This Film is NOT a Future Release.
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May 12th, 2008:
A teenage girl risks everything when she falls in love with a vampire. Based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer.What to Expect:
Prior to 2005, Stephenie Meyer was just an average mother of three living in Arizona. All of that changed when one day she had a dream about a romantic encounter between a young girl and a very handsome vampire. That dream quickly turned into her first book: Twilight. The novel, published in 2005, quickly found a large following among teenage girls, selling millions of copies. Three years later, after two more books in the series under her belt and the first movie adaptation on the way this summer, Meyer's anonymity is a long memory. After spending a total of 124 weeks on the New York Times bestseller's list with her three novels, the upcoming movie looks to be just as successful. The trailer alone is on pace to be the most viewed trailer of all time. The popular media has also taken notice, with some labeling her the "American JK Rowlings" which might be a little bit of a stretch. I say this not because I think Meyer is inferior to Rowling in terms of writing or storytelling, but because Meyer's story does not really appeal to as large of an audience as Harry Potter. Where Potter is meant for kids of all ages and sexes, Meyer's story is a love story from the point of view of a seventeen year old girl, which automatically alienates younger kids and males. The studio and director making the movie could have taken the story and spiced it up with more action and pushed the love story into the background, but they realized that the book had enough loyal fans, so they kept the film's plot very close to the book. As a result, Twilight should definitely make its hundred million plus at the box office, but it is still no Harry Potter. More importantly, it will sit very well with all the teenage girls who have fallen in love with the characters over these last three years. Article continues below
Meyer's book is essentially a High School love story with a supernatural backdrop. It centers around a seventeen year old girl named Isabella, Bella for short, and the entire story is told in first person from her perspective. Bella lives an extremely unremarkable life, she is very shy, bordering on anti-social, clumsy and accident-prone and generally keeps to herself. Then one day her life changes when her mother, Renee, gets remarried to a minor league baseball player forcing her to go on the road with him. Consequently, Bella has to leave her home in Phoenix and go live with her dad in an uncommonly rainy small town in Washington, called Forks. The small town familiarity is not very conducive to Bella's preferred anonymity and she quickly makes friends and several boys even ask her out, but she turns them down. The town has one mysterious family, the Cullens, who stand out like a sore thumb in this small community. The parents are remarkably young and have five adopted children: Edward, Rosalie, Emmett, Alice and Jasper. All the children are amazingly attractive, better dressed and seem to always keep to themselves. Bella immediately begins to feel a lot of tension with Edward but does not know why. One day a car loses control in the parking lot and is about to hit Bella when almost supernaturally Edward saves her by literally stopping it dead in its tracks, and now Bella begins to suspect that there is something special about Edward. Their relationship begins to blossom and Bella's curiosity begins to evolve from crush to love to obsession. She soon learns that Edward and his family are a lot more different than she had ever suspected. She learns that they are actually an ancient covenant of vampires who have rejected their instinct to hunt humans and instead hunt animals, and the reason that there was so much tension with Edward in the beginning was because she smelled so appetizing. The vampires possess many powers, including super speed, strength, not aging (Dr. Cullen is over three hundred years old while Edward is a 107), not needing oxygen (they breathe out of habit and to enjoy smells) or sleep and of course exceptional beauty to attract their pray. In addition to these shared powers, they also have their own individual talents which are usually things they had as humans but have been exponentially strengthened upon their transformation. Edward for example can read people's minds (for some reason he cannot read Bella's), while Alice can see the future and Emmett has exceptional strength even for a vampire. These vampires also do not have any of the standard weaknesses normally associated with vampires like sunlight (they actually just glow in the sun), holy water or crosses (they even have a huge cross in their house); in fact the only way to kill them is to completely destroy them.
Bella does not mind this huge issue, because she loves Edward so much. Their relationship continues to blossom until a complication arises in the form of the arrival of another coven. This coven is lead by a tracker vampire named James, who is also enticed by Bella's "mouth watering" smell and is even more intrigued when the Cullens defend her. It turns out that James is a super-hunter who lives for the challenge of the hunt this particular challenge seems extra-interesting since a powerful coven stands in his way. The Cullens try to protect Bella from James, but James sets a perfect trap by using her mother as bait.
