Vampires, Spidermonkeys and Race-changing makeup

by Rebecca Lang

"Twilight" review part two: The film

Something unexpected was in the air at the showing of teenage girl-cult film "Twilight:" giggles. Lots of giggles. After reading the slow-paced, thoughtful – if conflict void – novel, laughter was not to be expected. But somehow in its translation from type to screen, humor was unearthed.

"Twilight" centers on a classic and dangerous love story between new girl in school Bella (the exquisitely-browed Kristen Stewart) and mind-reading vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson of "Harry Potter" fame). In the novel, Edward is slick and smooth, never missing a beat. Sure he has a bit of trouble not jumping up from his desk in biology class and devouring the blood of Bella the moment he sees her, but with a bit of wrist-clenching he can keep his cool. However, the subtle dynamic of Edward diffusing his instinct to eat Bella became so humorous onscreen that it was occasionally like watching two awkward characters on "Friends" try to flirt with one another. When Edward sees Bella in class, he appears to vomit in his mouth, displaying such a practiced showing of disgust that it becomes easy to imagine a fussy director forcing the two to re-shoot the scene over and over and over. "Pattinson!" he would say, "We need MORE nausea!" In another scene, Edward grunts at Bella that he needs to be rude, "it’s the best way," before darting off. The giggles incited by their interactions are probably about 90 percent laughing with the film, and 10 percent laughing at the film. Could have been worse.

Granted, some elements of "Twilight" were terrible. The CGI made the vampires look cheesy as they jumped onto trees and cars. The make-up artists and casters, for some reason or another, decided that it was ok to change the race of actors if need be, and did so in at least two noticable occasions. Taylor Lautner is painted brown and given a long black wig to play the Native American character Jacob Black, and "Thirteen" star Nikki Reed appears to have been bleached white and stuck in a blonde wig. Naturally quite striking, the new look leaves her … puffy.

But aside from these trespasses, "Twilight" took a lot of the novel’s weaknesses and got rid of them. The novel’s conflict between the veggie vampires and the human-eating vampires was far better foreshadowed in the film, and the resolution was actually explained. The love story was trimmed of some of it’s unrealistic fat, and the two main actors brought maturity to the characters that they lacked in the novel. The colors of the film are rich – mostly deep mossy green, dreary blue and deep reds, setting the tone of thoughtful isolation that Bella suffers. The film also emphasized the moral quandary of vampire existence more than the novel, which instead focused on how ideal of boyfriends vampires could be for teenage girls who want to cuddle but aren’t ready for sex. Kristen Stewart revealed her talent at playing a traumatized victim through expert use of cross-eye and anxious blinking, although Robert Pattinson’s English accent is a bit rubbery, which may have contributed to Edward’s newfound awkwardness.

At one point in the film, Edward tells Bella to "hang on tight, spidermonkey" before launching her up a tall pine tree. Whether or not writer Stephenie Meyer intended for such giggle-inducing moments to be worked into her story, they at least make it more interesting. Grade: B.