Movie Review – Twilight

It’s the movie everyone is talking about: Twilight.

So what is it about this movie that has half of the 12-30 year age group of females wildly excited?

Maybe a guy in his 30’s isn’t the best judge.

Anyway, unless you’ve been under a rock (considering the economy, it may be more secure than your mortgage), Twilight is based off the first book in the best-selling series by Stephenie Meyer. First, the quick summary to make sure we’re all on the same page. Seventeen year old Bella moves to Forks, WA, to live with her dad in the wettest, cloudiest place in the US. While adjusting to a new school, she meets Edward Cullen, a very handsome boy who at turns shuns her and acts interested in her. Her dogged pursuit reveals his secret: that he is a vampire, part of a “family” of vampires that only drinks the blood of animals so they don’t have to be killers. Edward is drawn to Bella both in love and to the scent of her blood, fighting his natural urges. As Bella and Edward explore their relationship and she is immersed in this strange new world, other forces enter their lives that threaten all they are trying to build.

How’s the movie? It isn’t as good as the book (when is a movie ever?). It stays pretty true to the book, so fans of the series should be pleased overall. The director tries to visually create a mood with filtered shots and lots of dreamy/vexed/glaring looks by the love-struck couple. The movie slows down at times due to this, but doesn’t bog down. There are hints of suspense interspersed enough to move things along.

The actors who play Bella and Edward have some chemistry, but it wasn’t enough to convince me of their resolve to press forward into such an unorthodox relationship. Kristin Stewart (Bella) portrays teenage awkwardness well and anchors the movie, although she is asked to pose gaping way too often. Robert Pattinson (Edward) is charismatic enough, but he isn’t always an imposing, remarkable figure. I don’t know whether to blame the screenwriters or the actors. Other characters like Alice are under-utilized, but I’m sure it’s hard to compress a long novel into two hours.

There’s been some controversy about the novel and movie, both in regular reviews and specifically Christian reviews. One general complaint is that Edward has stalker tendencies, since he watches Bella as she sleeps and always seems to be around. This is shown in the movie somewhat, but it doesn’t come across as creepy. My 12 year old niece picked right up on it and recognized that’s not a good trait for a boyfriend. The couple only kisses passionately a couple of times, but there is a lot of restraint, even though once they talk late into the night and she ends up sleeping and cuddling up to him (no nudity or intercourse).

Spiritually, there are obvious concerns about the whole concept of a vampire and drinking blood to sustain life. I’ve read blogs that point out the perversion this idea makes of Christ’s sacrifice for us and the sacrament of wine specifically. Personally, if I can accept the idea of an impersonal Force in Star Wars and random mutation and evolution in the X-men series as acceptable platforms for story-telling, then I don’t have a problem with vampires. I understand the above criticism, but it doesn’t strike me as blasphemous.

With the specific story, there are positives. Edward’s family is “vegetarian”, meaning they have learned to survive on animals. They hold to their promises to the local Native American tribe, and they back each other up. They work hard to protect Bella when danger arises, and Bella is willing to sacrifice herself to save a loved one.

Overall the movie was enjoyable, and it was fun to see it in the theatre (although it exposed some weak special effects). I’ve seen other reviews that state the movie will appeal to fans of the book and not bring in the uninitiated. Since I’d read the books, I can’t judge very well. They may not have created enough magic as the book’s author, Stephenie Meyer, did. My niece hadn’t read them and enjoyed it, even not being one for romance (tomboy has her picture next to it in the dictionary). There’s probably not enough explosions to draw a hard-core male audience, but it is a good introduction into a new world (ready for the already announced sequel). Using discernment is always needed, as writers and directors always have some form of agenda, but it is not a scandalous movie that need be feared and shunned. If you have a pre-teen or teen who is prone to becoming too emotionally involved with something, then Twilight is a bad choice. If they have some judgment, then it can create some interesting discussion.

Stars? If I had ’em, probably a 3 1/2 out of 5.

Movie Review – Twilight

It’s the movie everyone is talking about: Twilight.

