match up with the book and they even added stuff that isn't in the book at all. I don't like that and think that will deter from the movie. However, you need to consider that the book is in Bella's head and there is really no way to get all the feelings and points across except to add stuff here and there. Also, I think that this film will be big just because the fans want it to be big. There will be action scenes that might draw in the guys but I can say for a fact that most guys will be dragged in by their girls!

  • twilight_fan

    Okay, so I have a question..... Who do you think you are criticizing "Twilight". I understand freedom of speech, but still!!! I mean just because you saw the trailer doesn't mean you are an expert on movies. You could be a critic or just someone who watches WAY too much movies, but that doesn't mean that you know shit about movies. This movie IS going to be a hit no matter what, whether the movie is good or horrible. There are enough teenage girls and their mothers in the world that will go and see the movie, more than once, and buy it. Plus, Stephenie Meyer has been on the set plenty of times, and she says that the movie is going to be just as good, if not better, than the books. So, my personal opinion is that this movie is going to be a HUGE hit!!!! As Harry Potter comes to a close "Twilight" is there to step in and take its place as the #1 movie.

    Plus, to reply to the last comment..... It is good that this person likes "Twilight". The more the better. But, I HIGHLY disagree with you that "New Moon" and "Eclipse" are not as good as "Twilight". The books get better as they go on. More intense and everything. I don't know maybe you just have to be a teenage girl, but as the books get more intense I OFTEN find my self breathless.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com bradbrevet

    twilight_fan said: Okay, so I have a question..... Who do you think you are criticizing "Twilight". I understand freedom of speech, but still!!! I mean just because you saw the trailer doesn't mean you are an expert on movies. You could be a critic or just someone who watches WAY too much movies, but that doesn't mean that you know shit about movies.

    Wow, didn't know "Twilight" fans were so vulgar. Nice to have you around twilight_fan I am sure there are plenty of other opinions I have that you can say are wrong. Search around and hate me more for my opinion, but please understand that I respect yours.

  • Laremy

    Sigh. I didn't want to have to do this... but I can't resist.

    Okay, so I have a question..... Who do you think you are criticizing "Twilight". I understand freedom of speech, but still!!!

    He thinks he is the owner of the site... because he is. But still? What does that even mean? DO you understand freedom of speech, and why it has nothing to do with anything we are talking about here? This is like you saying "I understand rabbits, but c'mon!!"

    I mean just because you saw the trailer doesn't mean you are an expert on movies. You could be a critic or just someone who watches WAY too much movies, but that doesn't mean that you know shit about movies.

    This comment makes you sound like an idiot. Not a bad thing, just something to keep in mind. The way our current culture works is that you build knowledge through experiences and research. Saying someone doesn't know "shit" about movies because they watch WAY too many is like telling a mechanic he might not know shit about cars just because he repairs them for a living. I'm sure you can find some valid criticisms if you try REALLY hard going forward. Let's see how you do!

    This movie IS going to be a hit no matter what, whether the movie is good or horrible.

    Have you seen early tracking? Define "hit." See, I would consider Step Up the the Streets a success but not a hit. Simply put, the intended demographic is small here. For it to actually become a blockbuster it will need to draw in a bigger audience than has read the book. Why? Because probably a few million people have read the book whereas you need 12 million or so to crack triple digits at the box office.

    There are enough teenage girls and their mothers in the world that will go and see the movie, more than once, and buy it.

    There ARE a ton of teenage girls AND mothers in the world, well spoken. However, do we include the mothers of children in other places in your statement? Will African mothers see this? How about Iranian ones? Also, if you know your demographics you know that men make up the large majority of ticket buyers. I'm not saying this is "right" or "cool" but it is a proven fact. Remember those? Facts?

    Plus, Stephenie Meyer has been on the set plenty of times, and she says that the movie is going to be just as good, if not better, than the books.

    Yes, but how does she KNOW this? No one can predict a hit from the set. It's actually impossible unless you're talking about a franchise that's already established (Potter, Pirates, LOTR). They could have done amazing work when she was on set and still make a terrible film. It all comes down to directing, editing, and how many talented people are involved in the creative process. Are you really of the disposition that if you say something it makes it true? Certainly you must be smarter than that, right?

    So, my personal opinion is that this movie is going to be a HUGE hit!!!! As Harry Potter comes to a close "Twilight" is there to step in and take its place as the #1 movie.

    My personal opinion is that Harry Potter will outgain by Twilight by at least half a billion dollars off the bat. My opinion is based upon a few years of box office trends and study. What's yours based upon again?

