There are certain things in the pop culture ‘verse that are so molded to one specific demographic that it is near impossible to grapple with them without being part of said demographic. The film, Twilight, happens to be one of those things. Everything about the film is catered to the angsty, ego-driven activities of the teenaged girl. The main character, Bella, displays the key elements of being relatable to teen girls across the world: she is awkward and clumsy, she is dismissive towards her parents, and she is filled with neurotic obsession towards the opposite sex. It is sad that these are the things, over sugar and spice and everything nice, that now make up the composition of a young lady. However, it is impossible to separate Twilight from our youth today; the film is completely indicative of who they are and visa versa.
Not much happens in Twilight. The movie begins with a cheesy voice-over about death from our protagonist, Bella (Kristin Stewart). The voice over permeates most of the film, and is basically the breathy pointless meanderings of a young girl. We find out, from Bella, that she has just moved to a tiny town called Forks in Washington. Director Catherine Hardwike spends a little time developing Bella’s character and then introduces her love interest, Edward (Robert Pattinson) the vampire. The two meet in Biology lab and then have terse interactions based on their unfulfilled mutual attraction. They then give into said attraction and become a couple. Aside from a tiny subplot about evil vampires, Bella and Edward’s sexual tension filled exchanges make up the entire film.
Twilight is so disorientingly pretty that it is difficult to sift through it to get to the heart of why the film is so mediocre. Regardless of whether or not you like it, it will suck you in and entertain your senses. The scenery is stunning; the beautiful Washington flora is almost like another character. The indoor scenes are shot with plenty of windows to let in the murky mood and greenery of rainy Washington. And then there are Bella and Edward, beautiful in a way that is not subtle at all. They wear matching lipstick to accentuate their matching pale complexions. The two make a perfect pair, and were, indeed, savvy casting choices. They both waft through the movie in sheer, willowy beauty, showing off the star wattage that is sure to take both actors extremely far in the movie business.
Unfortunately, there is nothing behind the opulent curtain. The structure of the film is built completely upon the foundations of the teen romance, which is a glaringly flat. The dialogue is all sweet nothings and no substance. Yes, Stewart and Pattinson have a clear chemistry, but their verbal encounters are pure shmaltz. The only alluring thing about the film is the subplot concerning the evil vampires. There is one cool scene, towards the end, in which Edward fights James (Cam Gigandet), one of the bad vampires. But, generally, there is not near enough “vampire” in this vampire movie. I would have liked to see Edward using some more of that super strength, and ability to jump from tree to tree to fight other vampires, rather than using it to seduce Bella. Of course, that might have blown the PG-13 rating.
The movie is bad, but not as bad as many of its haters might wish it was. It is empty, but that that is the most obvious thing about the film. And, most tweens/teens won’t even notice. There is some question as to how nourishing a meal this is for the minds of our youth, but they certainly could have a worse film to be obsessed with. There is no sex, violence, nudity or drug use (not even a little bit of cigarette smoking from the James Dean-esque male lead). This makes the film a bit dull for us on the other end of puberty, but just right for those in the midst of it. Twilight is certainly no where near one of the best films of 2008, but it isn’t the worst either.
There are plenty of special features on the Special Edition DVD of Twilight, the question is, are they really that special? The quantity is there, but is the quality? The first disc includes three music videos, five extended scenes with introductions by Hardwicke, and commentary on the film with Hardwicke, Stewart and Pattinson. The extra disc that one gets with the Special Edition DVD includes five deleted scenes, a seven part making of documentary, a look at Comi-Con, and a glimpse into clips and teasers that were played on the promotional circuit. In general, the bonus disc is pretty bogus and not worth the eight extra dollars.
The music videos are the least exciting of the special features. Two out of three are just live performances of the bands playing songs that were featured in the film. The one video that actually features images from the film is Paramore’s. The videos all feature an intro from Hardwicke, which is a nice signature that is threaded throughout the special features.
The extended scenes all have little intros from the exuberant Hardwicke. The scenes are just that, extended scenes. Most have, maximum, an extra minute added to them. Because they are not deleted scenes they don’t really give you any insight to what the film looked like at a rougher stage. There are a few stray lines that give away earlier versions of the film, but, overall, they fall right into place with the final product. The one cool extended scene is the “James, let’s not play with our food scene” in which the nomadic (aka bad) vampires take just a little bit longer to devour their meal of an older man. It is a more graphic scene that shows a bit more then PG-13 material. Although one is cool, the extended scenes are really only for the more hard core fans.
The audio commentary is by far the highlight of all of the special features. It features Hardwicke, Pattinson and Stewart all being themselves and messing around, just as you imagine they might have on the set. They poke fun at one another, flirt with one another and generally have a fantastic time, which is all extremely entertaining. Pattinson is every inch the jolly Englishman in real life, he is just a joy to listen to on the commentary; he makes jokes and even admits to crying on his last day of shooting! Stewart mainly remains a bit shy, but adds a few intelligent musings on the film that make her worthy of hanging around. Truly amusing commentary is rare, and this was just that and more.
Bonus discs are usually jam packed with special features, but I would say that this bonus disc is only partially packed with special features. There are five deleted scenes that are all extremely short. Each scene is really only an extra tidbit to build character. One of the scenes is technically an extended scene and should have been on the other disc. Generally, the scenes are about three lines of dialogue. It felt like Summit was really just exploiting every last inch of film that Hardwicke had recorded in order to make the most money off of the phenomenon.
The seven featurettes that are advertised as a “seven part documentary” really add up to a whole lot of the same. The documentary is broken down into time increments and some character focuses. It includes interviews from the cast, making of footage, and lots of information from Hardwicke and the writer behind the books, Stephanie Meyer. The less interesting sequences are the pre-production and post-production bits; watching someone in the editing room isn’t exactly thrilling cinema. The most interesting featurette would have to be the “Vampire Baseball” one, in which all of the stunts are revealed and we get to have interviews with some of the stunt people, which is always cool. I really did not get that much from the documentary, though. I did learn that they did not use one green screen, and that they actually had a lot more stunts than what it seemed. Hardwicke managed to weave the stunts into the film so that it was almost seamless, which is impressive. It seems that the movie is probably a lot more expensive than it looks.
“Comi-Con Phenomenon” is a tiny bit interesting, as we get to see the cast’s reaction to being transformed into a teeny-bopper’s dream. We get to see what it is like from the perspective of the actors, just before they walk out onto a stage just in front of 6,000 screaming fans, which is mildly entertaining. There is also a Q & A between the actors and the audience that is pretty cute, showing the young age of the actors.
Watching trailers after you have seen a film is always quite interesting. The producers of the film really seemed to be pushing the danger aspect of dating a vampire when putting out the teasers. The previews are extremely misleading and let one believe that the film is going to be an action one, rather than a romance. Yes, there is a touch of action just in the end, but that is really not the meat of the movie.