Yeah, I thought I'd just cut to the chase here. I'm a book lover and almost always fall into the "book is better than the movie" camp. I think most people do because in a book, there's more room for narration, for exposition on character and motivation and scene descriptions, and there's flexibility in how we might interpret a scene. In a movie, there's less of those things.
Mostly, that limits our scope of imagination and I think it's why most people prefer books to movies (well, if they're reading types).
Sometimes, the movie works better than the book. I think that feels like the case if you see the movie before reading the book, or if the movie is actually made before the book (this happened with "Back to the Future"!! The movie with MJF was SOOOO much better).
Very occasionally, the movie is still better than the book even if you read the book first. The experience of the universe the book introduces is actually richer, more subtle, more poignant, more real onscreen than on the page. It's not often for me, but it's happened now.
Yep, I Netflixed and watched Twilight the movie and really enjoyed it. MUCH more than the books.
The movie left out a lot of the repetitive, inane and sexist crap (not all, but most). James Wolcott wisely points out that the movie also shovels away the truckloads upon truckloads of Bella's internal narrative that makes the books such hefty doorstops. And there aren't scenes with Bella making dinner for her father Every Single Night. And the diversity in the movie was notable; I was pretty impressed with the thoughtful casting.
Often high school students are portrayed as pure stereotypes, which is annoying. But I found these characters to be a bit closer to truth-- a little gawkier, a little less perfect than actors playing high school students usually play it. I liked that.
This may seem like a small point, but I wish there was more acknowledgment that the scene with Edward and Bella at the top of the tree is EXACTLY like the shots of Julia Butterfly Hill at the top of Luna. They were talking in the commentary about how the stunt doubles were nearly blown off the tree from backwash off the helicopter, which is something that happened to Hill. Wish they knew about Julia's accomplishment to credit it in the commentary.
I'll also say:
- the glittery skin was not as cheesy in the movie as it sounds in the book
- the baseball scene, which sounded really cheesy in the book, was done pretty well. They had some great, loud, thrashy music in the background that really fit with the XTreme Baseball. (And Robert Pattinson in the commentary properly acknowledges the difficulty in looking tough in an adorable striped baseball jersey and coiffed hair.)
- the talking and cuddling after the one (pretty chaste) kiss was Perfect Teenage Daydream Fodder
All in all, I thought this was a well-done effort that definitely improved on the book, and am sorry Catherine Hardwick isn't doing New Moon, which apparently is much more action oriented. This isn't a Film For The Ages, but it's watchable. Recommended if you're looking to fill some time on a Wednesday evening, and/or if you're into teen movies.