Twilight (Blu-ray) (2008)
Audio Commentary-Director and Key Cast
Music Video-Muse, Linkin Park and Paramore
Featurette-Making Of-Seven Part Making of
Featurette-Footage from Comic-Con Launch
|Year Of Production||2008|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Catherine Hardwicke|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
English Linear PCM 48/24 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
††† Dropping off a bunch of hardcore young female Twilight fans at the first local screening of Twilight was like visiting a secret society. There was dark eyeliner aplenty and every t-shirt identified the team affiliation of the wearer- Team Edward, Team Jacob and even the undecided Team Jacward! Nervous giggles and the exquisite pain of anticipation hung in the air.
It is too easy, as many critics have done, to simply dismiss it as a triumphant example of marketing and group mentality. But what is it about Twilight that captured the female imagination?
To be sure, Twilight : the book series, the film, the soundtrack and now the DVD represent the teen phenomenon of the decade and perhaps the most pervasive girl teen phenomenon in living memory. Sure, Iron Man and The Dark Knight sold more tickets but did they really get into the social consciousness and get kids, and those kids at heart, writing on their diaries and school books, with the four Stephanie Meyer novels wedged like badges of acceptance in every locker?
For those without kids or those adults without a pipeline to the social undercurrent the plot of Twilight is no more than a clever riff on the impossible love affair. In writing the books Stephanie Meyer claims that she drew on the classics - Pride and Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummers Night Dream. What is clever is the way that she has drawn on these classical ideas yet brought her tale smack back into the contemporary young female zeitgeist. She does it with desire, albeit repressed and tormented, pulling back from the cynicism draped "whatevers" of current teen fiction. Put Buffy or Juno into this world and it would implode.
Teen Isabella (Bella) Swan ( Kristen Stewart) has moved from living with her mother and her new boyfriend in Phoenix, Arizona to a new life with dad (Billy Burke) in rainy, depressing Forks, Washington. Her dad is the local sheriff and the two communicate at a respectful distance. Her new school is not exactly a nightmare. She makes friends quickly though she sees little to celebrate in her surroundings. At lunch in the cafeteria she sees the enigmatic Cullen kids, who keep very much to themselves. Apparently, they have only been in town a few years. They look ... different. Wan, impossibly beautiful, cool and hip with golden eyes, ruby lips, and an otherworldliness which is swoon inducing.
In an entrance which drew screams of joy at the first screening, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattison), the dreamiest of the dreamy bunch, wanders in leaving a wash of beating hearts in his wake. One glance at Bella and both are transfixed.
True love doesn't run smoothly. In class Bella and Edward sit next to each other but Edward is diffident and Bella gets mixed messages. Does he like her or not? When Edward steps in to save Bella from a freak accident the two become irrevocably bonded. But how did he stop the van from striking her? How did he even get there in time to save her?
These questions may have puzzled the one person in the audience not aware of the Twilight story but everyone else knows the secret - Edward and his family are vampires! Not just vampires but "vegetarian" vampires who drink only from forest animals and steer clear of human blood. It is not any easy abstention, for human blood is intoxicating and life giving!
Edward is drunk on the scent of Bella but scared of what might happen if he loses control of his passion. He is no spring chicken, having been saved from certain death and transformed into the undead in 1916.
Twilight is really two stories - the love affair of Edward and Bella and the protection of Bella and Forks from rogue vampires who have come in to feed on the townspeople and generally create mayhem. These nomads as they are called are led by the buff and cool Laurent (Edi Gathegi from House) partnered by the wicked Victoria (Rachel Lefevre) and the feral James (Cam Gigandet).
In fact, the second story is really just an aspect of the love affair, a tale of devotion and fear intermingled. For any teen girl the hub of the story is the impossible love. Edward is beyond attracted to Bella - he is lost in her scent. But he cannot "love" her without fearing that he will drive her into immortality or worse, dine on her as the perfect meal. He sees himself as a monster with little chance of redemption.
Perhaps the search for the essence of the Twilight success story need go no further. Edward is strong, fast, clever, dependable if brooding (also a teen attractant). All he wants to do is love and protect Bella and yet he demands nothing in return. Although much has been made of Meyer's Mormon faith, as the reason for abstinence being such a central theme of the book and the film, the reality is that it allows girls to keep their idol close, wrapped up in their adoration without sex being demanded from them. It is a lightning bolt conceit in a genre (vampire movies) which has used the neck bite and the caped nightcomer as a powerful sexual image.
