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Twilight Surprisingly Small in Scope

Published November 20, 2008 in Early Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Summit Entertainment
Twilight Quad PosterTwilight
I can say I enjoyed the process of watching Twilight. I knew it wasn't going to be for me, and it certainly didn't exceed expectations, but appreciating what a phenomenon it is, it amused me to see what the kids are into.

Twilight Review

It certainly embodies the melodrama that the Super Sweet 16 generation thinks are problems: being new at school, quiet brooding, gossip. There sure are a lot of introductions though. I already couldn’t remember everyone's name in act one.

The simplicity of the dialogue, with lines about mood swings giving her whiplash and her being his drug like heroin, fits this world, though it's just clever enough that you can't believe someone thought of it on the spot. Whiplash metaphors only come while staring at a Microsoft Word cursor.

They definitely play it straight. I didn't get any sense of self-aware melodrama, even when Kristen Stewart pauses directly in front of a fan to let her hair blow in slow motion. First of all, you got that move from my man Nic Cage. Second, if there was a wink to that, I missed it. They seemed to really believe this just happened to be where she stopped.

I could not take Peter Facinelli seriously for a second. The moment he appeared with his blonde frosted highlights and pale face makeup, I cracked up. If I were in an improv group, I'd be eliminated for ruining the scene. I couldn't even pretend to buy that.

I think Edward Cullen has Asperger's syndrome. His social awkwardness is more than just cultivating mystery. He wobbles, talks wrong and stares incessantly. Bella should totally go for Jacob instead, but then he could do way better with any of the townies.

The vampire moves aren't even any good. Stopping the car is cool, but then floating up trees and running up hills? The ideas are good, it's the execution that lacks. Edward looks lame ripping trees out of the ground and jumping around the forest like Tom Cruise on Oprah's couch. That's not even an outdated Tom Cruise joke. It's just the cultural reference point for lame jumping. They blur their fast moves on purpose, because they're supernatural to our vision, but it just looks ridiculous.

The baseball scene is wrong in so many ways. First, that an author thought this was a good way to explore vampires' power. Second, that a filmmaker put it on screen so earnestly. It's this weird mix of blatant Americana and cheesy melodrama with underlit outdoor scenes and bad visual effects.

For the epic themes, it's very small in scope. Everything takes place out in the woods with no one around or in some abandoned building. It's like the budget version where they couldn't afford extras or locations. I know it's a small town, but it makes it feel like it's not even a real world. It probably all comes from the book, but filmmakers have made way more mundane things look interesting so it's not too much to expect.

They brood real good though. Twilight may be the best staring movie since Legends of the Fall. It certainly wins on quantity. They introduce characters who do nothing but stare!

It's funny how I have not liked any movie called Twilight. There was that Paul Newman movie from 1998 where Reese Witherspoon gets naked, but that was a boring waste of actors. I guess that's not actually funny. It just sort of exists.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Summit Entertainment

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