Friday, December 19, 2008

Twlight (Hardwicke, 2008)

Going to watch the potential 'new Harry Potter'* on opening night was, perhaps, not the wisest choice. Lo and behold, there were the hordes of teenage girls, giggling and chattering beforehand. Fine, I'm all for getting excited before seeing a film for the first time, I do the same. The cheering when the film begins...mildly annoying in a public screening (personally), but fine, I can live with that. The incessant chattering for a lot of the rest of the film? Initially highly irritating.

However, this turned out to be beneficial, as it meant that I and my friend could get away with making our own commentary, so that we could actually be entertained while watching the film. Twlight is, alas, a little bit dull.

For the first hour or so (it may have been less than an hour - it certainly felt like an hour) the very boring Bella is established as our heroine, as is her instant attraction to the bizarre Edward Cullen. There is never much to pay attention to past the longing glances and terrible dialogue. I had to surpress my own giggling at several unintentionally funny points.

Once the film gets going, it improves, although it's still difficult to get past dialogue as wooden as the wirework. This is a shame, as the performers are all good enough, with Robert Pattinson, although not perfect, showing massive potential to be a very convincing and charming leading man in bigger and better films. There are very enjoyable secondary characters - Dr. Cullen and James spring to mind - and just enough excitement to keep things going (until everything following the climax, mind).

Hardwicke's direction is nicely done and not too distracting, although some aspects which may have worked in the book don't seem to come across so well on screen - the vampires' glistening skin, some of the vampiric enhanced abilities (like running up trees!).

It's easy to see why Twilight has such a large following. What was irritating on one level as a cinema go-er was interesting as someone who is a self-proclaimed fandomer. Seeing (well, hearing) the responses of people massively invested in what this film is based upon was fascinating as someone who has experience of the same, but no knowledge of the subject at hand. There's no doubting the film franchise will be as popular as the books, and probably introduce many more to them. However, personally, I find it quite difficult to see it as being particularly long-lasting beyond teenagedom**.

There's just about enough in Twlight to make me want to see its sequels - on DVD. And I can only hope that Bella becomes a far less needy, irritating and dull heroine by those films.

*This categorization irritates me - just because something has a pre-existing fandom doesn't mean it's the 'new Harry Potter'. Harry Potter is still on-going, it doesn't need a replacement, and new franchises sure as hell don't need to be burdened with comparisons to it. The Boy Who Lived is not the be-all and end-all of book-to-film fandom.

**This no doubt sounds ridiculous coming from a (slightly diminished) Harry Potter fan, but I'd actually love to hear how adult fans of the series define what it is that they enjoy, because I am quite clearly, ignorant in the ways of Twlight.