05 December 2008

The Long Awaited and Now Entirely Forgotten Review

OK, I figure I've put it off long enough to where most people have forgotten I said I was going to do it. Perfect!

I haven't felt exceeding levels of motiviation to review "Twilight" for two reasons: 1) Half of you cornered me the day after I saw it and asked me my opinion then, and 2) You're all going to be very disappointed in what I have to say anyway. Allow me to explain, won't you?

Let's start with an example. Stephanie (you remember Stephanie) knew the movie would suck, but still held out a glimmer of hope that it wouldn't be as bad as she feared. She wound up hating it. Now class, who can point out where she went wrong? Anyone? Anyone? Yes, that's right, the part where she hoped it wouldn't suck. That was her big mistake. You will discover throughout the rest of my comments here that with regard to Twilight, hope is your worst enemy.

Now let's take another example, that being Ethel, who I also saw the film with. Ethel knew the movie would suck. She hoped for nothing, including coming out without having slit her wrists to end the pain. Ethel walked away from the film pleasantly surprised.

I know how Ethel felt, because I had much the same experience as she. Before the film came out I watched the youtube videos of the Twilight film in production and all versions of previews to be had. Why? Because I did not want to go into this film unprepared, specifically for the worst. The previews alone sent me spiraling into a deep abyss of personal horror. The previews are supposed to be examples of the best parts of a film to entice potential viewers to see it. And the previews were embarrassingly bad. The preproduction videos were even worse. I've decided there's only one thing worse than seeing a trainwreck and that's watching it actually happen. Such were the preproduction videos. Even now the thought of them make me heave just a little. "This is gonna be BAD," I said to myself. I went to see it anyway.

What I discovered while watching the film was that I had successfully set my expectations low enough in nearly every category enough to be satisfied. Two categories though, were a problem for me. The first was the special effects of the film. I recall watching the preproduction shots and thinking, "Man, those special effects look awful. I sure hope (DANGER WILL ROBINSON, DANGER) they aren't nearly as bad in the film itself!" They were. Worse even. And they left me intensely disappointed. I didn't expect much mind you, but I expected them to look better than that. It was not to be so. In fact, what they had saved from showing in the previews for us to marvel at in the film itself were some of the silliest effects of the whole movie. I realize they were working with a tight budget, but how do you screw that up so monumentally? They really should have warned us that Edward's version of "running" would resemble more what a cat does when he doesn't want to be picked up but you pick him up anyway--that comical sort of leg-flinging in midair sorta thing. I only recall chuckling twice during the film, and that was one of them.

The other chuckle I got was contributed in large part by reading Eric D. Snider's review of the film first. If you haven't checked out his film reviews before, you are seriously missing out. The worse the grade he gives a movie, the funnier the review. Not only are his reviews hilariously harsh and sarcastic, but he uses a great deal of hyperbole to make his point. When he said that Carlisle's make-up job was so bad he looked like a mime, I laughed out loud thinking, "Oh Eric, your exaggerations sure do crack me up!" And then when I actually saw Carlisle onscreen with caked-on makeup so extreme and pasty white he actually looked like a mime, I again laughed out loud, because honestly, what are the odds? And how can a director look through a film camera and NOT see what that man looks like?

Aside from those two issues, the rest of the film left me either on track with my original lack of hope or even pleasantly surprised. I need to point out, not surprised because it was good, but because it wasn't nearly as bad as I had prepared myself for. I remember thinking about halfway through, "You know, this is actually kinda cute!" I still think that. It was cute--much cuter than I had ever anticipated. And to boot, the acting wasn't as bad as I had anticipated, either. It was bad, no question. But not AS bad. Are you catching on now? I was even impressed that Kristen Stewart seemed to not be playing herself once or twice. Congratulations, Kristin, you little twit! You didn't hose up the movie entirely by yourself!

Speaking of which, I will also admit that the truck-cruching scene was waaaaay better than I assumed it would be based upon preproduction videos. It was actually kind of exciting! And not just due to the thrill of seeing Kristin Stewart almost get crushed to death! It actually looked almost realistic, with great sound effects and everything. So props to the film for having one awesome five-second scene! W00t!!

