The Writer’s Perspective : Weeksy Recommends…

Weeksy here,

So oodles of people are asking me at the moment ‘What’s a good movie to see?’. I think about it for a second (wondering whether to respond with the atypical “Oh, you so have to see Slumdog Millionaire. Or, if you miss Frost/Nixon you’ll be dead by April”) and then unashamedly respond “Twilight”.

Yes, “Twilight”.

Will never win an Award (OK, maybe an MTV Movie Award) – but boy does it entertain.

Oh, and yes, I’m a guy.

Are there more out there like me? Blokes with a crush on Bella and Bloodsuckers? Of course there is! They’re just afraid to admit it for fear of losing their place on the Indoor Cricket Team This Year.

OK, so I’ve followed the early & post US reviews of “Twilight” pretty closely, mainly because I’m an enormous fan of the series of books by Stephenie Meyer, but also because of the incredible venom that some reviewers seemed to be spewing at it (mind you, this was more so they could promote another “vampire” film, rather than basing “Twilight” on its own merits).

So – as a fan, and as someone who can also appreciate a good flick, I’m happy to say that “Twilight” is a very faithful conversion of the first novel, and it hits everything right on the nail – well, almost everything.

The story is about Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) who moves to the eternally dark & stormy town of Forks to live with her father, Charlie (Billy Burke), the local good guy Cop. It doesn’t take long for the boys to notice the new girl at school, but Bella quickly zeroes in on Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), a guy who for all intents & purposes appears to be repulsed by Bella, but as she quickly comes to understand, Edward isn’t an ordinary guy, isn’t so much repulsed as he is insanely “attracted” to her, and in his own words, has been 17 years old for quite a long time….

So – Vampires it is (duh!) – Edward and his “family”, Alice (Ashley Greene), Rosalie (Nikki Reed), Jasper (Jackson Rathbone), Emmet (Kellan Lutz), and parents Carlisle (Peter Facinelli) & Esme (Elizabeth Reaser). As the relationship between Bella & Edward grows, it becomes apparent that his family aren’t regular Vampires, the Cullen clan are self-described Vegetarians, in that they only feed on animals –but when some of the local townspeople are found murdered, the main players discover that there are more Vamps in town than they first thought, which are far deadlier than they are, and once they get the scent of Bella- nothing will stop them from hunting her down.

As far as a direct translation of the book, Catherine Hardwick & screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg have done a great job – the key scenes are all there, the memorable dialogue exchanges from the novel – all accounted for, along with a few additional scenes that don’t work quite as well as you would hope, but still “fit” in the grand scheme of things. It definitely sounded like the audience were fans of the series as well, as key moments from the book were greeted with alternately laughter and “Awwwwww!”’s as they played out.

Certainly, the fact that Stewart & Pattinson have incredible chemistry together onscreen doesn’t hurt the transition any, but while I’m talking cast – I don’t think I could have picked a better set of actors than Ashley Greene as Alice, and Jackson Rathbone as Jasper to represent the (extremely detailed) descriptions from the book – just perfect. But again, and to probably go a little off track here: When I first read “Twilight” it was one of those sweeping Romance books that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and I told most people that the fact Edward is a Vampire is so secondary to the majority of the book, that it’s almost just a metaphor for wild hormones, but the key to the story was that “Romeo & Juliet” style forbidden love that would crash and burn on the big screen without the right cast – so again, Stewart & Pattinson carry the movie for the first 90 minutes of what is essentially a Romance film – and then takes a turn towards thriller for the last _ hour with the introduction of the “other” vampires.

As for others in the cast – I mean, I’ve singled out Greene & Rathbone, but the Cullen & Hale members are all superbly cast – Peter Facinelli in particular is an actor that I’ve liked since “Can’t Hardly Wait” right through to his run in “Damages”, and he (for me at least) was probably the most “iffy” pick for Carlisle, but he handles the role with great maturity – Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black doesn’t have a great deal to do (he is more prominent in the following books), but seems to fit the part well, Billy Burke as Charlie is also good in the part – and last, but not least – Cam Gigandet, probably best known for his turn in “The O.C.” inhabits the role of James the “Tracker” with just the right amount of nasty.

So – that’s the good out of the way – here’s the bad: I’ve heard quite a few rumours of why Catherine Hardwick is not involved with the next film – there has been stories that the studio did not feel she would be able to handle the intensive action sequences of the second story; that she walked due to unrealistic schedules; that she was a nightmare on set; that the Author had threatened to pull her support from the follow-ups – like I said, all sorts of rumours.

Of those, the one I would be inclined to believe is the limited ability on Action, but let me state again for the record – 99% of “Twilight” as a movie is nailed and on that case, Hardwick has done a fantastic job, without the chemistry and mood between the leads, “Twilight” would have failed miserably – However, the 1% action that is required is fairly dodgy, so I can understand some hesitation given certain sequences that take place in “New Moon”. When I talk about dodgy in “Twilight”, I mean “South Park” quality VFX – in fact, the scenes with Edward displaying his various abilities to Bella could be some of the worst effects I’ve seen in a long time, and unfortunately (and quite jarringly) it tends to appear quite comical – but then, for some unexplained reason, the finale of the film, which is quite action packed, looks fantastic – but isn’t enough to redeem those earlier moments.

That being said (and believe me, it’s a very minor criticism), I have no hesitation in recommending “Twilight” to fans of the books, Romance fans, and even Vampire movie fans – there’s a little bit of each in there for the casual viewer, but I think it’s the fans that will get the most out of it, and judging by the crowd at the screening I attended– there’s quite a few Twilighters out there.

“Twilight” – Weeksy’s recommendation of the Silly Season.