Five ways to improve the Twilight Saga

2010-06-29 17:34
Shaheema Barodien

But Twilight doesn't get me. It doesn't fulfill my expectations for nuance, or character development, or my need to be entertained, enthralled and, just maybe, enlightened. Last year, with Twilight Saga: New Moon on the horizon and the trauma of the first movie still fresh in my memory, I remained upbeat about the prospect of going through it all again and looked for 10 plausible reasons why it could be an improvement. As it turns out, I was wrong. So very wrong. The Twilight Saga seems intent on being as gormless as possible, pleasing the mostly tweeny female audience, no doubt, but alienating the rest of us. I've accepted that it's probably never going to make a fan out of me over the next three films (Eclipse is out this week, and final instalment, Breaking Dawn, will be split across two movies) but with the type of talent being invested in a franchise of this magnitude, the saga could easily afford to get its act together and at least be watchable.

Here are my five suggestions on how the makers can make better movies:

1. Lighten the f*** up
One of the best characters in the Twilight Saga is, naturally, someone we don't get to see or hear from very often. Jessica (played by the deliciously droll Anna Kendrick) is just a bit player in Bella's drama, and one of her few human friends. Her wry, quirky observations on Bella's Edward-obsession makes her easy to relate to. What passes for humour in Twilight is mostly of the awkward, unintentional sort: Bella remarking on Jacob's beauty in New Moon was a gut-buster because it was such a ridiculously false moment. Forks might be a permanently overcast and gloomy town, but the tone of five, 2-hour-plus movies needn't be. We want to see that the saga can see the funny side too, because we'd hate to think they take it so seriously.
 
2. Be more, you know, vampire-y
Sparkling aside, the Twilight vampire mythology is toothless and bloodless. They may as well be aggrieved youth league leaders for all the power and influence they have. Watching the feuding Cullen clan of vampires growl at their enemies on a baseball field in Twilight was... ridiculous. Vampires are primal creatures, they aren't afraid to get, erm, get their teeth into it. We haven't seen much in the way of the vampires' true, predatory nature in the Saga thus far. We want blood! And lots of it.

3. Don't be too respectful of the the source material
Stephenie Meyer's novels are written from the perspective of a teenage girl. A sullen, obsessive young girl who disregards her long-suffering father's attempts to help her, rejects her humanity and pretty much lacks in the personality department. And she is considered a role model. Some of the best film adaptations of popular novels found their own voice, allow the visual images to roam free and open themselves up to interpretation and new meaning. Twilight's staid, suffocating prose is literally translated onto screen, and that's no fun at all. A little imagination goes a long way.

4. Don't squander the pretty
We get it: Twilight is all about beautiful misery. But has the Twilight Saga become too reliant on its aesthetically pleasing cast? Will the sight of Taylor Lautner's ripped torso become the enduring symbol of the franchise, rather than say, an apple held in cupped, pale hands or a set of fangs? Twilight has been accused of being a glorified fashion catalogue many times before and that's unlikely to change. Twilight just doesn't do gritty. The true test will come in Breaking Dawn, when we see how some of the more controversial scenes will be dealt with. Book fans are probably dreading it.

5. The cast are people too - remember that.
When Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson appear ill at ease when talking about their characters, it's because they are. These geeks-at-heart have become the faces of a global phenomenon; the dancing ponies of Summit Entertainment, coyly avoiding questions about their maybe-real-life love affair (because it might be more alluring than the one they portray onscreen) and almost-kissing at the MTV Awards (for the umpteenth time) because they have to. Stewart and Pattinson will outlive the franchise, and based on what we know of their personal tastes (he's a fan of Jean-Luc Godard, she digs Albert Camus) it's unlikely they're actual Twilight fans themselves. It's clear that they're more interesting people than the characters they've become famous for portraying. Although, their life of world travel to glam hotspots and almost universal admiration is not a tough one - at all.

* The Twilight Saga: Eclipse opens in cinemas on 30 June. Read our review here.