And I will also gladly compliment Twilight on its modest levels of humor. I recall laughing out loud several times throughout the two hours at honestly funny jokes. A couple were duds, but by and large, the jokes were funny and by and large, all of the good ones came from Bella's dad, Charlie. Billy Burke (the actor who plays Charlie) has been in comedies before (most notably "Jane Austin's 'Mafia!'") and his excellent comedic timing and deadpan delivery did not go unnoticed by me. He was the best part of that whole film (other than Kristen getting squashed).

We were in an audience full of several different kinds of folks, ranging from the young girls to senior citizens out on their date night. And several times during the film we had moments full of laughter that was not intentional by the film. I didn't understand this. If they had done even the slightest amount of research, none of the crappiness they saw should have surprised them to the point of laughter. Who honestly went into this movie thinking it would be good? Like, on normal scales of achievement? Who did these people think they were kidding?

If you have yet to see the film because you live under a rock or are as cheap as all get out, approach the film the same way you should have approached the books: with a healthy dose of caution, extreme research beforehand, and miserably low expectations. If you hope for anything it will not happen. I guarantee that is the only formula for successfully emerging from the experience with happy thoughts.

I'd like to end on a funny note by directing you to Eric Snider's Rejected Twilight Screenplay. For those not in the know, Eric Snider is first and foremost a comedic writer. His "rejected" screenplay is similar in style to the abridged Titanic screenplay he wrote ten years ago that caught on like wildfire around the internets. You might as well go read that one, too.


Jacob and Mindy T. said...

ok so I didn't think Twilight was fantastic mostly due to a lot of the things you pointed out like the poor special effects but overall I still liked it. Guess that's because I am a huge Twilight fan. I'm PRAYING the next one will be better since they made so much off this one they should have a better budget for the film. Here's to hopin! LOL

Benteti5 said...

I disagree wholeheartedly in your approach to movie watching. No prior research should be done. Who cares what others think. Especially if, regardless of the research you knew you were going to see the dang movie anyway. Don't waste your time. I am cheap and not that excited so I'll wait for Blockbuster. I know even though you rip on the movie, it'll be in your collection one day.

Stephanie B said...

My friend called me yesterday and said, "I loved it, every morsel of it. Wasn't Edward steamy?" Now, mind you, she was watching a bootlegged copy that my friend bought in Chinatown. She did mention that all she could see of Jacob were his pearly whites. I just had to laugh. Maybe it won't be as bad when it gets on video.

Bonny said...

Thanks for your review. Why is no one paying you to do this for a living yet? I was curious, is this also the philosophy by which you live life--expect nothing and be pleasantly surprised? Because it actually seems like a formula for happiness to me. Ryan also did a substantial amount of research for the movie, and left the theater saying the movie was, and I quote, "phenomenal." I enjoyed it, but am not sure I would go all the way to phenomenal.

Jody said...

Still have yet to see it--but enjoyed your review. I think when I actually do see it, I'll be much better prepared from the vast amount of sources you pointed me to. I'll let you know what I think once I do watch it.

Abby said...

Mindy, no amount of cash can improve the next movie. It's the whole artistic approach that needs improvement and it's just not going to happen. Plus, you gotta take the original source material into account. No money's changing that, either.

Kristi, I beg to differ. If I had done no research I would have been completely miserable in that horrible film. Because of my avid research I was able to enjoy it on the only level possible: the lowest. And I may own it, I may not. I own a virtual crapload of films. Depends how cheap it gets.

No Bonny, unfortunately I frequently expect things to happen and as a direct result am also frequently annoyed and disheartened. This is why my attitude sucks. I really should just throw the "hope" crap away and be better off for it. And you're right: why aren't you paying me to do this?

Phenominal? Like, the real kind? What?

Benteti5 said...

Beg all you want. Remember now, pessimism killed the cat....or something like that.

Heidi said...

I finally got to see it yesterday-- my mother and I both laughed merrily at some parts-- either they involved Bella's dad, who was definitely one of the best parts of the film, or they involved Jessica, who reminded both of us why being a vampire must be truly hell. You have to go to high school over and over again.

I did about pass out when Carlisle first walked onto the stage. Were they trying to make him look like a corpse? And the actor is actually good-looking in real life.

elesa said...

haven't seen it yet. I appreciate the warning. I imagine I'll probably watch it when they show it on TV, so I'll let you know how it goes then.