We’re sure plenty of superfans of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series will complain loudly about the movie adaptation of the first book, Twilight, after they leave tonight’s midnight screenings. They won’t like the casting, or they’ll be upset the filmmakers left out their favorite line, or they’ll think the sparkle effect looked stupid.
But let us disagree in advance. As far as we’re concerned, Catherine Hardwicke’s movie of Twilight does what most movie adaptations can’t: It dramatically improves the book it’s based on. It’s more exciting, it’s more fun, and — most important — it’s way less annoying than Meyer’s gazillion-selling blockbuster. (The sparkle effect, though, did look better in our imagination.)
How can you say such a thing? indignant Twilight fans will howl. Let us count the ways, in our spoiler-filled slideshow.
First of all, the demands of compressing a 500-page book into a two-hour movie mean that most of the boring scenes of Edward brooding about stuff have been cut. In fact, for the entire middle third of the movie, Edward seems happy most of the time, which Robert Pattinson frankly plays a lot better than he does the dark, serious looks.
The movie adds an amazing sequence in which Edward takes Bella to the top of an enormous tree for a view of the mountains and river below. It actually totally rules.
In the movie, vampires make an unnecessary but awesome whooshing sound when they jump around.
Bella’s new friends in Forks have been given the Catherine Hardwicke treatment: They’re cooler, funnier, more multicultural, and way more interesting than they are in the book, where they’re mostly there to serve as distractions that Bella ignores on her way to Edward. For instance, Eric – described in the book as “a gangly boy with skin problems” who’s “the overly-helpful chess-club type” – turns into a hip, attractive Gaysian. And when everyone goes to the beach, they don’t just take boring walks to the tide pools; they go surfing!
Who knew Charlie’s mustache was so awesome?
At the movie, you get to hear teenage girls shrieking, “I love you, Edward!!!” before the opening credits even begin.
We predict at least one actual Team Edward vs. Team Jacob riot in a movie theater somewhere in America; the rivalry gets much more visceral with audience members cheering the arrival of their heroes.
While the baseball scene can’t completely avoid seeming like the campy miscalculation it is, we love that the vampires wear old-timey baseball uniforms.
There are jokes! Like, people tell jokes! Instead of just glumly or romantically talking about things! Bella and Edward even tell jokes to each other!
We guess because the movie was made by non-Mormons, there’s a joke about Speedo-stuffing! And two jokes about boobs.
For no apparent reason, the alluring young waitress who can’t stop flirting with Edward in Port Angeles has been transformed into a weird hipster chick with a hilarious bouffant.
When Edward explains to Bella that he can read thoughts, he points around the restaurant and tells her what everyone’s thinking about: “Money … sex … sex … money … cat.”
In a touching ode to primitive research technology, Bella actually reads a little bit about vampires in a book! Before going straight to Google.
Unlike in Twilight the book, in which Edward’s afraid to even describe a hunt, we actually get to see Edward chase down a deer in the movie.
When Bella visits Edward’s family, they charmingly attempt to cook her a meal. “We finally get to use the kitchen!” Dr. Cullen says.
The wall of the Cullens’ house features a cute mural made up of dozens of the vampires’ high-school graduation caps.
Due to Edward’s chastity, at every point in the movie where you’re expecting a sex scene, the filmmakers are forced to show long sequences of Edward and Bella lying down and staring soulfully at each other. They’re even shot just like sex scenes! It’s impossible to explain just how funny this is onscreen.
It really drives home the book’s overarching message of the dangers of female sexuality when we actually see flushed temptress Bella, late at night in her bedroom, forcing herself upon Edward and the poor innocent vampire flinging himself against a wall to keep himself in check.
When Bella’s mom hears that her daughter has a boyfriend, she demands, “Are you being safe?” We foresee a whole new tie-in line of armor-plated Twilight condoms!
At no point in the movie does this scene occur.
Also, this scene was cut, thank God.
In general, we’re just so relieved that the movie did away with most of the 1,000 scenes in which basically this exact thing happens:
Bella: Don’t go!
Edward: I should go, but I can’t.
Bella: I am happy!
Edward: You’re an idiot for being happy.
Bella: You are still totally gorgeous OMG OMG.
The other vampires - Laurent, Victoria, and James - don’t just appear out of nowhere on page 375 because Stephenie Meyer belatedly realized something needed to happen. They make appearances throughout the movie, hunting and killing humans, which gives the movie not only little bursts of much-needed action but at least a game attempt at some suspense.
There’s an actual fight scene between Edward and James, instead of Bella just passing out and getting told about it later. Mostly it’s just them throwing each other through windows and crap, but in a story that’s totally starved for action it’s nice that they tried.
The movie answers in seconds a burning question the book never bothered to address: Do vampires in Twilight have reflections? Spoiler: Yes, they do!
Uh, Alice jumps onto James and TOTALLY BREAKS HIS NECK!
Movie prom is set in a gorgeous, opulent building with a twinkling gazebo for Edward and Bella’s final dance! Book prom takes place in the gym.
“And so the lion fell in love with the lamb,” Bella says. In the book, you just roll your eyes. In the movie theater, everyone cheers wildly.