Comments

  • Sean - 2010-06-30 09:59

    Bella and Edward is probably the 2 worse onscreen couples I've ever come across. I liked the first movie but Bella's obsession with the pale one killed it for me. If it wasn't for the wolve pack and especially Taylor I would have turned it off within the first 10 minutes. I've not seen anything more appealing than that boy bearing his naked torso in the rain :-)

  • Willem - 2010-06-30 11:48

    Twilight would have worked if it were based around anything but vampires. Rather make it love between an extremist Muslim faction boy and a Hare Krishna girl. Either way, it is a dreary, gloomy love story that worryingly appeals to more women nearing their 40's and menopause than teenage girls...

  • Charlotte - 2010-06-30 12:03

    Come on people please wake up and smell the coffee, these movies have been screened according to the books that were written. So if you would like to through comments around that aren't needed, look at the author first. I like each movie that has come out so far being Twilight. You expect to much and then you think you are let down. All the movies are brilliant and nothing wrong with them. If these movies are not for you, go watch Shrek, maybe you will get more what you hope for!!! O and something else ....GET A LIFE!!

  • A fan - 2010-06-30 12:55

    Personally i think you boys are just jealous. Obviously this movie can speak to the female of the species better as it is really "food for thought" and actually very intense. Actually, I think every woman on earth would like the commitment that both Edward and Jacob have towards Bella - and they have brains to - bargain!!!! So, go on and dis it - jealousy makes you nasty

  • @A fan - 2010-06-30 12:59

    Mary sue says what? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_sue

  • bella - 2010-06-30 13:04

    @ Charlotte if you read the books you would be so disappointed in the movies. The storyline doesn't really pull through and some bad acting as well. Only thing great is the music.

  • Rapunzell - 2010-06-30 14:08

    The Twilight saga has offered hormonal teens and bored housewives an excuse to stare and scream after some seriously good looking actors. Being a Twilight Bookie before the movies came out, I have to say that Bella's obsession was irritating at first, then endearing. The movies are nowhere NEAR the books - especially when compared to my 'been-there-done-that' obsessive imagination. I am hoping that Eclipse will be better than the first two, as it is my favourite book in the series. For the haters - if you dont like it, dont watch it. I still havent seen Star Wars and I am VERY content with that.

  • @A fan - 2010-06-30 14:09

    Jealous of fictional characters? I think you need to lay off the drugs

  • Cathy - 2010-06-30 14:45

    I was one of the Die Hard Twilight fans who watched Eclipse at midnight. I've read the novels more than 3 times. No, I am not a bored Housewife. I manage a multi-million Rand portfolio at a large financial institution. And I think Eclipse was amazing! Yes, the books are always better than the movie but I think Eclipse came as close to being PERFECT as any adaptation could ever get.

  • Twiheart Ma - 2010-06-30 16:03

    Oh come on, get a life people, it's NOT about blood and gore, and it's NOT a horror movie! It's about young people falling in love and making choices. The bit of the mystery that surrounds some of the characters is what keeps teens (yes TEENS!) coming back for more. If life has made you too cynical to see the entertainment value, THEN DON'T WATCH IT!

  • @A fan - 2010-06-30 16:12

    Women like that kind of commitment, sure...but when they get it in real life they treat you like a 'moodle'!

  • Cakes* - 2010-06-30 16:21

    @Cathy: thank you so much! I needed to hear that it got close to the book before i watch it this evening. New Moon was disappointing but still a huge Fan. i can always go read the books again if i need to refresh.

  • Sereta - 2010-06-30 16:22

    No everything we watch needs to be about blood and guts, why can we not just enjoy the movie. I love horror but I love Twilight as well. I wish men were more like this vamp!!!

  • Claire - 2010-06-30 16:23

    I think your article is spot-on! You've correctly indentified the elements that make these movies utter trash. I personally feel that the integrity of a good story, has (once again) been destroyed by Hollywood. Meyer should be ashamed of what they've done to a good series of literature! Great, truthful article.