    Plus, to reply to the last comment..... It is good that this person likes "Twilight". The more the better. But, I HIGHLY disagree with you that "New Moon" and "Eclipse" are not as good as "Twilight". The books get better as they go on. More intense and everything. I don't know maybe you just have to be a teenage girl, but as the books get more intense I OFTEN find my self breathless.

    If you become TOO breathless you should see a doctor. You shouldn't sacrifice your health for a short term entertainment fix. Just my opinion, free speech, TWILIGHT RULZ 4-EVA.

  • vampure

    Laremy, You are rediculous.
    I find my self breathless as well. It's not something you can help.

  • hope4thefuture

    I'm glad there are guys out there who aren't afraid to read books that are supposedly aimed at a different group. The books truly do bridge gaps and appeal to a variety of people. I'm an 18 year old female..but I know a 16 year old redneck boy who's read Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse--and will hold discussions with my friend and I who pushed him to read them, while he's on the bus and in full hearing range of other young males.

    Ms. Meyer is just a wonderful author, and I hope, sincerely hope, that they don't deviate from the book all that much. I'd hate to see this turn into another Blood and Chocolate episode--took the names and ripped the book in half, swerving from the basic plot, changing EVERYTHING, and making the good guy a bad guy. My comfort is that they APPEAR to be sticking to the basic ideas and seem to be mostly true to the characters Ms. Meyer writes about. I'm also pleased to know that Ms. Meyer isn't throwing a fit--I write a bit myself, and I know I'd be none to happy if somebody took my stuff and changed it a lot. This must mean they're doing a fairly decent job.

    I can't wait to see it in theaters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! December is a LONG way away!

  • phinecia

    BRAVO Laremy! I'm sorry Twilight_Fan but it's people like you that give all Twilighters (like me) a bad name. You need to learn how to read other peoples opinions and NOT get offended by them. Everyone has an opinion and just because they don't agree with you doesn't make their opinion wrong. Just learn how to agree to disagree and your life will be so much better!

  • cullengirl1

    I love all the books and am hoping the first movie is a success so there will be sequels. So, thanks for giving the Twilight movie some attention even if it's not all positive. As you say, everyone is entitled to their opinion so here's mine. I would just like to ask if we can give Robert Pattinson a break. He has received so much criticism since he was cast in the role and has mentioned in almost every interview that he knows he isn't or can't be the "perfect" Edward Cullen. He appears to have put a lot of thought into his portrayal of the character and sincerely wants to do the part justice. I personally think he is gorgeous and he fits perfectly the image of Edward in my head.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com bradbrevet

    Hey cullengirl1, it's not that I am necessarily criticizing Pattinson as much as he just doesn't look like the Edward I envisioned. He certainly can't help that.

    Also, it's not his fault if that is the direction he is being given along with the lighting and the overall bright appearance the film seems to have based on the trailer. I think the dark and moody cast pic I included in this article is quite appropriate, but I didn't get that feel from the trailer at all.

    Oh, and I agree, no one can be the "perfect" Edward Cullen considering the character is ... perfect. :)

    I should also end this by saying that since I haven't seen the movie I can't really judge one way or another. He may end up being perfect. We'll have to wait and see.

  • cullengirl1

    bradbrevet said: Hey cullengirl1, it's not that I am necessarily criticizing Pattinson as much as he just doesn't look like the Edward I envisioned. He certainly can't help that.

    Also, it's not his fault if that is the direction he is being given along with the lighting and the overall bright appearance the film seems to have based on the trailer. I think the dark and moody cast pic I included in this article is quite appropriate, but I didn't get that feel from the trailer at all.

    Oh, and I agree, no one can be the "perfect" Edward Cullen considering the character is ... perfect. :)

    I should also end this by saying that since I haven't seen the movie I can't really judge one way or another. He may end up being perfect. We'll have to wait and see.

    Sounds reasonable. Thanks for the response. I am a little confused about the darkness of the photo vs. movie as well. I see Twilight more as a love story (and they seem to be playing up that aspect in the movie) so I picture Edward with a crooked smile more often than a scowl. I know they want the movie to appeal to a broader audience so that may have something to do with the scarry photo. (People are debating now whether or not it can be classified as a horror movie.) I am willing to give Catherine Hardwicke the benefit of the doubt in creating her interpretation/vision of the story. At any rate, I am going to love the movie regardless because (as you can tell) I'm "dazzled" by Robert Pattinson.

  • Noahsark

    Thank you so much for writing your story about reading 'Twilight'. I am 44 years old and had several friends try to convince me to read the series. They even went around taping up the back of their copies to get friends to read it without knowing what it was about because they didn't want people to base an opinion about the book because of the description on the back.

