24 January 2009

Emo-Vamp Sucks on the Big Screen

So Twilight. A modern-day teen flick about high school, love, and...vampires? It's not as bad as you might think. Actually, it's worse.

Excuse my pun, but this movie sucks big-time. Although I had sworn in a previous post that I would never be caught dead (undead, perhaps?) watching Twilight, the other day, in a moment of serious boredom, I actually did.

Let me set the stage...

I recently reread Bram Stoker's Dracula. I'm intrigued by that book, and have read it several times. Upon finishing it, I watched two different versions of the movie. Then, one random night about three weeks ago, I was looking for a good romantic comedy to watch - but instead, decided to scratch the romance and see Van Helsing, which I found to be quite interesting, though definitely a tad cliché. Yeah - I've been feeling blood-thirsty.

So was it really any wonder that, though I had sworn off this movie forever, when I found it the other night on watch-movies.net, I decided it might not actually be that bad? At any rate, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button wasn't working at that time, and there wasn't much else to see that my host dad doesn't already have in his movie collection.

But enough justification. I watched the movie. I hated the movie. Allow me to go into detail.

Twilight is more than a little blatantly directed at the pig-tailed, giggling, bubble-gum chewers of the world. In fact, had not the books, written by Stephanie Meyer, previously enthralled the pre-teen girl population - who wouldn't recognize a truly great book if it fell on their heads and knocked them all out, which wouldn't exactly be a tragedy - I doubt that this movie would have seen anything more than mediocre success, if even that.

To be fair, and to satiate all of you who will no doubt raise one eyebrow and say in judgemental tones, "But you haven't read the books," I will admit that while writing this post, I thought the same - I can't really write a decent review of this story without having read at least the first few chapters, now can I? Maybe the movie doesn't live up to the books. So I looked up the book online, read the first few chapters...and - wait for it - was not at all shocked to find that Stephanie Meyer made numerous grammatical errors as well as frequent punctuation mistakes, and was versatile in her methods of creating run-ons and fragmented sentences - though, contrarily, used little or no imagination when it came to varying her sentence structures.

I feel dreadful for the little fan girls who read these books. They'll all grow up with a terrible concept of the what it is to live within a really amazing novel, all the while thinking that a book is wonderful if the main male character has dreamy eyes or is considerate enough not to kill his girlfriend while he feasts on her blood. (Not to mention, none of them will be able to write a paragraph or have a decent vocabulary.) This is how the trash romance genre was started. And now begins the era of the glittering, trash vamp?

These are the kids that I'm going to teach. Yay, me.

Throughout my own pre-teen years, my favorite book was Howard Pyle's 1883 novel, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. Fantasy? To be sure. Genius? Quite. Pyle pulled me into the world of those jolly, green-clad men, and made me wish I could live under the trees and learn to fight with a yew staff, and when evening came play a lyre in the moonlight and sing songs with the best of Robin Hood's men. I still have my copy from fourteen years ago - it's minus a cover, but it's just as loved now as then.

But not one of these Twilight teens will ever pick up a Pyle tome, because sadly, Pyle is more than just a notch above these fan girls' intellects. They could never master the intricate, archaic language that enthralled me at age ten, or fall in love with Pyle's poetry that flows straight from the page to the soul. This is the book that made me want to write. It literally influenced everything about who I am. Even now, at twenty-four years of age, I find this book fascinating.

These Twilight readers (though I hesitate to actually label them readers, as they are more like propagators of the junk novel genre, and the term "reader" really implies a bit of intellect) will never know who Pyle was, much less be able to name his works. It's a sad concept to grasp - that the decent literature of the past will be lost to this generation of emo, blood-sucking, pig-tailed, glamor-glossed idiots. Soon there will be no true intellect left in the world, and Pyle will remain on the library shelves gathering dust, to be at last pushed off by some new poorly-written series of teenage trash fiction.

And the saddest part is - instead of being changed and influenced for good as I was by Mr. Pyle, the only things these girls will take away from Meyer's unimaginative, high school vampire tales are a complete disregard for literature and the idea that two people will be compatible if they stare deeply enough into each others' eyes. Stephanie Meyer has just made laughable one of the most-loved monsters of all time, and she can now also claim to have had a direct hand in teaching a generation how to effectively have bad relationships.

