If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Why do I say that? Is it because of my opinion of the source material? No, not at all really. I say that the film is trash because it only appeals to those in the preexisting fan-base and no one else, and that alone makes it a shitty adaptation. A good adaptation of a property does more than please the converted. It brings what made the material appealing to a new audience, and pulls them in expanding the audience. Twilight not only doesn't do that, but doesn't seem to have any interest in doing so. The marketing says differently but the movie itself is modeled in a manner to please the initiated. There is even a cameo appearance from the author (I won’t tell you where since the movie practically points her out for you) that adds nothing to the film and would matter to no one but the die-hard fan (before you think to harp on the Stan Lee cameos in Marvel movies, know three things – one: you’re right, two: this is a tu quoque argument* that proves nothing, and three: he’s actually earned it). Everything from the pacing of the narrative to the shallow casting and subsequent performances point to a lack of interest in making a generally good movie. If you weren't a fan of the books, then this movie practically gave you its ass to kiss. Well, fuck you too movie...
When you call Twilight a failed adaptation, I respectfully disagree.
Firstly, you define a good adaptation as being only one that can do more than preach to the converted. Please note for a moment how often Hollywood does indeed preach to the converted, by which I mean makes movies to sell to pre-established audiences. Surely the Twilight movies apply, but so do superhero movies, movies about famous historical figures, movies about famous fictional characters (Conan, Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, Cinderella, etc.) as does every sequel, remake, and prequel in film history.Many adaptations by their very nature are made to reach an audience that is familiar with the source material. Twilight is a successful adaptation in that it is geared to please the sizable fanbase of the book series.
Perhaps a more ambitious adaptation would have sought to reach further than this, but I can't blame the makers of these movies for playing things safe. This is, after all, a franchise, and franchises must be preserved by their holders to guarantee the maximum amount of wealth that can be drawn from them. Twilight the film isn't about art or about making a statement. It is about making money. It is product. On those grounds alone, the movie Twilight must be considered a successful adaptation, as it did raise awareness of said product.
Secondly, the very fact that you're sickened by this movie suggests to me that the adaptation was spot-on, seeing as how utterly nausiating and vapid the book Twilight really was. When you have a book where there is no tension, barely any plot, and characters never grow or develop, you're bound to get a movie with no tension, barely any plot, and no character development. Simply, your beef doesn't seem to be so much with the film adaptation as much as it is with the sheer awfulness of the source material. If the movie made you feel the same kind of nausia the book did, then you cannot call the movie a bad adaptation. A recreation of shit is still shit.
Thirdly, you yourself point out places where the movie improves on the source material. I won't bother to go into detail here, because you have already noted each improvement flawlessly. (I won't say "perfectly" or "beautifully" for fear of sounding too much like Stephanie Meyer when I write this!)
Lastly, I agree that Robert Pattinson 's performance recieved too much credit, but I also think that it recieves too much blame as well. I think Leon nailed it when he likened the acting in the Twilight films to that of the Star Wars prequels. Competent acting can become awful acting if the dialogue and/or the direction fail. You're right that Pattinson does indeed look like a potential date-rapist. This is to be expected, as Edward Cullen behaves like a creepy stalker throughout the book series. The looks he gives that suggest reading the script may have made him throw up in his mouth a little are equally understandable. Wouldn't you be more than a little queasy if you had to repeat lines from that wretched book in front of a camera?
I hope that you will continue exploring your original thesis, writing about all the other bulleted points you have here in your overview. I for one would enjoy reading the rest of them.
Wow...For starters, I'd like to say Hi and thanks for this reminder of how odd the internet can be at times.
This is odd seeing as how my sentiment, while mostly unchanged, has expanded in a few respects since 2 years ago. I do still feel that a decent adaptation does more than just bring a familiar property to the audience that already knows and loves it. Otherwise, what's the point of even making a movie out of a well-known book, TV series, comic, or game? I think anyone that follows film news or has any interest in it knows that the mainstream studio system these days is all but completely rooted in the practice of farming familiar brands for profit. It wasn't so obvious in '09, but there's no way you can't see it today. That's the reason there are 5 Twilight films. But I didn't read Scott Pilgrim, and the movie made me want to as well as buy the video game (which is awesome). I've never flipped a single page of a Harry Potter book, but neither had my little sister UNTIL she watched one of the movies. That's what a good adaptation can do. Even if success is to be measured only by box office returns, Twilight is not that impressive. Each movie has had what can be called a front-loaded success rate. The opening weekend sees high numbers, but the drop in the following days is steeper than most other films. I don't think any of the Twilight movies have ever a) faced legitimate competition at the box office (Seriously, Eclipse was the only one released in a competitive season, and it went against The Last Airbender...) or b) held the #1 spot for more than one week. That says a lot about its staying power as it fails to reach new audiences or keep all of the existing one for any respectable amount of time. Hence my assessment...I don't care about financial success enough for it to trump the obvious: Twilight sucks on several levels.
I did eventually finish this, and I'm pretty sure I posted it on Spill as a blog (again, years ago now). I probably would edit and rephrase a few finer points here and there (partially due to knowing a few more things and one too many girls with a distorted view of romantic love that unironically love Twilight). It's very true that Robert Pattinson is the Hayden Christensen of this franchise. The material truly sucks and it leaves the cast and crew hanging out to dry. He does still manage to be awful though, even if he's not the worst in these movies. Almost needless to say, but there is a lot wrong with this franchise and I could go on for days deconstructing all of it. Some people already have. If you can't find my blog on my page, I recommend Harris' Doctor Nerdlove entry on Twilight as well as Film Critic Hulk's article on Badass Digest to get a better idea of my standing. They say much of what I had to say in my blog while expanding on points that I recall glossing over or ignoring.
Thanks for reading my responce and answering it so quickly. Thank you also for accepting my friend request. As for the two-year time lapse, I'm fairly new to Spill and am only now reaching out to the community, joining groups, viewing other people's pages, and chiming in where I think it's apropriate to do so. I wrote a response here because I respected what you had to say and wanted to suggest a differing (though not opposing) point-of-view.
I'll check out your blog when time permits. Don't be suprised if I comment there as well. If that blog is as insightful as the above, I'm sure I'm in for a good time.
I'd like to see this Twilight nonsense die (and it will, given time) but unfortunately that won't hapen until Breaking Dawn has been adapted and filmed and screened in it's entirety. God help us all.