    A good friend of mine convinced me to read it w/o the tape up and I went from totally uninterested to totally comitted and obsessed with the series. From the intellectual way the you have talked about your "conversion", I think you will continue to see the growth of these characters and especially understand the chemistry between Bella and Edward. I am impressed with Edward and in his "moral" code, his humanity, and his desire to be better than what he is, as well as the rest of the Cullen family. I believe you get more from this series than most. I suspect that you will enjoy 'New Moon' and 'Eclipse' as well as Breaking Dawn, because of the continued knowledge you gain from each of these characters.

    I'm sorry that we have those twilight fans who use vulgar language to express their opinion. These seem to be the very people who tell us how much Stephenie Meyer has affected their lives, and yet there is no profanity in any of her books, nor have I ever heard her say a disparaging word to anyone, no matter their views.
    I appreciate all of your comments and it will be interesting to see how the movie turns out. I, for one, am hoping for the best. I spend way too much time researching about this series and about the movie, but than as I said, I'm totally obsessed.

    Thanks again for your thoughts.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com bradbrevet

    Noahsark said: I'm sorry that we have those twilight fans who use vulgar language to express their opinion. These seem to be the very people who tell us how much Stephenie Meyer has affected their lives, and yet there is no profanity in any of her books, nor have I ever heard her say a disparaging word to anyone, no matter their views.

    Exactly. I mean, if you read any of my articles I am not against profanity, but there is a time and place and I don't think when referencing what really boils down to a family friendly book is that place. Glad to see everyone else has a level head. :)

  • ManiacsRose

    First of all...New Moon and Eclipse I believe ARE better than Twilight. My favorite book is by far Eclipse, so far..with New Moon in a close second and Twilight in a close third.

    Now the movie. Someone said this I believe..the book is in Bella's perspective so the movie and book have to have many differences. The movie needs to be seen as 3rd person instead of 1st person, therefore the differences have to show 3rd person.

    Another thing...Stephenie Meyer saw this as if it were a movie. The person who would be the best judge of whether or not the movie is good WOULD be Stephenie Meyer. She wanted it to be a movie. I believe everyone knows what movies need in order to be a hit, or a good movie nonetheless. It neesd action, love etc. Which is what Stephenie Meyer's books have. The fact that she wrote it and finds the creation of the movie great, means it's going to be a good movie to the Twilight fans. She IS the major fan of the characters in the first place. They are all alive for her. She fell in love with them in one dream, and then later on in other books.

    If she says what she's seen of the movie looks great...especially if she says she thinks it's going to be better, if not as good..means the movie has more potential than anyone could ever imagine from book to movie. The fact that she is helping them out, come on! That is going to make the movie, not break it.

    FYI: I know that sometimes I might sound stupid, if you respond to this..please do not write 'you sound like an idiot here'..it's a rant from my mind to fingers. Hope you love the other books! They are fabulous.

  • Pricilla

    *le sigh* And another bites the dust. I'm sorry people, but in my honest opinion, you all need to open up your eyes and smell the Mary-Sue's and Gary-Stu's. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's basically making the characters in your novel super invincible that nothing ever bad happens to them. Meyer has made Edward a huge form of Gary-Stu that it's not even funny. And Bell is just pathetic, being so awkwardly clumsy that she can't even take two steps without falling all over herself. These acts are just excuses for Edward to be the Knight and Shining Armor while Bella spirals back into the depths where women were considered unworthy in the eyes of a man.

    Okay, okay, maybe I'm being a little harsh, but I'm just statting my honest opinion. Twilight was anything but a vampire novel and the romance was just simply pitiful. Not to mention that the plots in practially ALL of Meyer's novels are just spat up. A decent plotline wasn't brought up in Twilight until the last one-hundred pages or so and "vampires playing baseball only during a thunderstorm"? Oh, please.

    It's pretty clear that the fans of the Twilight series are those of adolescent girls, and their mom's. Although mother's have already experience the matter of sexual intercourse, Bella is not a role-model those of younger audiences should look up to. Yes, it's good that Edward encourages Bella to wait until they're married to have sexual intercourse. And how does our female protagonist act towards this? By marrying Edward the minute she finishes high school, throwing away all of her plans for college and a decent future just to please her sexual desires. I call this lust, not love and something that'll damage the youth of young girls everywhere, thinking that if you marry a man, no matter how old you are, its okay because then you'll be able to have sex.

    I'm sorry, but Twilight was everything but an amazing story. I ponder at what makes it so good in the eyes of the girls carrying them in their arms as I walk through the crowded hallways in school. Star-crossed lovers, a bestselling novel does not make. Girls will be happy with anything as long as the romance is either 'cute' or 'tear-jerkingly sad'. Although Twilight wasn't at all 'cute' is was DEFINATELY 'sad'.