I am not going to spoil the movie or the book for you anymore, but like all high school love stories, this one will end at the prom. However, unlike most of the high school love stories this one actually has some depth. Throughout the narrative, Meyer constantly examines the ideas of forbidden love and constantly questions what it is that makes us human. She concludes that it is not breathing, eating, sleeping or even dying that defines us, but our ability to feel, love and our capacity to do good. She is able to deliver this very thought-provoking message without ever dipping into impropriety between the characters, which is extremely commendable in today's sex-craved pop culture. However, there is one negative theme as well: The idea that this much older guy (over 100) is masquerading as a seventeen year old and dating high school girls. He is obviously much more mature and sophisticated than the other guys around and uses this to seduce Bella. I know I am being a little knit picky, but if my seventeen year old daughter started dating a thirty year old who looked like he was seventeen then I would be just as worried, and this book is kind of saying that it is ok. I know that this is obviously not the books' intent, but I thought it was worth stating.
As I mentioned earlier, this movie is going to stay very close to the original work, but that could have been very different. Had a large studio owned the rights to the books then perhaps they would have sexed up the story or added tons of action. Fortunately a small studio, Summit Entertainment, bought the rights after Paramount allowed their option to expire. Summit decided to make a movie that would pay homage to the book which presented a few large challenges. First, the book is a first person narrative from a girl's perspective which allows the reader to see inside Bella's head and understand her emotions fully, which is not so easy to do in a movie. The second challenge is the fact that the book is loaded with imagery. Everything is described in great detail causing a certain and often different aesthetic to be created in the reader's head. Now the movie has to create those images and make sure that they live up to expectation which is no easy task. Finally, each of the characters is developed in great detail and the casting would have to be done in order to fit those descriptions.
Fortunately, Summit found the right woman for the job in director, Catherine Hardwicke
who is known in Hollywood for making movies about teenagers. She burst onto the scene with her first movie called Thirteen, which coincidentally is a movie about a teenage girl and is told from her point of view. However, before Hardwicke started directing she had a long career as a set and costume designer. That experience was used well in the making of Twilight. She worked with Stephenie Meyer who was present on the set for much of the filming to bring the world of Twilight to life. She generally stuck very close to Meyer's original descriptions but also jumped in to add her own personal touches where applicable. One such place was the dress of vampires. Meyer in her book simply described their outfits as "having designer origins." Hardwicke expanded on that idea and decided that they would always wear form fitting clothes to draw attention to their beauty and a lot of white and light gray to give them an angelic look. Another area where Hardwicke improvised was the Cullen's house. In the book Meyer spent a lot of time describing particular rooms of the house, but not the house as a whole. Hardwicke decided to build an extremely unique structure that is part tree house, part mansion. Hardwicke also expanded on the final battle scene between James and the Cullens. If you remember, in the book we know very little of what happened since Bella was unconscious. The director decided to make it the one big action scene of the movie adding a lot of special effects, explosions, fire, etc. This was done to try to appeal to a broader audience, but this is a chick flick and a few minutes of low budget action really is not going to change anything. Finally, the movie allegedly has a new scene at the Marina that is not in the book. What happens there has been kept under tight wraps so we will have to wait to see, but I am sure it will be super romantic just like the rest of the movie.
The director is obviously very important and it looks like Twilight is in good hands, but the toughest part of this production had to be the casting, especially with the small budget. The first and probably the toughest was the part of Edward, because anytime he was mentioned in the book, it was always in conjunction with a bunch of adjectives describing how attractive he was, as if we have somehow forgotten. Hardwicke, knowing she had to find someone extremely hot, decided to go with British model Robert Thomas Pattinson
, who has so far had an unimpressive career with his biggest part being Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter. To make matters worse, he did not even know what Twilight was when he signed up for it; he just thought it was the coolest of the five scripts presented. Meyer met with him on several occasions to explain the character in great detail and even let him read her new book, Midnight Sun, which is written from Edward's perspective. The new book demonstrates Edward in a new light, revealing the self loathing side of Edward's personality which is the way he is going to be played by Pattinson. Joining Pattinson will be Kristen Stewart
(The Messengers) as Bella. Stewart is definitely a rising star, but she seems a little too pretty to be Bella. I have always imagined Bella to be very pale and a little plump, while Stewart seems to have more of an athletic build. Despite the physical differences, she should do a good job.In Conclusion:
Fans should be very pleased with the movie. It definitely stays very close to the original work, paying homage to the novel instead of trying to reinvent it. However, I really want to point out that despite the supernatural aspect of the story, this is nothing more than a chick flick. This is about vampires as much as Titanic is about a sinking ship. If you are a teenage girl, then this movie is perfect for you; it is a good, safe, summer love story. However, if you are a guy, there is absolutely no reason why you should go see this movie, unless you are on a date.Similar Titles: Titanic
, Lost Boys