Can we take a second to talk about the newest lit-to-film fad corrupting our children? Enough with the darling wizards in plaid robes; we’re talking about vampires now. Sexy, sexy vampires.
If you haven’t heard about Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight saga by now, you obviously have no daughters/wives/friends. The story of Bella Swan, a rather underwhelming young woman, and the vampire who wants quite badly to suck her or f . . . uh . . . make out with her, has been taking the teenaged-girl world by storm since the initial book’s release in 2005. The quadrilogy finally concluded this year with “Breaking Dawn,” and the first movie premiered on Nov. 21st.
The books were huge, and the movies will be hugerer still. Every smitten-kitten 14-year old who couldn’t induce her best friend to pick up a 400-page brick is certainly going to be able to drag her to the theater for an evening of blood-sucking and squeee-ing. Every middle-aged woman who wouldn’t be caught dead thumbing through a YA novel on the Skytrain is going to be up for a night out with the girls. Hell, I even saw a few guys at the theater. With their friends. And if the books portray a suspiciously co-dependent relationship between Bella and her hunky Dracula, the movie condenses and throttles up the neediness until watching it is like drinking an undiluted syrup. Of need.
The relationship between Edward Cullen and Bella Swan is unhealthy, straight up. No one in their right mind is going to agree that this is how two people should fall in love (that is to say, instantly, and based purely on physical attraction on one side and bloodlust on the other), and how two people in love should treat each other. Unfortunately, the target audience (viz. shrieking teen girls) is rarely in its right mind. While maybe one in a zillion 11-year olds who follows HP and friends is going to think to himself, “Witching is COOL!”, I guarantee you that fully half of the young girls who watch this movie are going to come away wanting their own psychotically possessive, disturbingly older (Edward’s been 17 for some 70 years) boyfriend.
From the way he initially spurns her (due to his unrelenting thirst for her blood and a desire for her safety, mind you) with all the subtlety of a sack of angst-ridden hammers, to his constant “You can’t do that” and “You must do this,” to the way he grabs her arm when she stumbles and snaps, “Can you at least watch where you walk?” (again, safety first), to the way he’s always shoving her into cars or thrusting her behind him (and away from danger! Oh, he’s so safety-conscious, is Edward), the vamp is a walking A&E; special on Why We Leave Them. For her part, Bella clings to him and puts up with him and constantly (in the books, anyways) derides herself in comparison with him, and practically asphyxiates begging him not to leave her. This, her boyfriend of some two months.
Granted, it’s an intense few months, full of Confrontations and Serious Discussions. There’s no flirting and levity bringing these two lovebirds together, but scowls, furrowed brows, and constant, unmet demands for answers. Aside from the bizarreness of it — teenage love should be all Frisbees, milkshakes, and making out in cars — this kind of killed the important bits of the movie. The melodrama of the moment when Bella uncovers Edward’s dirty secret is pretty much overshadowed by the unrelenting melodrama of the previous hour.
In fact, there are a number of other bones I could pick with this movie. Like how they took Rob Pattison (who is quite nerdily sexy as Harry Potter’s Cedric Diggory) and totally de-hotted him. And being hot is, aside from being undead, Edward’s defining characteristic. I mean, this movie was a guaranteed success. They could have at least flung a little bit more money towards making Edward’s undead neck the same floury color as his undead face. Or how Bella is so constantly surly, and is always sexy-biting her lower lip, and refuses to shut her rabbity mouth for more than a second. Or how . . . actually, Edward and Bella are my only real beefs. All the other vampires are spot-on, the high-school girls are refreshingly average-looking, the corn-fed young man who unsuccessfully pursues Bella for a minute is bright-eyed and keen. Everyone is charming and surprisingly pleasant, given that half of them are the stuff of horror stories, except for the Dour Duo.
Unfortunately, it is these two and their aggressive co-dependency that occupy the most time onscreen. Talk about sucking.