People should stick to classics. Like Jane Austen. Or George Elliot. Or Alexandre Dumas. Or what I'm currently reading - Victor Hugo. And if they absolutely need a good dose of the sci-fi or fantastic genres, they should turn to the well-written books that have stood the test of generations - like Bram Stoker, for example, or the Dune novels (from which Star Wars was essentially stolen), Tolkien, or anything at all written by my long-standing, yet lesser-known favorite, Stephen Lawhead, from whom I learned the subtle art of a good tirade. I'll even admit to a slightly-misplaced, left-over-from-the-teen-years love of the world imagined by Terry Brooks.

However - since I always try to find something nice about everything, I will say this: You will never lose interest while reading Twilight.

Because Twilight doesn't have the ability to capture your interest in the first place.

Well, at least I tried to say something nice.

But I digress. I'm actually here to critique the movie. So here goes...

I didn't have to read the whole book to know that if the majority of the people it enthralls are the previously-mentioned, giggly, pink, pig-tailed, pre-teen fan girls, and the other people it enthralls also live up to those adjectives, then the movie would suck just as badly as the intelligence employed (or not) by its fans.

Shall I discuss Bella? I have never before seen such a glum, sour-faced heroine. She is instantly unlikable. Her dialogue, though obviously mimicking her dialogue from the books, creates the image of a self-absorbed brat who has been coddled too much at home. She is sarcastic, though not in an engaging way, and just the low, grating sound of her voice makes me cringe at times. Perhaps, in retrospect, that's the real reason they didn't let her talk much. She is so predictable - very dependent on Edward, very needy character - basically, the typical, shallow heroine of any romance, whether for teens or not.

And here's another thing - this chica is actually okay with Edward sneaking into her room every night to watch her sleep, following her around constantly, just "turning up" wherever she goes. So this teaches us what - that we should want to be stalked by the undead? Or that it's okay for men to be jerks if they're hot or if they "love" you? These are great life lessons. I'm so glad Stephanie Meyer has made it all so clear.

And Edward...ok, so yes, I admit to the fact that he has compelling eyes. It's the only nice thing about this movie. But - this self-loathing, indesicive, vegetarian vampire who has graduated from high school numerous times isn't great at pulling off a look that says anything other than serious egocentrism. His staring gives me the creeps. It's like he's saying, "I'm know I'm god-like. Worship me."

And he can't act worth a flying flip. He was obviously hired for the fact that he knows how to stare. However - in the books, Edward is supposed to be absolutely beautiful. In the movie...he has good eyes, but the rest of him could use some help. He's too skinny, too obviously stuck on his own looks, not to mention has pretty bad makeup in some of the scenes. He isn't vamp and beautiful. He's just vamp. And not even a scary one.

He is also controlling and manipulative. And he would never admit to being wrong. Sounds like a winner to me. My real dream man, right there. Self-righteous, snobby, undead villian. Right on.

Also, he needs to inform his eyebrows that he's undead. Maybe if they knew that they would die off a little too.

The plot of the movie might have been able to stand on its own two feet had it actually been revealed before the movie was three-forths finished. As it is, the majority of the movie can be summed up in the following basic dialogue:

Bella: "Why are you ignoring me?"

Ed (may I call him Ed?): "Because it's better if we aren't friends."

Bella: "But you basically stalk me."

Ed: "Well, yes, because I can't stay away from you."

Bella: "But now you're ignoring me again."

Ed: "I told you - it's better this way."

Bella: "But I want you. You have good eyes."

Ed: "Ok, but don't blame me if I end up drinking all your blood."

The impression I got from reading parts of the books was that they were actually written after the movie was made, just because it didn't seem like any thought went into it. No originality, whatsoever. It's as if a ghost-writer sat down, copied lines directly from the movie, threw in more than too much first person, and self-published without editing. When I write, even my rough drafts aren't as dull as the writing that placed Stephanie Meyer on the best-seller list.

(For your sake, Readers, I'll announce a rabbit trail...starting right now...) I think the real problem here is that there are no more Harry Potter novels to look forward to. J.K. Rowling's first HP book wasn't all that great, but the imagination was; the writing drastically improved over time. How do I know this?? Well, I've read them all, you see. I'm not dogging on the whole modern-teen-monster genre...just these Twilight books. So because Potter's ten years in the spotlight were finished, the teen population had to turn to what they see as the next best thing. Anyone notice that, though Twilight was first published in 2006, it wasn't nearly so popular until 2008?

But let's talk about the actual vampire-ishness involved in this movie, eh?

Aren't vampires supposed to be the ultimate villians? Aren't they supposed to personnify complete evil? Isn't it the idea in a nutshell that vampires must drink human blood to survive? That they are corrupt and that they corrupt others? And that they like it that way? Isn't that why we thrill at the idea of a vampire? And isn't that why we get chills when we read their stories?

