Has anyone seen the Veggie Tales dvd, Tomato Sawyer and Huckleberry Larry? In the beginning of the movie Larry goes to his book club where they are talking about Huckleberry Finn. It is discovered that the whole group has been reading the “Norm’s Notes” version of the books for their club and to be honest are more interested in the desserts they’ve brought for the meeting. A pretty typical description of a lot of book clubs, I think, not discluding my own. Except that I’d never read the Cliff’s Notes version of a book, unless of course it was for a college course. That’s different. But a book that was meant to be read for pleasure? Nobody wants the condensed version, as we all know it will not be able to contain all of the genuine emotions and delicate plot details that we know and love in the full version. It won’t have the true essence of the story.
This is the problem with movies based off books. It’s no surprise – we’ve seen a million of them, going in anxious and optimistic, leaving with a grumble of complaint about the butchering of an amazing work of fiction, and how could they leave this out and really what were they thinking and will they ever learn?
It would appear not. Now I understand that movies can only be so long – that the book Twilight for instance is not a short book, even if many of us devoured it in one sitting – it’s an experience – things take time in this book, as Meyer’s carefully constructs each detail working hard to not make Bella’s love story seem trite or typical and prone to the fleeting feelings of most high school girls. This story is different and it’s complex and heavy – and it’s a story about so much more than Edward and Bella – it’s a legendary vampire history, with amazing new twists on an old favorite genre – it’s about the inner workings of the mind of Bella, who was never an ordinary teenager in the clichéd sense. It’s about what a person becomes when they can live forever. It’s about family dynamics, small town dynamics, small town high school dynamics and on and on and on with rich characters that we grow to care about – each and every one – even Jessica and Mike Newton.
But this movie? I don’t want to insult the good work of many actors and actresses, but could this script have been any more fast paced? In one second Bella has just arrived and she’s easing into her new school and questioning her body odor (I’ll admit that scene was funny and brilliant) – and in practically the next scene she’s confessing love to Edward. And while their love story was not necessarily a long one per say, it was not that quick and we all know it (we who read the books). We know what an agonizingly long process this was for Bella and the movie seems to make light of that which irked me. All of the so true feelings of Edward and Bella seem almost mocked as if to say, “Don’t worry, no one is taking this serious.”
And while I don’t mind laughing at some of it, this movie seemed to be laughing at all of it – and rushing through the story in a very cliff notes fashion. You get the basic plot with very little of the essence. It felt very forced to me and I don’t think anyone was given a chance to do their characters and stories justice. Which is unfortunate, because every now and then when they slowed down a bit, I saw some beauty in this story come to life – the baseball scene was so absolutely stunning and well done that it literally blew me away. The Cullen’s house was more beautiful than even I had imagined it – so beautiful that my husband practically drooled on my shoulder and now we both want to live in Forks if only for that house, those mountains… That scene with Edward catching the apple was so brilliant and well done that I’m still visualizing it as I type this. The vampiric actions were deliciously fun to watch, even the bad guys, maybe especially the bad guys.
So I’m not saying I hated it – it would be hard to hate anything related to Twilight – and some small parts I really really loved. But a lot of it… felt… like how people see Twilight from the outside looking in, which I found very sad. I hope Stephenie Meyers likes this movie as it’s her baby really at the end of the day – her vision come to life. I’m just a fan who saw many things differently and was disappointed with how rushed and chopped a lot of (most of) the book was. I thought Bella and Edward were played well, but really neither were exactly how I picture them – the only person who was perfect, like spot on brilliantly perfect was Alice, who had maybe five lines in the movie sadly.
I feel like I might regret saying this, but I do hope they make movies for the other books, because as disappointed as I was, I enjoyed parts of it and it got me craving the rest of the story, wanting to see more – the amazing stuff to come in the next books that I had to use so much restraint to keep from blabbering to my husband about. And really this series got better with age, maybe the movies would, too? Or maybe each movie would leave me saying, “When will enough be enough? When will I learn?”