HiH video review: Twilight

I love watching movies. I love writing movie reviews; that’s why I do it.

When it is a movie based on a book, I like to read the book also so I can do a comparison. But where do I start — what do I say — when the book is better than the movie (no surprise there) but feels itself like a watered-down version of other books I have read? Or when I am watching a movie at a drive-in theater with a double feature, and I like the second feature better than the one I came to review (and the second feature is Bolt?!!)

Such were my experiences with both the book and movie Twilight. My first thought during the movie was “How can this girl have grown up in America, old enough to remember Interview with the Vampire, and not recognize Edward and his family for what they are?” I suppose we must give Bella the benefit of the doubt — how often really do you expect to find vampires attending high school with you? Nevertheless, as much as we humans idolize vampires and their stories, I would think some of us would be delighted to discover a family of super-strong beautiful bloodsuckers at local high schools; it would be the first thing we would think of.

However, I will even give Bella’s oblivious nature a pass; I remember how it was to be a teen and not notice anything besides my own hormone imbalances. The sad thing is that when it comes to it, the most interesting thing in Twilight the movie to write about is the vampire baseball game. (Edward and his family have to wait until thunderstorms hit to play baseball, since the crack of bat and ball when wielded by vampires can be heard several counties away.) The effects were fun to watch in this scene, and the idea creative and funny. That was the best moment. Edward’s seesawing from cold to friendly to cold again got stale very quickly, and Bella was a Johnny-one-note. Not surprisingly, as soon as she believed Edward was a vampire (OK, the part about the racial enmity between the Native Americans/werewolves and the vampires was interesting), she wanted to become one herself. Not surprisingly, Edward refused to change her, thus providing a nice cliffhanger (together with the werewolf scenario) for the next film. However, as an Anne Rice fan of sorts, I found it hard to find any tension in a story about a family of vampires who control their impulses so completely. I am sure the director intended to have me on my seat, wondering when and if Edward (or Carlisle, or any of the others) would break, but I was really more wondering when I could get a refill on my Dr. Pepper.

Similarly, Bella’s voice in the book (it is in the first person) gripped me at the beginning but soon her thoughts’ continual reversion to Edward and how she feels about him and whether he is a vampire or not gets tiresome quickly. I found myself waiting for the action sequences at the end (the movie plot follows the book very closely) just to have something new to read. Thankfully, there was one way in which book-Bella was more interesting than movie-Bella; at very least, she was quicker on the uptake about Edward’s true nature.

Still, librarians and bookstore owners across the country will no doubt find their copies of Twilight and its sequels “flying” off the shelves, vampire-style, and movie theaters will find every seat filled, because teen girls (and the bored teen boys they drag in with them) will be lining up for more about Bella and Edward. Maybe I was wrong about Bella and her pop-culture savvy; maybe Twilight is the next generation’s Interview with the Vampire, just with more “bloodless” vampires and lots of teen angst.