But here we have vampires with consciences, vampires who are still playing god-like moral humans. Who don't drink human blood. Who are not corrupt, and who believe that they can still make the world a better place. Who save people instead of slaughter them.

Yes, it has all the makings of a really good thriller.

Here's something that irritated me - in the movie, when Edward and his siblings didn't show up at school on sunny days, I thought “Well, of course they can’t…because vampires combust in sunlight.” Imagine my disappointment when I found that these emo-vamps lack that feature. They just…sparkle. Was Stephanie Meyer herself thirteen when she wrote this crap? “Omg! I love vampires!!! I love glitter!!! OOOOO…..glittery vampires!!!!” Come on. For real. No research at all went into this movie, or apparently the books responsible.

If the punishment were suitable for this particular crime, I’d recommend driving a stake through Meyer's books, chopping them in pieces, and burning them in a large bonfire before they can resurrect and do yet more damage to the human race. But I'm not convinced that she, or her "readers," would catch the sarcasm in that.

My official Twilight rating - the dumbest vampire movie ever made - dumber even than Winona Ryder being in a vamp movie, and that's saying a lot. It's a movie that can only be fully enjoyed by revolting fan girls who are more interested in mooning over Edward's eyes than absorbing what plot there is - girls who will probably spend most of the movie texting girlfriends on their Hello Kitty cell phones, "OMG!!! HIS EYES ARE LIKE GORGEOUS!! I BET HE'S LIKE THE BEST KISSER EVER!!! OMG!!!!"

I have heard Twilight referred to as "a collection of feces on paper" and "Stephanie Meyer's brain abortion." And I'm not inclined to disagree.

Recommendation: a serious amount of espresso for this one. Or an alarm clock.

Yawning even now,
That girl in Switzerland

P.S. As an afterthought, here is a good link to Howard Pyle's novel, "The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood." This one is worth reading. I promise.


  1. So...um... I was sitting at work feeling gloomy and sleepy and then! I read your blog...
    Bless you.
    Have you read the Historian?
    It's not your typical vampire novel but its good.
    (don't hate me if you think it's shallow and boring :))

  2. :-D Thank you for your blessings. That means a lot to me.

    I have indeed read the Historian. It was recommended to me by the great Melissa Phelps herself, from whom no bad recommendation has ever been issued (she was the first one to recommend to me the Dune novels too, actually, which I mentioned in this post). I actually own a copy of the Historian...yeah...

  3. Thank you so much for the rant! It's good to hear a voice of reason in a Cullen-crazed world. Ahhh... I admit I have read the books mostly in hopes that I can show future students how ridiculous they are. I miss you! Hope your having fun:)

  4. you shouldn't swear!!! bisous

  5. so..I'm guessing you didn't like the movie!! after reading I can say that you have scared me away from ever seeing it. And I have to say that I'm rather saddened by how little knowledge of vampires is required to wrote a novel that has a vampire as a main character. That would be like me writing a novel about a Las Vegas show girl!!!!

  6. Hehehe, I love you, Heather. I can always count on you for a brutally accurate review. I followed your link. I am shamed to say that I have only read the abridged version of Robin Hood (I learned much later that all abridged versions leave out all the vital details that only some dimwit would think unimportant. It's kinda like reading Clif's Notes and saying you've read A Tale of Two Cities. Anyways, I think it's worth noting that in the very first paragraph of the preface of Robin Hood, there's a 44 word sentence (Yes, I counted, twice) that is actually a legitimate complete sentence, not a run-on. There are simply no skilled writers anymore. Lots of writers can come up with a good plot, but few have any actual writing ability to make the reader fall in love with language. You should write a book. I would buy it.
    Jessica B.

  7. Wow, I haven't heard the names of Lawhead and Brooks invoked in a long time...

  8. Lawhead and Brooks...ahhh...what can I say about these two guys.

    First of all, I love Stephen Lawhead and personally own at least two copies of everything he ever wrote except the Empyrion Saga (which are basically crap...it's hard to believe Lawhead actually wrote them). It just doesn't get better than a transplanted American-bred Oxford man with eloquence that oozes literary aestetic. I adore him.

    The reason I said my love of Brooks was a bit misplaced is that I used to be head over heels in love with his writing, back before I had ever read Tolkien for the first time in junior high. But after Tolkien...I feel like Brooks didn't use quite enough of his own originality...I feel like he "borrowed" a bit too much of Tolkien's genius. But he still writes a really good story. I own a whole rack of his as well. Sad, but true.

  9. wahahaha so u didn't like the movie or the books... we get it...
    i like the way u write though!