  • Jayde - 2010-06-30 17:55

    For all you people who hate TWILIGHT , I hate you !! Please get a life !! OH and if you didn't know the movies are based on the books but if you still criticize after Twilight:Eclipse then go to a psychiatrist and get your head read !! OH and for the Twilight fans out there ... WHO THINKS WEREWOLVES ARE HOT?...WELL I DO BECAUSE IF JACOB CAN PULL IT OFF I'D WANT A WEREWOLF FOR A BOYFRIEND ANYTIME ...BTW I AM TEAM JACOB !!!

  • Amy - 2010-06-30 22:47

    Now Buffy just needs to slay Edward and everything will be right with the world.

  • pRESHEN GOVENDER - 2010-07-01 07:35

    put is on mute and watch it for the eye candy

  • Jay - 2010-07-01 08:31

    I have never seen such utter nonsense in my life. The ladies seem to think this movie is super-amasing, I reckon if they can move past the eye-candy they'll see the movie itself is shyte! Lame acting, lame characters, no action, no sex, blood, guts - this is supposed to be a vampire movie right? Oh sorry no it isn't its Dawsons Creek with a different twist. This movie has done irreperable damage to Vampire lore and I hope this latest installment is the last so we can all move on and learn how NEVER to get it so wrong again. And for the ladies carrying on about the eye-candy, I dont see what the big deal is. Toothpick patterson has no muscles to speak of, skinny little runt - Kirstin is hardly hot! The wherewolf kid ok maybe some muscles worth a mention but the rest nothing worth mentioning. Where have all the real male actors gone, bunch of sissies these days.

  • Jugzin - 2010-07-01 08:32

    REAL VAMPIRES DONT SPARKLE!!!

  • Karen - 2010-07-01 08:41

    I'm neither a teen nor a bored housewife but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the books and the movies. Some easy reading fantasy is always welcome in a stressful world. It's fantasy which means anything goes so trying to change or analyse means you're taking it too seriously. Yes, it's not for everyone but the fact that it's done so well worldwide means that there is something to it and I feel sorry for those who don't get it and who try so hard to find faults with and criticize it instead of just relaxing and enjoying. Different strokes - if you don't enjoy or understand the popularity then perhaps you should let someone who does review it.

  • Red-Blooded - 2010-07-01 08:51

    It was utter trash man ! I watched the first movie and i like : "WTF ?!" It makes no sense. The story is dreary at best. The vampires carry on like crackheads with rabies and the characters are just too cliched. (BTW - a vampire in the sunlight - WTF ??)

  • omg - 2010-07-01 09:55

    well there goes 3 minutes of my life after reading this crap! uhm twilight IS a love story not a action movie, your article is just like you.. it sucks. if you don't like twilight stop moaning about it, no one told u to watch it. i hate blade and you don't see me criticizing it. you guys are just pathetic. goodluck in you miserable life... ps... there is more than enough blood and murder in the real life.

  • astounded - 2010-07-01 10:19

    You people act like you are possessed!!! Booking movie tickets 2 months in advance to watch a show at midnight is beyond me!!! You've read the books and know the story, but still have to watch the movies over and over again. Get a life man!!! It's a story, not the real world - stop acting like pathetic love struck teenagers - it's sickening!!!!

  • Breakdownboy - 2010-07-01 10:26

    Some people can be so boring! Why would you want another stereo typical vampire movie? This is something different and completely new. Why does the vampires sparckle in sunlight, because the creative voice behind the story decided to write it that way! If you want to watch an old fashioned vampire movie go watch BS's Dracula, but don't dis something creative and original just because you can't understand the appeal to a large audience.

  • Anja - 2010-07-01 10:28

    hahaha! soooo funny. me and some girls at work went to go watch eclipse last night with our secretary (as her husband flat-out wouldn't) and these comments ring so close to my critiques. It honestly doesn't feel like a movie, but some supernatural version of Dawson's Creek. They also set the character of Jacob up to be waayyyyy more appealing than Edward. Even in the books. It's really such a bummer when she chooses the 100 year old granpa vampire dude over the hot young werewolf guy. Ends up having to kill herself to be with him. as if.

