Catherine Hardwicke no doubt set out to make a gritty drama of teen angst set against the backdrop of the dreary Pacific Northwest, but a few weeks prior to shooting, a producer must have handed her a script for “Twilight” and said make this instead. The first screen adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s bestselling romanticÂ vampireÂ series isÂ likeÂ a cheap wine looking for a bottle, which is really a shame because I would surely lap it up if only served properly. Targeted at teenage girls, it would seem my age and gender preclude me from this discussion, however I believe that young women are yearning for much more from their heroines, so let’s get started with the nit pickiness.
In the Myers lore of the vamp, these immortal creatures can survive during the day, but they must stay away from sunlight or their skin becomes a Swarovski bling-fest, outing their identities. The author cleverly places the story in cloud covered Washington State, allowing our anti-heroes to lead somewhat normal lives. Hardwicke and co. opted to really roll with the whole constantly cloudy thing and make the entire film look washed out and blue, which somehow seemed like an afterthought. The blacks were often milky, as though a Flame artist was constantly having tweaks phoned in through the night. (Don’t mess with a reviewer who dabbles in color correction). I’ll hand it to them for trying something different, but the execution never meets the concept.
From the colors we can move to the camera movement, which literally all over the map. Sometimes handheld, sometimes smooth, but always unmotivated, Director of Photography Elliot Davis seemed to be getting as much covereage of the least important moments as possible on a shoestring budget (a mere $37 million, emphasis on mere). Case in point is the wooded reveal of Edward’s true identity (“Say it”) in which we are taken to odd corners of the forest for confusing reasons. The scene is heavy and could have easily achieved the needed gravity without the darty hoopla behind the camera, but it’s just one of many opportunities missed in this film. And don’t think you’re getting off so easily, Nancy Richardson and your crack editorial team, this steaming pile is every bit your fault too.
Melissa Rosenberg, you should take up whittling instead of screenwriting; your ability to deal in wood will come in handy. The leads in the film truly gave their all, but were given so little to work with, leaving them finishing off uninteresting dialogue with giggles and stares, trying to make something out of nothing. Teenagers really are more interesting than that, I promise.
And then there is the issue of special effects, none of which were all too special. In general, any running, jumping, or other neato vampire tricks performed onscreen were reminiscient of an elemetary school production of Peter Pan. There are good ways to use special effects and there are bad ones. While everyone gets an E for effort in the trying to stretch that $37 million to make something magical, the F/X team really couldn’t get anything useful done on this.Â Even the music of Carter Burwell, who I love, was hackneyed and repetitive. I’mÂ convincedÂ he dusted off some of his compositions for Being John Malkovich and handed them in for this film.
Look, in the end, the joke is on all of us. Ms. Hardwicke was asked to do one thing and that is make something out of nothing (I’m talking about profits here), and she did exactly that. Little girls may swoon overÂ TwilightÂ whilst their BFs and parents groan, but they all paid to sit down and passÂ judgment. With the sequel already planned for Winter 2009/2010, looks like the almighty cha-ching won out this time.