Whatever the reason the books have been hugely successful. Critics have attacked her novels including Stephen King for their sloppy prose but anything that gets kids actually enjoying the process of reading is fine by me!
Which brings us back to Twilight, the movie. Meyer had a significant role in the making of the film as well as a cameo as a woman ordering a vegetarian sandwich! Not surprisingly the film is a close replica of the first book. Sure, characters have been combined to bring the doorstopper thick novel down to roughly two hours of screen time. The bad vampires have been brought in earlier as well to give some sense of danger to what is otherwise a very straight and sincere love story. Director Stephanie Hardwicke knows her teens - she directed Lords of Dogtown and, of course, Thirteen. She might not be the greatest of directors but she certainly knows what the target audience wants - long, lingering close ups, cold hands, misty forests and pale faced boys with ruby red lips. Critics who complain that the film is slow are missing the point- that is exactly what fans want.
The leads are pitch perfect. Kristen Stewart is the perfect embodiment of Bella Swan. Angsty, clever, aloof, glum but full of passion for Edward she is the distillation of Meyer's creation and a Gothic heroine if ever there was one. Stewart is a terrific actress who some may remember for her small but important role in Into the Wild. Pattison, Cedric Diggory from the Harry Potter films, is lumped with the thankless role of being every girl's idol. With his teased hair and pale face, looking every bit like a young Robert Smith, he carries the weighty world of desire versus abstinence on his shoulders. The supports are fine. Some like Jacob (Taylor Lautner) will have to wait for the next movie for their chance to shine.
For many fans though it will be moments of the film that are burnt into the psyche - the first entrance of Edward into the cafeteria, the biology class scene, the car crash, the love scene in the meadow and the baseball scene. All are watch again and again material.
. Twilight may be product but it is a genuine and superior product. One of those rare instances where book and screen meet to give fans what they deserve. Cynics won't be converted but those in between might just be surprised at how easily Twilight draws out the young girl in all of us!
††† Twilight was shot on Super 35mm film and presented theatrically at a 2.35:1 aspect ratio.
That ratio has been preserved for the Blu-ray release. The Super 35mm process allows for filming with non-anamorphic lenses with the selected scene simply blown up to the desired ratio. In the past this was productive of a higher level of film grain though the digital intermediate process that is inevitable these days pretty much allows for any desired level of manipulation of grain. The good news for fans who like their films cinematic is that the Blu-ray accurately represents the level of grain in the film as originally presented.
Twilight is a film that has undergone a good deal of post production. The world of Forks is cold and rainy without a blue sky in sight. In the commentary track director Hardwicke describes how CGI was used to create a consistent sense of gloom, such as in the baseball scene. The colour palette is greens and blues with the occasional violent splash of red.
The flesh tones are accurate though the Cullens, and to a certain extent Bella, have a pale pallor with red lips. The Blu-ray does a magnificent job of bringing this palette to the small screen with utmost clarity. The hair strands stand out individually and the image pops nicely.
Any scene could be used to demonstrate the quality of the transfer. Perhaps the restaurant scene around 41.00 and the prom night scene at 110.30 best demonstrate the awesome quality of the product - the first scene showing warmth and colour and the second demonstrating crystal clarity as the individual promenade lights stand out.
There are no defects such as aliasing, compression problems or noticeable edge enhancement.
There are English subtitles which accurately convey the dialogue.
An excellent transfer. Against other Blu-ray titles I rate it a 4 star transfer.
††† The case for the Twilight Blu-ray records the film as having been issued with an English TrueHD 5.1 track. Try as I did, I could not get the film to play in True HD. Interestingly, the track selection screen on the Blu-ray refers only to Dolby Digital 5.1 and Linear PCM 2.0 as well as the 2.0 commentary track. My player does not give bit-rate details so I have assumed the upper bounds of a Dolby Digital track for the 5.1 (640Kb/s) based on the sound performance. So where is the True HD track? Enquiries will be made. Watch this space.
So how does the track sound anyway? Pretty good without being spectacular. The dialogue is clear and the ambience of the film is well represented in the spacious mix. The sub-woofer is used whenever the filmmaker wanted to ramp up the drama or get the heart pounding with some music track.
Dialogue appears to be in perfect audio sync.
The music comes from two sources. The score is by the legendary Carter Burwell who provides an ambient thoughtful score with just enough drive in the action scenes. Burwell is the composer of a multitude of great scores from Fargo to Being John Malkovich to No Country for Old Men. If this score doesn't stand out to the same degree it is perhaps due to the equal screen time given to the music tracks.
