Twilight: Does it really suck? Part 1
By Jordan Goodier
Let me first start off by saying I have nothing against Twilight, nor any of the people involved. Kristen Stewart, whilst hardly being my idea of a great actress, is pretty decent. She has the potential to be a great actress. Her performance in the film Snow White and the Huntsman could have been very good if the writing hadn’t been so appalling. Bad example. Her performance in the biopic, The Runaways, was very good. Kristen Stewart has the potential to be a great actress. Likewise, Robert Pattinson, I’ve actually enjoyed his performances in one or two other films he’s been in. A particular favorite of mine being the British indy film “How to Be”. His performance in that was great, I thought.
So I reiterate, I have nothing against the people that made this film and that is the reason I decided to review the entire Twilight saga. So instead of disliking Twilight for no reason, I could have a genuine reason to not like them. Another idea I had was to try and figure out what makes these films so popular. I thought I’d need a completely separate article to research and discover why, but I’ve discovered the answer is actually completely simple; but more on that later.
For those of you that don’t know what on earth I’m talking about, Twilight is a 2008 romantic fantasy film, based on a book by writer Stephenie Meyer. The film is directed by Catherine Hardwicke and is basically about a seventeen year old girl who moves to live with her dad for a while, due to her mum wanting to travel. She then discovers the existence of vampires and ends up falling in love with one.
Twilight is a bad film. Let’s get that out of the way. Overall, I did not enjoy watching this film. After watching it, I felt like I may actually have been a tad harsh on After Earth because, despite that film’s glaring flaws, I actually enjoyed watching it a little. I did not enjoy watching Twilight, for the most part. However, there were scenes which I thought were pretty good. I enjoyed watching about half of the film; perhaps less.
There are only two things, as far as I could tell, that let this film down. But these things are extremely vital to whether a film is good or not. Firstly, the acting; the performances of the two leads. Bella, as a character, was fine. If she was supposed to be young, naïve and a tad boring – then that’s fine, that’s the character. Kristen could have at least thrown in a little more emotional range though. Varied the pitch in her voice a little, or something! Most of the time, Bella was an extremely boring character to watch. Her use of facial expressions was, well… practically none existent. Now, I’ve had depression, like this character is supposed to have – but I’m pretty sure I still used a variety of facial expressions. Her overall performance was simply abysmal. To her credit though, there were a couple of scenes where I found her acting to be a little more engaging. I recall being shocked and almost delighted when she actually displayed emotion when being given her first car (it was an orange truck actually). The scene in which Bella first talks to Edward in the science lesson is also a scene in which I enjoyed both Kristen’s acting and Robert’s acting. Surely, if she can portray the character decently in some scenes, she can do it throughout?
Robert Pattinson’s performance was better than Kristen’s in my opinion, though still fairly bad overall, for the same reasons why Kristen’s performance failed to impress. Whilst we’re on the subject of the two leads and their performances, I’ve heard on multiple occasions Twilight fans say to me that (and I quote) “it wasn’t their fault, they were told to tone down their performances by the director”. There have been variations of this, people saying that Kristen was told to scale back her performance because Robert’s acting was poor, or others saying it was the other way around. I’d very much like to get to the bottom of this particular myth, and yes, I say myth because I can’t find any mention of it on any news sites. Not published articles state that this is the case. So if someone could tell me where on earth this mental rumor came from, I’d be much obliged. In any case, true or not, I couldn’t give a monkey’s uncle whose fault it was that the performances were so bad. They were bad, end of story.
The performances of the secondary cast were actually very decent for the most part. The acting of Bella’s friends, I found a little underwhelming, with some of the actor’s performances being a little wooden; but they didn’t feature too much in the film so it didn’t bother me. I particularly liked Bella’s parents, Charlie was a nice enough guy and he was portrayed pretty well by Billy Burke. Likewise, Jacob and his father were decent characters and were fun to watch, though I felt Jacob laughed too much? But that’s not a nitpick with his performance, maybe he’s just a happy fellow. The Cullen family were mostly decent, Carlisle being my favorite. His acting was very decent and I enjoyed the scenes with him in. I can’t say I’m a fan of Alice, though I didn’t see anything particularly wrong with her performance.
