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Countdown to TWILIGHT by COOP

Posted on November 18th, 2008
Posted on November 18th, 2008


Initially I underestimated the degree of anticipation for the film adaptation of this blockbuster book series (17 million copies and counting!). Unlike “Harry Potter,” I had never heard of the “Twilight” phenomenon until the first trailer for the film came out this summer. Imagine my surprise when I found out a large number of my friends had been following the series and were eagerly awaiting the film, not to mention the millions of superfans fighting to get tickets to sold out early screenings.

RottenTomatoes.com has yet to report any reviews or any average score for the film, despite the fact it releases on Friday. I’ve heard rumors about a few press screenings taking place tonight, but the filmmakers know it’s in their best interest to keep reviewers in the dark until it releases. With an already built-in fanbase, early negative reviews could wreck their box office returns. It’s not a vote of “no confidence” in the film, but rather a defensive tactic so I don’t blame them for using it.

My tactic for reviewing the film will be to attend a midnight screening on Thursday night (technically Friday morning) and bang out a review to send out before I collapse from exhaustion. A “Twilight” series superfan will attend the screening with me to help fill me in on differences between the movie and the book.

As with every film based off of already popular franchises, several elements need to be addressed in order for the film to please both die hard fans and the uninitiated viewers…

1. Obviously, keep the film true to the source material as much as possible. Something as simple as changing a character from a man to a woman (ala Starbuck from “Battlestar Galactica”) could turn the fans against the film. The danger I see “Twilight” running into is neglecting favorite ancillary characters and favorite book moments due to time constraints. This is one of the trickiest parts of adaptation and hopefully the filmmakers are skilled enough to pull it off.

2. Cast the perfect actors for the leads. Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan hasn’t gotten as much attention as one would expect for scoring the leading role. Are the fans lukewarm to her casting? She does look a bit awkward, even in the posters. However, Robert Pattinson has struck a huge chord with female fans as the vampire Edward Cullen. He can expect many fan stalkers for years to come. Male opinions of him have been less than enthusiastic, with some saying he looks more like a freakishly-chiseled model rather than a real actor. Nick Nunziata of Chud.com posted an inexplicably profane tirade(read at your own risk) against the actor and the film before ever viewing it, enraging fans into boycotting his site. Despite the fans and the curmudgeons, let’s wait to see if Pattinson can act his way out of a wooden box before praising or condemning the guy.

3. Attach a memorable music score/soundtrack to it. I’m not kidding, this can make or break a movie. John Williams nailed the “Harry Potter” score, creating one of the most memorable tunes in decades. Likewise, Hans Zimmer and his scores for “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight.” Filmmakers have gone a 1980’s route by attaching songs by popular bands and releasing the soundtrack before the film. This is a nice touch and possibly an excellent marketing move, but as history (and “Pretty in Pink”) has taught us, pop soundtracks can make the film seem dated after only a couple of years. Visit “Twilight’s” soundtrack blog for more info on the songs, especially the much hyped “Bella’s Lullaby” mentioned in the novel.

4. Get a director with a vision. Linking Christopher Nolan and the Batman franchise proved to be a stroke of genius as he created a fresh new feel for the caped crusader. Jon Favreau did the same for “Iron Man.” Alfonso Cuaron gave the Harry Potter franchise an edge with “Prisoner of Azkaban.” Producers may have done the same for “Twilight” by employing Catherine Hardwicke, the former production designer who garnered critical acclaim for her 2003 teen-angst drama “Thirteen.” Hopefully she has the skill to keep the material from lapsing into a cheesy, soapy melodrama.

I have to admit, after watching media coverage of the “Twilight” premiere in Hollywood last night, I got a bit intimidated by the fanaticism of the die hard fans. Some of them flew in from other parts of the country just to stalk… eh, see the stars of the film. There have already been reports of near-rioting and mobs of screaming fans at festival junkets and “meet the stars” events. Could it really be that great? I’ll let you know on Friday. In the meantime, here’s the trailer to tide you fans over…

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