  • Mila - 2010-07-01 10:31

    I've read all the books and watched all the movies and I loved every moment of it. Can't wait for more. And I'm neither a teenager nor approaching middle-age, I'm a sexy 30 year old with three degrees to my name, one being auditing. The critics seem to fall into four categories, though: 1. Guys who are obviously jealous of the good-looking actors 2. People who have been hurt in love and thus turned cynical 3. Journalists who are a bit pretentious or trying to impress a certain audience 4. Movie-goers with a short attention span, who need blood and gore to keep them entertained and cannot for the life of them follow a story-line. Lighten up, critics, it's just a story!

  • Danster - 2010-07-01 10:34

    It is a goth version of Dawsons Creek. In other words it sucks big time. Your article is SPOT ON thanks. Vampires suck blood people and sleep in a coffin during the day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Juan - 2010-07-01 11:33

    I saw part of an episode and Alice in Wonderland was more credible, Mills and Boon was less drawn out and Barney has better plots. No-one can benefit from this.

  • Melissa - 2010-07-01 11:47

    If the Twilight Saga does not speak to you, then don't watch it. Very simple actually

  • Melissa - 2010-07-01 11:53

    IF THE TWILIGHT SAGA DOES NOT SPEAK TO YOU THEN DO NOT WATCH IT - WHAT DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND

  • HS - 2010-07-01 12:03

    I'm a woman, and really really don't get the point of Twilight. As a vampire movie, where's the fear? And it may be the worst love story ever. Want to see a real tragic love story, watch The End Of The Affair, or Wuthering Heights. Something that draws you in. Something in which you can actually feel the emotions. Twilight is really dof

  • LeeMag - 2010-07-01 12:15

    If you didn't like Twilight, why did you bother to watch New Moon. If this isnt your type of movie - go watch an Action with bloods and gore. This is am amazing story, and 90% of the world population agrees. Get over yourself, and note that there are other audiences out there besides the one's like you.

  • LeeMag - 2010-07-01 12:18

    If you didn't like Twilight, why did you bother to watch New Moon. If this isnt your type of movie - go watch an Action with bloods and gore. This is am amazing story, and 90% of the world population agrees. Get over yourself, and note that there are other audiences out there besides the one's like you.

  • Joe - 2010-07-01 12:55

    i agree with the rest,if you dont like it dont watch it.Its not a vampire movie, its a love story with a twist,give it a break okay.I read the books and watch the first two movies about 10 times each and i dont get bored with it.Mr husband agrees with allot of you,he thinks its rubbish and not worth watching,so i tell him then dont watch it but dont stop me from enjoying it.I have to admit though Bella is a bit boring,miserable and all the rest.But remember this is no normal story,and to the people that dont like it,they must be doing something right because it is such a popular series of movies because it is no your usual love story / vampire movie - it looks at all those things in a new different light.i am interested to see what they are going to do about the next movie as there are some things that i would love to see them pull off that are in the movie.

  • Wesley - 2010-07-01 12:58

    Is she pregnant yet. After all Bella seems like a walking teenage pregnancy. P.S I saw the first movie ...did not read the book

  • Juan - 2010-07-01 13:35

    I agree, dont watch if you don't like, but I had to go see some of it to be able to draw an opinion. It seems quite popular worldwide, but so is smoking. it has a lack of principles and role models for our youth, wives or girlfriends.

  • Aamena - 2010-07-01 13:41

    I dont care wat the critics say the characters, the story line, the passion,love etc portrayed in Twilight Novels are every human beings dream to be wanted, loved and worshipped be it fairy tale or not, just to have even a portion of what they share would be enough to last a life time.

  • Sugan - 2010-07-01 14:26

    I love these people saying "real vampires doesn't sparkle"? Vampires don't exist, period.

  • Jack - 2010-07-01 15:41

    Harry Potter is better, because he is not as gay as Edward. In 3 movies, Harry has had 3 different love interests. Twilight is a girls choice between beastiality and necrophilia...

  • Liesl - 2010-07-01 16:41

    I agree with Jack. The Harry Potter series is much better and much more entertaining.

  • NL - 2010-07-01 17:34

    i can't stand twilight, the first one was fine, but the second oh gosh what a waste i fell alseep, the movie is really for lonely people and cut my wrist it's the biggest load of SH#$t i have seen...