The directing in the film was average, nothing special, but I found the cinematography to be very good. Washington state looks like an incredibly lovely place, in all fairness (though it’s supposed to be dull). The first scene was a strong opening for the film I thought, with the montage of Bella travelling to Forks. The directing never moved above the “average” line in terms of directing and too often the film threw out scenes in which the directing was poor. The scene in which Edward appears in Bella’s bedroom is terrible. Bella doesn’t look like she’s sleeping, her arm is bent in a weird way and isn’t resting on the bed – so her arm is defying the laws of physics! Secondly, she’s supposed to be “dreaming” in this sequence, before she wakes up. She doesn’t look like she’s sleeping, she looks like she on the receiving end of… well, y’know; they tried to sex up this scene a bit too much, I felt.
There are more scenes that really should have been better. The scene in which Edward reveals he’s a vampire, is a bit underwhelming. Maybe they should have played it more for scares in that scene? The way in which the vampires “powers” are shown just looks cheap in some scenes, though this could simply be because of the low budget the film had. Also, the sequence in which Edward plays the piano for Bella seems completely unneeded and overly dramatic; what with the dramatic lighting used. The scene in which the antagonists are first seen is similarly overly dramatic and a bit cheesy. I get that walking in slow motion out of the mist looks cool, but was it necessary? Despite my dislike for these scenes and sequences, I felt that the climactic final scene in which the Cullin’s face off against the main antagonist, is very good. But then the hospital scene ruins things with Bella’s over reaction to Edward trying to justify keeping her safe by staying away from her.
Leading on from the point I just made, and finally getting to the second point of what makes this film so bad, the writing. The screen writer for this film, was Twilight’s undoing. The scenes themselves, the ideas for them and the sequence in which they happen are completely sound in theory. But Melissa Rosenberg chose dialogue in the majority of scenes, that made me cringe. Really cringe. The dialogue in most scenes, oozes of cheese. Wallace and Gromit would have a field day. The immortal exchange in the scene in which Edward reveals that’s he’s a vampire is laughable (and thus it was picked up by the internet and parodied a hundred times over). The dialogue at the end of this scene was also a particular highlight for me. “This isn’t real. This kinda stuff just doesn’t exist” – it’s only the top of a tree Bella, calm down. Also, a scene later “I like watching you sleep” – yes, alright, I get what the writer was trying to do. Edward can’t sleep and so finds it fascinating, got it. But write a better line explaining it. Because that just came off a creepy. I can’t say I liked any of Bella’s internal monologues either, but I suppose there was nothing wrong with them. However, the scene which annoyed me the most was the hospital scene at the end of the film; Bella’s reaction to Edward telling her that she may be better off without him? She completely over reacts. He’s only a guy, calm down, your life won’t be over if he leaves you. Now, one could argue that this reaction from a seventeen year old is actually very realistic; in which case I’d have to agree. Yes it is (in some cases, obviously not all). The scene simply annoyed me because Kristen accurately portrays a young naïve teenager’s reaction to her boyfriend telling her she’d perhaps be better off without him.
One final note, the last shot of the film, I felt was completely unnecessary. Victoria walks away in slow motion, an evil smile forming on her face? Absolutely fine, they did that in the previous shot. She pulls a clip out of the hair, waves it about a little and strikes a pose whilst continuing to walk in slow motion? What on earth is that all about?
Twilight is a mess, a giant stinking heap of one. But I don’t blame the supporting cast, their performances were fine and dandy and I really hope they’re given more screen time in the sequels to make them more bearable (I haven’t seen any of the sequels you see). I don’t blame the director entirely, there are only so many ways a director can mess up a film. The people to blame for Twilight are Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Melissa Rosenberg. Now again I must reiterate, I don’t believe that Robert or Kristen are bad actors. But they gave horrific performances in this film and I’d very much like to know why. Melissa Rosenberg is a different story. Outside the Twilight series, she’s been involved in a few shows as a writer and executive producer. Dexter is a well received show and has won many awards. Two writers from that show have also been nominated a few times for their work. Melissa is a writer on the show, but hasn’t been nominated for any awards. See? I’ve done my research on this, to try and discover whose fault it is that Twilight turned out so bad. At the moment, it appears to be because of Melissa’s horrific writing abilities.
And finally, my original task was to try and work out why Twilight is both so loved by the fans, and so hated by others. Why Twilight is so loved, it turns out, is actually a very easy to answer question. The series is aimed at romantics. So, the cheesy romance will have no effect on them, because they simply find it romantic. Which, well, it is. Twilight is loved fiercely because it’s fans love the love story. They are, for the most part, romantics who’d like to find their own Edward Cullen. “Why is Twilight so hated?” is a question I’ll attempt to solve as I delve further into the Twilight series – so you don’t have to.