So what is it about this movie that has half of the 12-30 year age group of females wildly excited?

Maybe a guy in his 30’s isn’t the best judge.

Anyway, unless you’ve been under a rock (considering the economy, it may be more secure than your mortgage), Twilight is based off the first book in the best-selling series by Stephenie Meyer. First, the quick summary to make sure we’re all on the same page. Seventeen year old Bella moves to Forks, WA, to live with her dad in the wettest, cloudiest place in the US. While adjusting to a new school, she meets Edward Cullen, a very handsome boy who at turns shuns her and acts interested in her. Her dogged pursuit reveals his secret: that he is a vampire, part of a “family” of vampires that only drinks the blood of animals so they don’t have to be killers. Edward is drawn to Bella both in love and to the scent of her blood, fighting his natural urges. As Bella and Edward explore their relationship and she is immersed in this strange new world, other forces enter their lives that threaten all they are trying to build.

How’s the movie? It isn’t as good as the book (when is a movie ever?). It stays pretty true to the book, so fans of the series should be pleased overall. The director tries to visually create a mood with filtered shots and lots of dreamy/vexed/glaring looks by the love-struck couple. The movie slows down at times due to this, but doesn’t bog down. There are hints of suspense interspersed enough to move things along.

The actors who play Bella and Edward have some chemistry, but it wasn’t enough to convince me of their resolve to press forward into such an unorthodox relationship. Kristin Stewart (Bella) portrays teenage awkwardness well and anchors the movie, although she is asked to pose gaping way too often. Robert Pattinson (Edward) is charismatic enough, but he isn’t always an imposing, remarkable figure. I don’t know whether to blame the screenwriters or the actors. Other characters like Alice are under-utilized, but I’m sure it’s hard to compress a long novel into two hours.

There’s been some controversy about the novel and movie, both in regular reviews and specifically Christian reviews. One general complaint is that Edward has stalker tendencies, since he watches Bella as she sleeps and always seems to be around. This is shown in the movie somewhat, but it doesn’t come across as creepy. My 12 year old niece picked right up on it and recognized that’s not a good trait for a boyfriend. The couple only kisses passionately a couple of times, but there is a lot of restraint, even though once they talk late into the night and she ends up sleeping and cuddling up to him (no nudity or intercourse).

Spiritually, there are obvious concerns about the whole concept of a vampire and drinking blood to sustain life. I’ve read blogs that point out the perversion this idea makes of Christ’s sacrifice for us and the sacrament of wine specifically. Personally, if I can accept the idea of an impersonal Force in Star Wars and random mutation and evolution in the X-men series as acceptable platforms for story-telling, then I don’t have a problem with vampires. I understand the above criticism, but it doesn’t strike me as blasphemous.

With the specific story, there are positives. Edward’s family is “vegetarian”, meaning they have learned to survive on animals. They hold to their promises to the local Native American tribe, and they back each other up. They work hard to protect Bella when danger arises, and Bella is willing to sacrifice herself to save a loved one.

Overall the movie was enjoyable, and it was fun to see it in the theatre (although it exposed some weak special effects). I’ve seen other reviews that state the movie will appeal to fans of the book and not bring in the uninitiated. Since I’d read the books, I can’t judge very well. They may not have created enough magic as the book’s author, Stephenie Meyer, did. My niece hadn’t read them and enjoyed it, even not being one for romance (tomboy has her picture next to it in the dictionary). There’s probably not enough explosions to draw a hard-core male audience, but it is a good introduction into a new world (ready for the already announced sequel). Using discernment is always needed, as writers and directors always have some form of agenda, but it is not a scandalous movie that need be feared and shunned. If you have a pre-teen or teen who is prone to becoming too emotionally involved with something, then Twilight is a bad choice. If they have some judgment, then it can create some interesting discussion.

Stars? If I had ’em, probably a 3 1/2 out of 5.

Vampires in Christian Fiction

If you missed the first post, there were very good comments related to vampires and such in Christian fiction. One of the commenters was Sue Dent, who wrote the mentioned Never Ceese novel.