  • bee - 2010-07-01 18:42

    Calling the books a snorefest would be a compliment. I couldnt even stomach any of the movies. Real garbage!

  • Ash - 2010-07-02 08:07

    If you didn't like the first movie, why watch the 2nd or 3rd? That seems crazy. There are lots of movies that I thought were completely overrated but I understand and RESPECT that everyone has different tastes and would never waste my time criticizing those movies, especially not so passionately - that's just sad. There's enough anger in the world, why don't you rather spend your time praising those movies that you do like and leave the Twilight fans to enjoy the stories. People are always jealous of things that do so well like this and try to bring it down but it won't work, it's big for a reason, if you don't get it then don't waste your time trying to let the rest of the world know you don't get it - no on cares!

  • JK - 2010-07-02 11:00

    Am I the only one who can read properly here? where does the writer say that she DOESN'T get Twilight? read that 1st paragraph again! This just goes to show that people who obsess over the Twilight books have the reading comprehension of a pre-schooler.

  • grant - 2010-07-02 13:17

    i would like to see Blade take care of all the vampes that would be cool lol

  • haha - 2010-07-05 12:46

    i dont think that Shaheema really likes romance movies. whether they're in a comedic, dramaic or action setting. its not your thing. atleast not the current day ones. the reason the books are called fantasy novels is cos they arent real. im assuming you havent read the books at all because of what you say about the vampires. read the books and you'll understand that stephenie meyer moved away from the idealised vampire stereotype. ive read the books just to see what they were about - not my thing. watch the movie, hate it. watch it and love it. but atleast read the books before u critique the movie!

  • Funny - 2010-07-05 13:13

    Robert Pattinson = It's amazing how a little fame can get an ugly guy layed! OMG seriously. I'd rather have a foot for a face!

  • warwick - 2010-07-05 17:49

    Shaheema Barodien you have TOTALLY missed the point. Vampire movies have become so passe, that an element of 'new blood,' don't pardon the pun, had to be introduced. it's the lack of all the gory stuff you so grossly desire at first bite, that is meant to have your appetite grow ferociously for it. you should of worked up a thirst by now and be aching for it, but you missed the ENTIRE point. you shouldn't be a film critic - I'm astounded you were chosen to review this film when clearly you don't get it!? It's like the peak before the orgasm, but you just wanna dive straight in and forget any foreplay. VERY UN-SENSUAL of you. I thought the movie/s was/were good, not outstanding, not bad, but the concept ingenious.

  • Warwick - 2010-07-05 23:19

    i had to have one last say: Breakdownboy & Mila have the two most intelligent, sussed take on the movie... i have to add one thing...IN THIS WORLD NOTHING STAYS THE SAME, EVERYTHING CHANGES & NEEDS TO BE REINVENTED, including people/'things'. humans once wore animal skins, we now wear clothing. centuries ago, people with iron deficiency[it's a disease - extreme anemia. the opposite is haemochromatosis where you get blood let every 2 weeks - it runs in my family!] used to suck the blood of others, now they can supplement :) i find those who get off on blood squirting, guts spilling to the extreme are always not too intelligent & always use profanity & abysmal usage of the english/other language/s... or they too wily and dark & nasty for their own good - bitter & twisted, usually filled with hate. i was expecting blood and guts and walked out feeling refreshed. when whatz his face? edward... sparkled in the sun, i thought OH CRAP that's nonsense! THEN i realized, itz all been reinvented! yes slow moving, nothing i'd go wild over, but enjoyable refreshing viewing... look fw to eclipse... BTW - vampires exist! they have managed to do so as they move with the times [zeitgeist] - i don't mean that 'bluff' crap smoke screen nwo, new age, free mason movie.

  • Jenn - 2010-07-06 15:19

    Perhpas if the author read the books she may be in a better position to comment. Movies never do justice to a novel. You opinion is yours, no need to generalize. I know a number of people who aren't "teens or bored housewives" who enjoy the BOOKS very much. If you don't enjoy the movie don't watch it. And if you fancy yourself the next Barry Ronge thenkeep your emotions in check, it makes for bad writing (and READING for that matter) in check!!