Meyer claimed to have been influenced by music in writing the novel and it is fitting that her favourite bands have found their way onto the soundtrack - which has itself been a huge success. Chief amongst the bands is Muse. I would like a dollar for every time kids (and adults) have asked me to identify the music used in the baseball scene - it is Muse's Supermassive Black Hole. As well as Muse there are tracks from Paramore, Robert Pattison himself, Perry Farrell, Linkin Park and even Radiohead. Describing it as an emo soundtrack is probably inviting an old-school tar and feathering but the tone of the music is generally melodic angst ridden rock.
The track is without technical defects.
|Surround Channel Use|
The Twilight Blu-ray contains a host of extras. Unfortunately none of them is in High Definition. That omission extends to the Blu-ray exclusive item, an interview with Stephanie Meyer. To be fair, the fact that these are Standard Definition features is mentioned on the back of the case.
Another disappointment is the excessive load time of the Blu-ray. It takes forever and we are forced to endure the piracy warning as well as three trailers for Seven Pounds, Angels and Demons and The Spirit. I had probelsm skipping them although I could fast forward. Finally, I had a gripe about the menu screen for the film which contains a key moment from the end of the film. Those who hadn't seen it (perhaps there aren't any?) will be disappointed that the "surprise" has been pre-empted.
The stars are intent on having a good time. They are both down to earth individuals. Anyone, perhaps the target audience, approaching this commentary for fun will get exactly what they want. I never thought I would ever hear, in response to Pattison complaining that he had weak hands, his co-star say :" No way, your hands are awesome, dude!"
There are five extended scenes on offer each introduced by the director:
The second includes a bit of munching on the victim and his boat floating aimlessly on the river. The scenes seemed to work better in the shortened form.
Three music videos are included , prefaced with comments from Stephanie Meyer and Catherine Hardwicke and short snippets from the film in which the songs appear. All but Decode are live performances. They are:
The weightiest of the extras is actually a seven part "making of..." feature. The segments are pitched about right to give an insight into the filmmaking process without undue technicality for the target audience as well as providing some behind-the-scenes material and cast and crew interviews. The scenes are as follows:
These extras will satisfy any fan of the film.
Director Catherine Hardwicke introduces these five deleted scenes. The second is really a compilation of bedroom moments and the scenes generally were justly culled. The lengthy scene, described by the director as Kristen Stewarts' favourite, is really just repetition of the ideas from the other scenes about the angst ridden relationship, and from a performance perspective it appears that the actors didn't quite gel. The scenes are fun to watch though. They are:
Anyone wondering whether Twilight is really the phenomenon it is rumoured need look no further than the Comic-Con introduction to the cast and presentation of a snippet from the film. The level of teen girl hysteria is slightly disturbing as the cast (mainly unknown at that time) are given the rock star welcome. The featurette is interesting for this reason although the level of panel discussion is a little disappointing with questions like : What's it like dating a hot vampire? causing some head scratching.
This is touted as a Blu-ray exclusive although a contributor to DVD Compare has suggested that it appears on the Region 1 Target 3 DVD (standard definition) release. That makes sense as it is, like the other features, in standard definition. In an interview interspersed with segments from the film Meyer talks about the origin of the novel. The initial idea it seems was the thought of a vampire and a girl talking in a meadow, a scene which made it into the final book and film. She details her struggle to write the book, with three young children and Blues Clues in the background, and her genuine delight and surprise that it found a publisher. Not surprisingly she is overwhelmed at the reception the book book and film has received. Disappointingly, her faith doesn't get a mention.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
††† The DVD of Twilight has been released worldwide. The Blu-ray is apparently on limited release in Region A until 5 May 2009. There are two releases. Amazon lists a Collectors Edition which includes the standard set as follows:
Blu-ray Disc features:
Real fans may want this edition but be warned. Information available on line suggests that the Region A Edition is region locked! Apparently the Region B release is not locked. Go figure!
For Blu-ray owners with local equipment the Region B release is the only one to go for.
†††If you haven't caught up with the Twilight hype then a Friday night rental is suggested. Fans of the book who own a Blu-ray player have probably already rushed to the local store to buy this product. They won't be disappointed.
The Blu-ray intensifies the filmed experience with excellent visuals and a sonic spectacle that rivals the movie as projected.
The extras are fairly comprehensive and quite consumable by the target audience although the lack of High Definition extras is a pain. About all it did was to show the gap between 576i and 1080p.
|DVD||Pioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output|
|Display||Pioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||JBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer|