Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Now, I've been a bit pessimistic about this movie... actually, that's not true. Being pessimistic would mean I feel strongly about it and I don't. The whole TWILIGHT craze has passed me by. I'm open for the movie working, but nothing I've seen so far has really struck me as being impressive. At this point if it's just not THE COVENANT with vampires and Kristen Stewart, the movie will be a big surprise for me. What we have below is a review from a reader calling herself Saffron Starlet, a fan of the books who got to see the movie early. And it's a positive review. I'm really curious to hear reviews from all over the map. I usually don't put my interest in early reviews, but I really do want to hear what non-fans think of this film before I see it (as it looks like I won't be able to sneak into a press screening). But here's one of the first looks we've gotten on the film! Beware of spoilers and enjoy!
What do screaming girls, blood, proms and pale skin all have in common? That would have to be the new vampire flick “Twilight.” While it hits theatres in a matter of days, a quick sneak peek tonight invited many of us to enter into the world a little early. As a fan of the books (yes, I’ve read all four and did so in less than a week. I know, I have no life), I knew that a lot would have to go to make the movie short enough to fit into a teenager’s attention span. On that, I believe the writers, directors and other staff of the film succeeded. There were some problems with pacing, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Oh, and just to warn you, I’m liberal on spoilers, so fans and non-fans alike: BEWARE. Firstly, the casting department did their duty in finding people who captured the essence of the characters, if not the exact look every person who read the books concocted in their own minds. Kristen Stewart reads like a dream. Her inflections during narration and voice over never come off as though she’s reading a script. Rather, you feel like the confession flows off of her lips before she can properly retrieve and destroy it. In the role of Bella, she asserts more confidence than one might read in the book, and a little less of the vulnerability one might expect, but the balance is basically achieved. When pushed to the brink in moments of despair, she delivers. Her unfinished, jagged sentences never seem planned, never seem rehearsed. After viewing interviews with the teenager, I was not sure what to expect out of her as an actress, but she shines. Robert Pattinson. I cannot say enough about how much I loved in his performance. At the conclusion of the film, the moments that stuck out most in my mind involved him and variances between the film and book that only he could carry off. Most notably, Pattinson accurately captured the disgust Edward feels for himself, not just for what he is, but what that could do to the only person he’s ever loved so intensely. The simultaneous drive to protect and destroy his beloved reads across Pattinson’s face with such intensity that I felt tempted to cry several times. One of the most notable scenes was one of the shortest, but his face sold it. As Bella lays against his chest, caught up in sleep, completely at ease, he stares at her, his face filled with trepidation; as though this moment simultaneously captures his greatest fears and greatest joys all at once. He’s unable to enjoy the moment because of the fear he holds at his own lack of control, and Pattinson sells this so beautifully. I could go on and on about what he did with this role, and how he took it places I thought it never could go, but I’ll say just one more and then hang up the towel on the Brit-love for the time being. The scene when he starts to unravel, when he’s begging his family to help, even the ever-off-putting Rosalie, I couldn’t stop watching him. Edward of the book never seemed so breakable, at least not in the first book, and yet I thought it made perfect sense for him to be at his most vulnerable when someone else threatens his love because of his own perceived selfishness. Pattinson takes Edward to the brink without pushing him over, and the moment remains one of my favorites from the film. Among the Cullen family, Peter Facinelli as Dr. Carlisle Cullen stole the show, but that may be because the rest of the family felt horribly underused. Facinelli gave Dr. Carlisle a degree of control and authority over the rest of the family despite their lack of a significant age difference. Never once did I doubt Carlisle’s hundreds of years of history and life experience. One of the most understated, and probably will be underrated, performances in the movie was Billy Burke as Bella’s father, Charlie. The level of discomfort he felt talking with his daughter about boys, about their lives together, about almost anything was sold to a note-perfect degree. Silly moments, such as playing an almost imaginary game of tag with his friend in a wheelchair, never seemed phony, and the more heart-wrenching moments, such as watching his daughter walk out on him, always felt organic and real. It would have been easy for any other actor to break down and oversell the pain in that scene, but Burke’s face and eyes sold it without pulling him out of the character of Charlie that we know from the books. I do hope critics do not ignore his performance, because his balance of “normal” helps us better appreciate the fantastical world of the Cullens. The school chums were all well cast, as were the Cullens, but as said previously, I feel like I did not see enough of them to comment too much on their performances and characters. Jackson Rathbone radiates off the screen with his quiet presence, and Ashley Greene’s Alice was appropriately sweet and mischievous. Kellan Lutz as Emmet probably had the least to do besides Elizabeth Reaser’s Esme. They both had maybe ten lines the entire movie, and that is one of the weaknesses for me. Nikki Reed as Rosalie did have a few very nice moments, one of them being towards the end of the movie, and a favorite for me. The baddies did a fairly good job with what they were given. Rachelle Lefevre came off appropriately sexy and creepy at once, while Edi Gathegi did well with the small part of Laurent. Cam Gigandet really sold James for me. My version in the book was nearly as malicious as his on-screen interpretation, so I walked away satisfied. There’s not a lot to say about Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black, but I know someone would stone me if I failed to mention him. He did not have a lot to do in this film, but I think that he is more than prepared for what he needs to do in the next one. That is to say, I felt the potential in him to shine, the same way I did when first I spotted a young Robert Pattinson as Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter. There was a lot to break down with the book to try and condense it for film, so when I noted several scenes in the book condensed to one in the film, or scenes missing altogether, I was not surprised. I tend to enjoy a book better than its movie adaptation, but there are exceptions (Princess Bride being among them). I went into the film trying to keep an open mind, and most of the time I think they made exactly the right choice on what to keep and what to leave behind. A lot of the back-story with Bella and her school chums fell to the wayside, as did a lot of her first day of school, which takes up a significant amount of time in the book. Similarly, a lot of Bella and Edwards first moments as a couple disappeared. Among the casualties are lunch table conversations, a million and one questions, before-gym-class face stroking, Edward taking time away from her to get strong before the Meadow Scene, Tyler trying to ask Bella to prom, Edward and Bella’s discomfort in the dark in Biology, and so much more. I have to say, I didn’t really miss much of it. It seemed like the right stuff to go went. My problem was with the pacing of the first half of the film. In a book, or even in a television series, there’s more opportunity for breaks and to skip and flit around. In a book, you end a chapter. In a TV series, you go to commercial. In a movie, though, that principal does not always work as well, and at times I could barely tell if it was supposed to be a different day, the same day, or a flashback. The only thing that gave me a clue was the clothing in the scene to let me know if it was “later that day” or another day entirely. However, I know some footage lays on the cutting room floor, someday destined for the DVD release, and I cannot fully judge the layout of that first half until I know what had to be cut. I also believe there may be some missing Cullen family scenes in that cut footage, but I guess I’ll have to wait until the DVD comes out to find my answer. Once the film reaches its groove, once the teen and immortal determine this is their path, the movie moves swiftly from one thing to the next. I feel like the beginning had to be condensed so there would be enough freedom in the second half of the movie to include as much as possible and to keep it as put together as possible. Everything from the baseball scene, to the scene at Bella’s home where she declares she’s leaving, to the prom scene at the end resonated perfectly, and I found myself thinking “What a cool pace we’re at now” as soon as all that started moving. Most of the iconic, fan-adored lines from the book find a way into the movie, even if in ways you did not expect. Many key moments that book fans cling to shine, but there are also a few added scenes and lines that add so much to the movie. That’s not to say anything detrimental about the books at all, but only to say that I think the writers handled that aspect of the medium change with ease. One of the biggest changes comes toward the end of the flick, and I don’t want to completely ruin everything for those going in blind, but it’s a Cullen family moment, and it’s completely contrary to the book, and I don’t care. There is another big change from the book to the movie that happens in the last ten minutes. Again, I don’t want to spoil you all too much, but the way Pattinson played it, and the way they edited it together was magic. It was torturous, and added so much more agony to Edward and to the relationship, but it resonated with me even more than that section in the book ever did, and I thank whoever came up with that one major change. It enriches the characters so much, and I think it gave Pattinson even more to work with in those final moments of the movie. I do wish we got to see more of the Cullen family in this one based on my knowledge of the future books. I feel like we needed a little more setup on how they relate to one another and to Bella. The one or two scenes we had never felt like enough for me when I thought about it in context of the series, but for the one movie, for someone not familiar with the books, it works. There is only one thing in the movie that really bothered me actively. One thing. I know, after all the adulation I’ve laid out, you’ve been waiting for me to have a major issue. Well, here it is: Bella’s Lullaby. In the book, that is such a huge iconic thing for him to hum it to her, for him to play it for her, because it so greatly contrasts the other song he played for her that he wrote. The Lullaby symbolizes such a drastic change in him and in his heart. In the book, Esme goes on about how Bella changed Edward, about how she was worried he would never find someone, and that lullaby is an actual representation of the change. It’s unlike the other song he plays for Bella because it’s inspired by her bringing out the humanity in him. We do hear the song in the movie and see him play it for her, but I think it was under-utilized. It needed more explanation because music is such a big part of the next book, and I would have hoped they would give it a little more care. Again, there could be a deleted scene somewhere out there contradicting everything I’ve said, so I’m trying to keep my heart and mind open. I would like to advise book fans to go in with an open mind and remember that movie adaptations are never exactly the same as the book due to time constraints. There are some differences, there are some different scenes, there are some different lines. None of it should be perceived as bad until you allow yourself the full experience of the film. I want to see it again so I can really soak it up and stop thinking, “Ok, they cut that. They added that. Oh, what’s that!?” If I were not a Twilight fan, though, I would still have enjoyed this movie. It’s fun and romantic and even a little dark and twisted, which makes it even sweeter. -Saffron Starlet