Evangeline noted my objective take on it – thanks. I was trying to present it evenly to see what people came up with before I threw in my own 2 cents. There are a few different facets to this discussion, so I don’t think it is a simple “yes it is eviiiiiil” or “no, there’s no problem”.

Sue brought out the importance of defining what is meant by Christian fiction. I was referring to the notion of the CBA/ECPA. As Sue noted, this is an umbrella group that is responsible for a certain type of “Christian fiction”, a type that usually gets ownership of that moniker. It is evangelical and conservative in outlook, and there are certain unwritten rules with these type of rules: no cussing, no sex (unless in marriage, and not on page), and as Sue mentioned, certain literary images like vampires, werewolves, etc., would not be generally welcome. (Oddly enough, you can have mass murderers, super assassins, and a high body count, but that’s another post…) “CBA” is almost a brand, but religious or Christian books are not limited to it. Very prominent examples of non-CBA Christian books would be the award-winning Gilead and Peace Like a River, and Sue’s novels. So you likely wouldn’t find a vampire novel in a Christian bookstore due to the CBA, as Sue mentions.

Evangeline talked about vampires as good objects for symbolism, metaphors, or allegory. This could potentially be a worthy use of the undead in CBA fiction. It would take a compelling author with a bold statement of faith to pull it off, likely.

Carole had interesting, thoughtful insights about the possibility of salvation for vampires, based on whether they were “fallen” men or demons. She also notes that vampires often act as a “bad boy” for the good girl to redeem, which might be a little prejudiced toward the “hot male vampires” LOL.

What are my thoughts? Jumbled as usual. I’ll list some out.

1. Regarding the Twilight series specifically, I have finished Twilight and am almost done with New Moon. I share Evangline’s concern about the sensualness of the series – even though Meyers keeps the clothes on and the physical touching limited to arms and faces, she still has a gift for romance and sexual tension. I wouldn’t want a young daughter of mine to read them. I also don’t like that Bella’s desire for immortality comes from wanting to become a vampire like Edward, over God’s ways.

2. We discussed the Twilight series in a home group/Bible study. A few people automatically didn’t like the idea of some many kids reading about vampires and werewolves, considering them evil and demonic, and wondering if Christians should be opening themselves up to such influences. I remember reading Dracula for high school, and my pastor’s wife cautioned me to be prayed up for it, as she read it and felt darkness from it. Considering the Twilight series, I told the group I couldn’t judge it without reading it for myself.

3. I have experienced evil influence from entertainment before. I used to play Dungeons and Dragons with friends around 9th-10th grade. We didn’t go for real heavy use of demons (mostly orcs and the like, Lord of the Ring-ish) and we always made our characters religion “Christian” on the player sheet. Still, it got to us. We had a sleep over one night where we got pretty freaked out with some weird stuff going on. I was the first to leave the group, feeling it was a bad situation. After this these good friends turned on me and I had some bad experiences with them. I wouldn’t be against any role-playing game, but I would not want my kids to play D&D specifically.

4. I have argued before for freedom for a Christian artist to produce the art they feel they should make. I wouldn’t condemn a Christian for using elements that I felt uncomfortable with, but I would use discernment whether it would be something for me to partake in or not.

5. Vampires and other mythological, typically evil creatures should be used carefully, but I think there is room for them to be used in a conscientious manner. I can’t help thinking of C.S. Lewis using witches, giants, the Greek god Bacchus, and other pagan-type supernatural events in his stories. A modern master of using the supernatural for a truly Godly end is Stephen Lawhead in many of his books.

6. Are vampires in essence a perversion of the gospel with their life coming from stealing the blood of people, as opposed to the life-giving power of the blood of Christ? This just came to me while writing this post – don’t know if I have the answer.

I think that’s more than enough to chew on for now. I’ll let y’all sink your teeth into it (grooooan).

Vampires in Christian Fiction

If you missed the first post, there were very good comments related to vampires and such in Christian fiction. One of the commenters was Sue Dent, who wrote the mentioned Never Ceese novel.

