Toothless and tasteless – Twilight review

Twilight – Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Nikki Reed. Directed by Catherine Hardwicke. Rated M for supernatural themes and violence. 121 mins.

Vampires are sexy, or so I’m told. Women seem to find the idea of blood sucking and capes pretty erotic. So I was kind of surprised to see how ‘anti-sex’ Christine Hardwicke’s vampire flick Twilight was. Let’s look at the basic storyline – a brooding teenage vampire is so obsessed with the intoxicating scent of a young girl, he’s worried he could lose control and tear her apart. If this film is about anything other than abstinence, I will eat my shoe. While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it makes for a cripplingly boring film. The vampires are kindhearted and ultimately toothless. The conflict is limited and easily solvable. The teens don’t need to have sex, they can just talk all night long. Twilight is an impotent failure.

When 17-year-old Bella Swan (Stewart) moves to the small town of Forks, Washington, all she wants to do is stay low and out of anyone’s way. She hates her new school, which is weird, because she’s befriended almost instantly by a really nice group of teenagers. She wishes she could move back to Phoenix, which makes no sense, because her corpse-like complexion would melt in the Arizona sun. Then she falls in love with local boy Edward Cullen (Pattinson), a mysterious, chalk-coloured hunk who can’t stand being around her.

It turns out Edward is a vampire, but Bella loves him anyway. After all, he is really hot. He warns her that he could tear her apart at any minute. He says he could rip her to shreds and drink her blood without breaking a sweat. She doesn’t budge. Like I said, he’s a hottie. So there’s the conflict. Edward is infatuated with Bella, whose scent is the most delicious he’s ever smelt. Bella is madly in love with Edward, because he looks at her like she’s a piece of steak, and in the sunshine his skin is glittery. Maybe it’s a convincing love story if you’ve never actually been in love before. I guess this is why teenage girls are eating this film up.

I assume these characters have more depth in Stephanie Meyer’s wildly successful book on which the film is based. Their relationship in the film is just plain creepy. Edward sneaks into her room and watches her sleep on several occasions, he stalks her without her knowing, and then he tells her to stay away from him, because he fears his compulsion to kill her will become too great. And then Bella says stuff to Edward like “I’d rather die than to stay away from you” and “I dream about being with you forever”. Yikes. This is how domestic abuse starts.

I am desperately racking my brain to think of positive things to say about this film. Hardwicke (whose first film, Thirteen, captured teenagers much more accurately) keeps the action in first gear with her plodding, lifeless direction. She seems to desperately want to minimise the amount of conflict in the film, and keep things squarely on Bella and Edward’s endless love. A subplot involving some rival, murderous vampires feels awkwardly tacked on. The dialogue is ridiculous. The acting, virtually unbearable. Robert Pattinson’s hair is working much harder than Pattinson himself. The special effects, a joke. Speeding up film doesn’t make it look like people are running fast. I learnt that in Year 10 Media.

The success of this film boggles my mind. It has grossed upwards of $150 million in the U.S already, and if last night’s packed cinema was anything to go by, it’s likely to be huge in Australia as well. A quick inquiry of the people around me revealed a lot of young ladies had dragged their boyfriends along (my own dragged-along girlfriend fell asleep about forty minutes in). I overheard a couple girls on the way out talking about wanting to see the film again. That sounds like hell to me.

It’s clear that teenage girls are loving it. Part of me however wants to argue that this film is actually dangerous for young girls to see (it’s the biggest glorification of an abusive relationship I’ve ever seen in cinema). But the rest of me just thinks, “whatever”. There’s nothing quite like seeing your favourite book on the big screen (my own excitement for Watchmen has been well documented) and I don’t want to take that away from Twilight fans. Everyone else, you’ve been warned.


Check out the trailer here.

20 Responses to “Toothless and tasteless – Twilight review”

  1. the book does go into their relationship more than the movie. Edward is very over protective, when a vampire (in these books) falls in love it is a profound and unchangeable thing and Bella has a string of near death experiences making Edward even more protective….he has waited 90 years for her after all. i have a few friends who have not read the book who hated it… but those who have read the books loved it (including me) and the hair is a style to somewhat keep near to the style of the early 1900’s Edward’s human time.

  2. THIS REVIEW IS AMAZING. A+.and no, unfortunately, the characters are EVEN MORE two-dimensional in the books if that is possible.and to the last commenter. um. haha. robert pattinson has not washed his hair in years. that is why it looks like that.

