Sunday, 3 October 2010

Movie Review: Twilight Saga, (1-3)

The popularity of ‘The Vampire’ has seen a resurgence in recent times, no more so than amongst young adults and bored housewives who have, quite literally, fallen head over heels in love with the Twilight Series; a collection of romantic, fantasy novels penned by American author, Stephanie Meyer. Our tale is of one young American girl Bella, who falls in love with an 108 year old vampire Edward, who along with his family has turned away from taking human life in a bid to try and eke out their lives as normal human beings, or as normal as one can whilst trying to avoid being caught out in direct sunlight and exposing their true nature. The tale of forbidden love between mortal and immortal is an oft told one in vampire lore, but here the story is set within a high school in the sleepy town of Forks, Washington USA. Throw in a few werewolves, a love triangle and a few other ‘minor’ complications along the way and the scene is set.

The books were a hit and so it wasn’t long before a film adaptation of said books were in full production and, subsequently, became a global phenomenon. Having not read the books I can only assume, and if history has taught us anything, they’re better than what’s on offer here. Even without prior knowledge of the books the story feels disjointed and unfinished, as if whole chapters and important set pieces have been omitted altogether leaving the viewer often wondering what the hell is going on and why any of it matters, if at all.

Romance plays a huge part in many a movie and for a few is the core ingredient of some of the most celebrated films ever made, but here, ( in the first three films based on the novels of the same name), its delivery is water thin, sometimes unbearably cheesy and often just plain silly. Matters are made worse by the fact that our heroine Bella, (Kristen Stewart), is as an un-likeable and wholly unremarkable individual as you’ll ever likely come across.

Our love sick teen swans from one miserable scene to the next, dragging her self-pitying bottom lip across the ground, grumbling and generally acting like a spoilt, selfish child towards anyone or anything she stumbles into. Remember Kevin and Perry from the Harry Enfield Show? Yes, you’ve got it, just like that.

The story tries to justify Bella’s unhappiness with her life by her being an only child whose parents have separated, and while divorce can and often does affect any children involved here, in Twilight, it backfires-embarrassingly so. Both Bella’s parents are not only seemingly more content in their day to day lives and clearly a great deal happier by their decision to separate they both show an equal amount of love and affection toward their daughter and never starve her of a stable up-bringing while at the same time doing all that they can to guide and help her make the right choices in life. Bella gets on exceedingly well with her non-violent stepfather; her natural father isn’t a drunk; her mum isn’t the local whore. In fact Bella’s life is as well balanced, well rounded and as safe as any young person could ask for. Unfortunately though, Bella fails to rise beyond being anything other than an annoying, ungrateful little brat that needs a thick ear, or in our more politically correct society, a good ‘talking to’.

So what of the vampires themselves? In short they are without a doubt the most dreary, two-dimensional blood suckers to ever grace the big screen. Given that the vampire is arguably the most famous mythical creature ever to exist in popular folklore, one that boasts a rich and fascinating history dating as far back as Greek and Roman times with more than a thousand stories, tales and fables portraying this fearsome creature-of-the-night, that’s quite a feat.

Yes Twilights’ vampires can move fast, are extremely powerful and yes they drink the blood of the living, but they’re so flat and lifeless, (no pun intended), that just watching them amble about looking like they’re constantly auditioning for a Marilyn Manson music video will have you willing Van Helsing to make an appearance and exact his own particular brand of vampire slaying justice. Like his chosen family, Edward, (Robert Pattinson), is as equally boresome; his unwillingness to accept who and what he is, is accentuated all the more due to his having fallen in love with a human, (Bella), and who now won’t quit whining about the unfairness of his predicament . Further more, Edward and his clan’s attempts at trying to fit their vampiric nature around his pet human is not only cringe inducing, but will have you fighting to take any of it seriously as you attempt to stifle bouts of laughter at the ridiculousness of it all. “We’re glad to have you come by my dear; it means we get to use our Ikea kitchen for the first time!” It’s more The Munsters than Hammer Horror and as such isn’t very big on scares or the kind of nail-biting drama one would often associate with a vampire movie featuring werewolves.

And that is much of what the three films are about; the forbidden love between vampire and human in the face of adversity. There’s nothing wrong with the idea, it’s the staple on which all vampire tales are essentially built, but in Twilight it simply drags itself along at a snails pace without any real sense of direction and rarely will it have the blood pumping. Even the inclusion of love rival Jake, (who happens to be a vampire hunting werewolf from a long line of Native Americans ), struggle to make one care about the dark, romantic tale being played out and the characters therein. Having said that there is a glimmer of hope in the appearance of seasoned British actor Michael Sheen, who in the second film Twilight: New Moon plays Aro and who is also one of the Volturi; a powerful vampire clan considered to be royalty amongst other vampires due to their rather lengthy time as immortals. As expected Sheen delivers a performance with his usual sense of conviction and grandeur and for the brief time he’s on screen Twilights’ vampires feel more real, more alluring and more satisfyingly dangerous than they have for the entire three films. However by the time you’ve reached the third instalment, Twilight: Eclipse, you’ll be pleading for more than just a cameo to lift this irksome tale above its own sense of self-indulgence and deliver just a sliver of edge-of-your-seat-excitement. But it never comes, and so Twilight continues to drown, choking on its own mediocrity as one enervative side plot follows another usually involving some ingenious way to bump off Bella, who, consequently, has been far more of a thorn in the side for her new found friends than not which begs the question: why are they still putting up with her?

Fact is the Twilight movies aren’t very good. They’re neither tense nor thrilling; the plot is forced, often trite and leaves far too many plot holes and loose ends scattered about to bring a sense of satisfaction to any of Twilights’ conclusions. In all fairness the movies are more akin to a teen TV serial similar to Dawson’s Creak, albeit with vampires. With that in mind perhaps fleshing out the Twilight Saga over the course of a televised series would have been a far more agreeable approach and may have perhaps made for a more interesting, well rounded viewing experience? Then again, let’s not put ideas in their heads.

Maybe I simply don’t get it, and I freely admit that I’m not the most romantic individual out there, but anyone who is a fan of vampire lore and who has experienced the rather excellent Dracula: Prince of Darkness or perhaps read more than a few vampire novels in their time, should be confident in their knowledge as to what makes for a good vampire tale, because teen love and buckets of confused hormones oozing out of every pore are not it I’m sorry to say.


1 comment:

  1. The joys of fatherhood, eh? Kudos for taking one for the team.

    I'd watch the Twilight Saga myself so I could make an informed decision, but I'm afraid I have a penis.