THE VERDICT: Let’s Talk about ‘Twilight’ for a Second

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Let’s set the stage for the newcomers before I get ahead of myself. Twilight is a film based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Stephenie Meyer. The story centers on Bella as she moves from Phoenix, Arizona to the small town of Forks, Washington to live with her father. She paints herself as an outsider and assumes her time in Forks will be lived as one. To her surprise she makes friends fast, but her anxiety is never left at ease as one classmate has caught her attention and vice-versa. Edward Cullen glares at her with black eyes yet she can’t stop thinking of him.

Edward’s angry scowl isn’t one of hate, at least not for Bella, it’s due to his thirst for her. Edward is a vampire and he is drawn to Bella and his family’s pledge to drink only the blood of animals prevents him from tasting hers, but the mutual infatuation soon grows into a relationship, one that constantly puts Bella in danger as Edward could be overcome by his desire at any moment. And our plot is created.

Based on gender stereotypes and the desire to appear manly, the fact that I am a 31-year-old male basically means I shouldn’t like or even bother reading Meyer’s “Twilight” because it is a sappy love story aimed at teenage girls and embraced by their connected-mothers. Some may argue that the fact that it has vampires should appeal to a male reader and would be the counter balance, but I would argue that anyone that doesn’t see the relationship almost all vampires have with their prey as some sexual metaphor (and a romantic one at that) has been lying to themselves only in an effort to enjoy the blood factor. This basically rules out a well-written vampire novel as some gruesome excursion into testosterone.

Vampires have always appealed to me, but to find a truly good vampire story is not as easy as it may seem even though the market is constantly flooded with them. On top of that I don’t actively search them out. In book form I fell in love with the aristocratic and high brow vamps Anne Rice spun and who didn’t find some love in Stoker’s “Dracula”? Stephen King’s “Salem’s Lot” was a passing interest only because I love King, but his vampires didn’t have the lasting appeal Rice’s do even though I grew tired of Lestat’s rock band very quickly.

At the movies it’s even harder. Blade and 30 Days of Night are your comic book versions and Underworld created its own mythology. Dracula, I don’t think, has ever had a “great” appearance on the big screen. Interview with a Vampire was decent and Queen of the Damned ruined any chance of seeing The Vampire Lestat (an AMAZING book). From Dusk Till Dawn was fun, but I think most people will agree the film actually gets worse when the vampires show up. The Lost Boys is perhaps one of the best vampire movies out there and Van Helsing is so embarrassing even the audience that watches it should hide their face.

Suffice to say, Twilight is battling an uphill climb because what makes the book so good does not translate well into a blockbuster success. Oops, did I let the cat out of the bag? Yup, I liked “Twilight”, a lot actually. I recommended it to my sister over Mother’s Day weekend. She bought it and read it in a day and is already starting “New Moon”.

Is there any reason to assume this is a book for girls? Well, yeah, in terms that it drips with “I love yous” and an endless amount of yearning, longing and pining. However, where I detested the sappy love story told in The Notebook, the sap here is warranted and not for what is said on the page, but for what happens in your head as you begin to examine the relationship between an immortal vampire and a not-so-common 17-year-old girl.

For example, Bella is 17-years-old and Edward was turned into a vampire at the age of 17, the difference of course being that Bella turned 17 in 2004 and Edward turned 17 in 1918. This means that we technically have a 17-year-old dating a 93-year-old. Hugh Hefner has got to be jealous of that, especially considering Edward doesn’t have to worry about the wrinkles or Viagra.

Meyer plays the temptress with her writing building tension simply for a kiss and it works on every level. It’s one of the only times I can remember actually wondering what would happen when the two main characters actually kissed. Romantic tension is built on the page and is a substitute for late night hunting parties as the vampires feed on wild animals. It’s a love story with a mythological twist and in terms of action there really isn’t much to be had, but it isn’t needed.

However, a romance won’t satiate the need most moviegoers must satisfy. “What? A vampire film and the blood sucking is kept to an absolute minimum?” That’s right folks, actually in the book there isn’t any blood sucking until the final moments of the story and even that isn’t told in real time. “Twilight” is a romance through and through. It doesn’t matter if that romance elevates your emotional meter or your tension meter, it’s what it is and the movie is going to need to stick to that story because any deviation will only lessen the impact. Unfortunately, at the same time, it will decrease male interest.

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Weekend: Jan. 17, 2019, Jan. 20, 2019

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