  3. fair enough – i figured there had to be some substantial quality to the books for them to be so successful. but the film definitely didn’t convey those themes.but sorry, the hair is ridiculous no matter the context.

  4. I haven’t seen the film, but had a disagreement with my 14 year old because I would not let her see it (all her friends are allowed). Can anyone explain why movies rated M, with violence, supernatural themes, and the reviewer’s comments about abusive relationships, are marketed to young teenage girls? Does anybody take any notice of ratings?The same thing happened with Harry Potter which was marketed to children but the later films were rated M.

  5. Yeh, its a tricky business. i commented in my Slumdog Millionaire review that I thought kids aged 13+ should see it, even though its MA. My reason being that it has some great messages in there.then you have Twilight, which teenagers a storming to see, and its just this awful, awful film, in both execution and meaning.parents please, don’t take your kids to Twilight. Get em down to Slumdog, or at least wait until Bolt on Jan 1st.

  6. I enjoyed the books in a retrospective kind of way (as in I knew how much I would have loved them as a 13 year old). The film is a simplified version of ideas that weren’t complex in the first place. And, worse than the hair, were the eyebrows. Someone went crazy with the black texta!

  7. The reason girls love this movie and its story line is the same reason all classic love stories appeal. Whilst Bella is a strong character and not a needy individual, Edwards qualities are that he is strong, loyal and absolutely devoted to her. These are appealing qualities that most woman find intoxicating in a man.

  8. I haven’t seen the film but did read the first book – mostly to see what the hype was all about. The characters and relationships are pretty one dimensional there too. Perhaps you need to be a 13 year old girl to get them (I’m in my 30s). As for the no sex, I’m told that Stephenie Meyers is a mormon, hence they are actually books about abstinence. After all, if a bunch of vampires can give up drinking blood and live like a happy family, then teenagers can definitely respect their parents and wait until marriage (which Bella and Edward apparently do in later books).

  9. Boy – lighten up people. On the one hand my feminist brain thinks: “Yikes! This is totally weird and creepy and borderline psychotic” and then my romantic brain thinks: “whhhaaaaa….” when I was watching Edward nuzzling Bella’s neck.Think Wuthering Heights, think Beauty and the Beast… there is a definite history of attraction towards the monster/broody male. Yes the acting is a little stiff but I remember being 13 and thinking I would love my then crush forever. Sadly he wasn’t a vampire hottie like Edward but the one thing I enjoyed about both the books and the movie was the capturing of that longing. Yes the feminist says “What a crappy agenda of abstinence etc” but the other me – the 13 year old trapped in this 41 year old mother of two’s body says “YES! YES! YES!!!”

  10. Wow.So quick to focus on all the bad things but none of the good things.Have any of you bothered to read the books?The reason why teenage girls relate to this is because it is a sort of fantasy to them.The books are very descriptive and if any of you bothered to read the entire series you would get a better understanding.Yes I agree, his hair is awful, and some parts made me wonder what the hell was going on, the glittery skin, is somethign I will never understand, I cannot see how that would make him attractive.Yes, the whole sneaking into the room and secretly following her thing is disturbing, but have any of you bothered to actually sit and listen to the words spoken? To see the message beyond all that rather than sit there and complian about a bad hairstyle?The charecters aren’t two dimensional in the books.I took my friends one male, one female both had not read the books and both Loved the movie. Might I add you all shouldn’t judge a movie by a few bad ratings from some persons blog.Go out and see the movie for yourself, if you like it good for you, if you don’t, good for you. You’ve wasted time and some money, get over it.The no sex thing, there is more to a relationship then sex, that was the point that was being put across. In my teenage years I sat up and talked with my other half, what’s wrong with that?You saw the movie and didn’t like it, tough luck. I would like to see you all do a better job.