Evangeline noted my objective take on it – thanks. I was trying to present it evenly to see what people came up with before I threw in my own 2 cents. There are a few different facets to this discussion, so I don’t think it is a simple “yes it is eviiiiiil” or “no, there’s no problem”.

Sue brought out the importance of defining what is meant by Christian fiction. I was referring to the notion of the CBA/ECPA. As Sue noted, this is an umbrella group that is responsible for a certain type of “Christian fiction”, a type that usually gets ownership of that moniker. It is evangelical and conservative in outlook, and there are certain unwritten rules with these type of rules: no cussing, no sex (unless in marriage, and not on page), and as Sue mentioned, certain literary images like vampires, werewolves, etc., would not be generally welcome. (Oddly enough, you can have mass murderers, super assassins, and a high body count, but that’s another post…) “CBA” is almost a brand, but religious or Christian books are not limited to it. Very prominent examples of non-CBA Christian books would be the award-winning Gilead and Peace Like a River, and Sue’s novels. So you likely wouldn’t find a vampire novel in a Christian bookstore due to the CBA, as Sue mentions.

Evangeline talked about vampires as good objects for symbolism, metaphors, or allegory. This could potentially be a worthy use of the undead in CBA fiction. It would take a compelling author with a bold statement of faith to pull it off, likely.

Carole had interesting, thoughtful insights about the possibility of salvation for vampires, based on whether they were “fallen” men or demons. She also notes that vampires often act as a “bad boy” for the good girl to redeem, which might be a little prejudiced toward the “hot male vampires” LOL.

What are my thoughts? Jumbled as usual. I’ll list some out.

1. Regarding the Twilight series specifically, I have finished Twilight and am almost done with New Moon. I share Evangline’s concern about the sensualness of the series – even though Meyers keeps the clothes on and the physical touching limited to arms and faces, she still has a gift for romance and sexual tension. I wouldn’t want a young daughter of mine to read them. I also don’t like that Bella’s desire for immortality comes from wanting to become a vampire like Edward, over God’s ways.

2. We discussed the Twilight series in a home group/Bible study. A few people automatically didn’t like the idea of some many kids reading about vampires and werewolves, considering them evil and demonic, and wondering if Christians should be opening themselves up to such influences. I remember reading Dracula for high school, and my pastor’s wife cautioned me to be prayed up for it, as she read it and felt darkness from it. Considering the Twilight series, I told the group I couldn’t judge it without reading it for myself.

3. I have experienced evil influence from entertainment before. I used to play Dungeons and Dragons with friends around 9th-10th grade. We didn’t go for real heavy use of demons (mostly orcs and the like, Lord of the Ring-ish) and we always made our characters religion “Christian” on the player sheet. Still, it got to us. We had a sleep over one night where we got pretty freaked out with some weird stuff going on. I was the first to leave the group, feeling it was a bad situation. After this these good friends turned on me and I had some bad experiences with them. I wouldn’t be against any role-playing game, but I would not want my kids to play D&D specifically.

4. I have argued before for freedom for a Christian artist to produce the art they feel they should make. I wouldn’t condemn a Christian for using elements that I felt uncomfortable with, but I would use discernment whether it would be something for me to partake in or not.

5. Vampires and other mythological, typically evil creatures should be used carefully, but I think there is room for them to be used in a conscientious manner. I can’t help thinking of C.S. Lewis using witches, giants, the Greek god Bacchus, and other pagan-type supernatural events in his stories. A modern master of using the supernatural for a truly Godly end is Stephen Lawhead in many of his books.

6. Are vampires in essence a perversion of the gospel with their life coming from stealing the blood of people, as opposed to the life-giving power of the blood of Christ? This just came to me while writing this post – don’t know if I have the answer.

I think that’s more than enough to chew on for now. I’ll let y’all sink your teeth into it (grooooan).

