Twilight: Book vs. Movie

On my way back from San Francisco to Los Angeles, my flight was delayed for about three hours. My family had dropped me off at the airport almost two hours before my original flight was scheduled. I was stuck at SFO for about five hours. Naturally, I bought the book I’ve been curious about since I saw a special about the rabid fans of the upcoming movie: Twilight.

Prior to that small news segment, the camera panning across hundreds of fans lining up for the Twilight premiere, I had never even known the book existed, much less that a movie had been made. Where have I been that I missed such a massive…um…movement?

Two probable reasons:

1. Law school: I have lived in a bubble where the only books that existed had titles like Evidence, Property, Constitutional Law…you get the gist…and when I wasn’t reading those books, I was desperately trying to spend the rest of my other time unreading.

2. I Grew Up: I used to ravenously read those little tweenie books written by LJ Smith, Christopher Pike, RL Stine…yada, yada, yada. If I were fifteen (or eighteen, sigh) again, I would have been all over a book like Twilight…and the subsequent books that make up the entire saga.

So, that fateful flight-delayed-rainy-San Francisco day at the airport, I finally caved and bought the book.

I read through the first half of the book in the airport, pausing only to take a short nap at the Gate A11, and had the itch to watch the film. I thought to myself: Wow, this is some ambitious stuff. The emotions, the tension, and the sheer confused passion of the characters were so ambitious that I was really curious how they could translate it onto the screen.

So, BF–being awesome as he is–took me to watch the movie in one of the handful of theaters that still show it. I told him it was a cool vampire movie. Which is about a third-true.

I walked out of the movie mildly disappointed, but even more eager to read the rest of the book.  Let me tell you why…

THE MOVIE

My Qualms:

1. Edward is supposed to be insanely hot. Robert Pattinson…not so much.

Even when he was in Harry Potter, I always thought something was wrong with his face. Oh, man…I’m gonna be struck by lightning, aren’t I? Or somehow cursed by the hundreds of thousands of fangirls who drool over him. Sorry, but…he’s just this gangly squinty-eyed, crooked-faced guy who has a bird’s nest for hair. Granted, his hair was pretty darned nice in the movie–but that’s thanks to his stylist. So, even if Stephenie Meyer herself had picked him to be Edward, I would probably have casted someone like Orlando Bloom (yeah, yeah, but remember when he was the infallible –and somehow-never-dirty-while-everyone-else-was-sweaty-bloody-and-muddy–Legolas? Now that’s what I’m talking about when putting vision into visual), or James Franco would have fit the broody good looks type. So would Hayden Christensen (too bad he is now much too closely linked as Anakin Skywalker). My point is, I was disappointed with the casting decision for Edward. I’m sorry Pattinson, you’re just not my type.

2. Did someone say Chemistry? Really?

Because the book is written in first person, it is easier to imagine the tension between Bela and Edward as Bela describes it. It’s easier to imagine the rush of blood and heat when she describes how Edward’s breath barely caresses her skin. It doesn’t translate quite as well with doleful gazes into each other’s eyes. We can’t read their minds, and quite frankly the staring and the heavy breathing just became creepy.  There were also mannerisms, gestures, and acts (Edward’s often clenched fists, and mood swings, Bela’s clumsiness etc…) that are not very well explained in the movie.  They just seem to be little disjointed pieces of information that the moviegoers are supposed to just absorb and put into an ambiguous whole.

3. Overly Edwardian Writing

Wow, Stephenie Meyer is in love with Edward.  Seriously.  Do the readers even really know what Bella looks like?  What about Alice and Jasper?  Or Bella’s dad, or Mike Newton or any of the other people that existed in the book?  But we sure do know about Edward’s sculpted lips and the glowing tawny eyes, and the expanse of his muscular chest (and even the way his shirt stretched ever so nicely over said muscular chest).  I understand that the story is told from Bella’s point of view, and perhaps it is just a way of showing how utterly absorbed she is with Edward… Or maybe Stephenie Meyer was just in love with Edward.  *Shrug.

In any case, after watching the movie and then reading the second half of the book, it was good to be able to place a face on Emmett, Alice, Dr. Cullen, Rosalie, and Chief Swan…and all the other characters in the movie.  Thank gawd for the film, because I kept skimming and returning to the scant pages where Meyer describes certain people, and can barely get a grasp of their character and characteristics.

4. Lights, Camera, um…Action?

The book had zero action.  Bella got knocked out.  She wakes up in the hospital.

Good thing the movie filled in some of that fun James-ripping action.  Unfortunately, Pattinson isn’t the best at action scenes.  He isn’t even really all that graceful being a vampire.  He only comes off as somewhat awkward…like that guy who is tough, but has never really been in a real fight, so he just throws punches and takes hits and hopes to god that he stays standing.  Luckily, special effects save the day.

However, despite my misgivings about the movie and the writing, I will still read the rest of the books and watch the movies.  Why?  Just cuz I want to see how everything pans out.

Twilight will never reach the literary and storytelling magnitude as Harry Potter, but it’s still a fun ride, and readers will always want to know whether there really is a “happily ever after…” even for the most unlikely of couples.

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1 Comment

  1. WOW I love your article and the way you describe every detail —>way better then mine xD check out my blog =)

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