  11. i mostly agree with the get a life person lo0l im 15 years old and love reading books but twilight stole my heart i fell in love and i have read every single one more than twice and i love them all anyway u shouldnt judge by the first book 2,3 and 4 are just as good and who cares about the no sex thing not evrything is about sex ok even though they do end up having sex later on just be patient for gods sake if thats wat u want and i have watched the movie 3 times in the cinemas i can say that it was not as good as the book but i still love it and the actors in it too just stop complaining and focusing on the negatives wat bout the good things and if you think there were none then u need a life …THANK YOU xox

  12. cool, thanks for your comments. I agree that sex is not the be all and end all of romance. In fact, Slumdog Millionaire and Wall-E are probably the two best romances of the year, and don’t feature any bedroom antics.however, Twilight goes out of its way to be “anti-sex” which is why I brought it for talking about the positive aspects of the movie – i genuinely, swear to god, cannot think of one. I did enjoy Bella’s relationship with her father, but again, we’re talking about 2 minutes of screen time (and their storyline did not conclude in a satisfying way).im sorry if yall disagree; like i said, everyone is entitled to enjoy the film, particularly if they are fans of the book.but i genuinely think this was a terrible, terrible, terrible movie – and the fact that more people are seeing it than Slumdog Millionaire makes me infinitely sad. God, Twilight was awful.

  13. A beautiful, sharp summary of a story whose success if not at all surprising, but still horribly depressing.

  14. The characters are even flatter and creepier in the books.Bella is a completely self-absorbed little monster who in convinced that the entire world has the problem, not her. The most telling line in the book is her statement that “My mother was never in harmony with me”. She’s the center of the universe, and she’s a Grade A Speshul Snowflake who everyone should (and does in the book) adore for absolutely no reason. She’s selfish, self-centered, immature, and whiny.Edward is a perfect prototype of an abusive boyfriend. He stalks her, forces her into his car, steals the engine out of hers, kidnaps her, and also breaks into her house for months to watch her sleep without her knowledge. Bella, being the perfect role-model for today’s wayward youth, is flattered by this. She is also without any ambition whatsoever, excluding to glue herself to a man for eternity. First book, it’s Edward (she literally goes into a catatonic stupor when the jerk leaves her in the second book). But because he’s left her, she’s free to jerk around the heart of her “best friend”, and become a “werewolf girl”. Because I want my future daughters to define themselves based on the kind of man they’re with. This book is poison. Really. I’m hearing tell over the internet of girl’s (and women) dumping boyfriends because they weren’t Edward (read: completely obsessed with them, though at the same time managing to order them around like slaves). I’ve heard of non-fans getting called horrible names and even getting beaten up. All of this over a book series that glorifies abusive relationships, stalking, co-dependency, pedophilia (see: imprinting), sexual consent obtained by attrition, and true love being based on such a shallow premise. Because their “love” is shallow. She wants to sex him, he wants to eat her. They have no other interests, nothing else in common, not a thing. Not only that, but the books are childishly written, full of purple prose, awkward phrasing, and typos.

  15. People get so upset at critics of the movie who haven’t read the book. I have news for twilight fans out there, each movie in this ridiculous saga will DEFINATELY be worse than this one (and thats saying something!). So quit while your ahead, either stop reading the books, or stop going to the movies to avoid eternal dissapointment. You choose.By the to see me do a better job? I already have. I just completed filming on my own vampire movie. Set in the west Australian outback, three teenage vampires fight over a non-vampire high school girl. Comedy.Title: Three vampires in the West Australian Outback.

  16. It's sad watching the Vampire Genre going downhill fast; first with these books, now with this (string of) movies. The rate of domestic violence is on the rise & with pathetic role models like this it's not surprising. It makes you long for Buffy & the Scooby Gang to come along & stake him good. I wasn't that impressed with Bram Stoker's Dracula or Interview With A Vampire for that matter, but this makes them look like Oscar worthy productions. Someone else mentioned the tortured souls of Wuthering Heights in comparison to this series; I can remember reading that book over and over and sobbing over the manic obsessive pain of Cathy and Heathcliffe when I was 14. There is a huge difference in the two books, Wuthering Heights is a great book, Twilight is not. I also had no desire to experience the same kind of horror in my own life as Cathy and Heathcliffe experienced. Perhaps this is the problem. This series seeks to make these characters role models and to me they had few redeeming qualities apart from their abstinence.

  17. For a completely different take on the film, read the review from The Guardian. Bidisha writes: “Imagine my surprise when director Catherine Hardwicke sliced through Meyer’s female masochist poison and produced a defiant articulation of the female gaze and female desire…”

  18. this person clearly should not be writing reviews. If they even bothered to read the books and delved further into Edwards character) in Midnight Sun too) perhaps they would understand the plot and Edward.

  19. Jenniferyou dont happen to be a brainwashed bible basher do you??LOL

  20. We dont need to see sex in every movie. Twilight was refreshing! If the reviewer had bothered to read the books they would know the reason it never happenened until the 4th book

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