Dragons to Vampires

Two weeks ago the Christian Sci-fi and Fantasy blog tour featured DragonLight by Donita K. Paul. The question was raised if dragons were an acceptable subject matter for Christian fiction authors. I had some good response, and everyone seemed to agree that dragons could be used as good or evil depending on context and not contradicting something clear in the Bible.

My question of the week plays off of this topic and the hot book for the weekend – the fourth book in the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, Breaking Dawn. For those who have been in a cave recently, the Twilight series is the hottest thing in youth fiction that has crossed boundaries into all ages. It features a love story between teens Bella and Edward. Bella is a clumsy, ordinary girl, while Edward is a typical hero – fantastically beautiful, pleasantly scented, and he’s a vampire. Oh, that last part may not be so typical…

The question: Can vampires or related creatures (werewolves, etc.) be a viable component of Christian fiction? Specifically, can vampires be considered good? Would it be acceptable to have “Christian” vampires?

Is there a conflict with vampires generally considered from an evil origin? If they are undead, how can they fit in a worldview that entails heaven and hell?

I didn’t realize until searching Amazon for this post how many vampire novels are out there. I know of one considered Christian: Never Ceese, by Sue Dent, who had werewolf and vampire leads. I didn’t read it when it was featured for a blog tour, I just posted the promotional info. Apparently there is a sequel (Forever Richard) coming out soon.

What say you? I just started reading Twilight, so I am far from knowing what Meyer does with the characters, and I haven’t really thought about this before. Can it be done? Should it be done? Fantasy has the advantage of being able to re-write rules when world-building, but are there rules for Christian fiction that shouldn’t be crossed, other than heresy and explicit depictions of sin?

(BTW, my wife happened to be at our local Barnes and Noble on Friday night when the release party for Breaking Dawn was going on. Wow. There were a ton of folks, with many girls and young women decked out in prom outfits or Gothic/black clothing, along with the scattered classic vampire. For sleepy Idaho Falls, there was a lot of interest. Quite the stir caused by a stay-at-home mom in Arizona!)

Dragons to Vampires

Two weeks ago the Christian Sci-fi and Fantasy blog tour featured DragonLight by Donita K. Paul. The question was raised if dragons were an acceptable subject matter for Christian fiction authors. I had some good response, and everyone seemed to agree that dragons could be used as good or evil depending on context and not contradicting something clear in the Bible.

My question of the week plays off of this topic and the hot book for the weekend – the fourth book in the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, Breaking Dawn. For those who have been in a cave recently, the Twilight series is the hottest thing in youth fiction that has crossed boundaries into all ages. It features a love story between teens Bella and Edward. Bella is a clumsy, ordinary girl, while Edward is a typical hero – fantastically beautiful, pleasantly scented, and he’s a vampire. Oh, that last part may not be so typical…

The question: Can vampires or related creatures (werewolves, etc.) be a viable component of Christian fiction? Specifically, can vampires be considered good? Would it be acceptable to have “Christian” vampires?

Is there a conflict with vampires generally considered from an evil origin? If they are undead, how can they fit in a worldview that entails heaven and hell?

I didn’t realize until searching Amazon for this post how many vampire novels are out there. I know of one considered Christian: Never Ceese, by Sue Dent, who had werewolf and vampire leads. I didn’t read it when it was featured for a blog tour, I just posted the promotional info. Apparently there is a sequel (Forever Richard) coming out soon.

What say you? I just started reading Twilight, so I am far from knowing what Meyer does with the characters, and I haven’t really thought about this before. Can it be done? Should it be done? Fantasy has the advantage of being able to re-write rules when world-building, but are there rules for Christian fiction that shouldn’t be crossed, other than heresy and explicit depictions of sin?

(BTW, my wife happened to be at our local Barnes and Noble on Friday night when the release party for Breaking Dawn was going on. Wow. There were a ton of folks, with many girls and young women decked out in prom outfits or Gothic/black clothing, along with the scattered classic vampire. For sleepy Idaho Falls, there was a lot of interest. Quite the stir caused by a stay-at-home mom in Arizona!)