The REAL Cast of the Twilight Saga
I read the Twilight Saga only months before the first installment appeared onscreen, having been directed toward the books by a coworker. I absolutely loved the books, and after reading the first one (which had been loaned to me), I had to immediately buy the other three and promptly read them. Since I enjoyed the books so much, I was looking forward to seeing the book-turned-movie although movies more often than not are a tremendous disappointment when compared to their in-print counterparts.
Needless to say, the movies have been true to form as far as books-turned-movies go...disappointing. While the adaptation into eyecandy hasn't been much of a disaster, the chosen cast has left much to be desired. Perhaps the selection of pasty cardboard pretenders was intentional given the vampiric theme?
I'll start with Kristen Stewart as Bella, since she is perhaps the entire reason any semi-intelligent afficionado of the Twilight books should heartily refrain from seeing the movies. Kristen's portrayal of Bella definitely lets you know she hasn't read a single sentence of any of the books, since her version of Bella is presented with about as much enthusiasm as one would display were they to be the recipient of a crushed glass enema delivered via sewer drainage pipelines and flushed out with hydrochloric acid. Sure, Bella is a somewhat moody and displaced angsty teenage female full of rampant hormonal discord...but in the books, Bella DID smile occasionally. In the books, Bella's "freak out" over Edward leaving her (potentially forever) was certainly more emotional and fraught with hysterical melodrama than Kristen's half-hearted "What...you're leaving? Gee, that sucks," presentation.
Let's scoot on over to Robert Pattinson, who plays Edward, the leading male vampire in the books/movies. Edward as a book vampire is much more seductively scintillating than Pattinson's apathetic portrayal. I'd wager he, too, hasn't turned a page in the book series. Pattinson does give a bit more "oomph" to his performance than Kristen, at least...thereby slightly salvaging the disastrous tedium of sitting through hours of Stewart butchering Bella's Edward/Jacob conundrum. I liked Pattinson much more as Cedric Diggory in the Harry Potter movies, personally, but he's definitely got the "I'm so depressed because I've been a social outcast bloodsucker for centuries" melancholy down pat.
Onward now to Taylor Lautner, who plays Jacob, Bella's other "love" and teenage werewolf of the Twilight realm. He's less than impressive with the long locks of flowing black hair, but he becomes more entertaining (and definitely better to look at) with a close-cropped 'do and his perpetually barechested cavorting. He did an acceptable job in his role.
That's the trifecta for the Twilight series, and the ones that get the most press coverage, usually in the form of frantic rave reviews about the majesty of their performances. How much did they pay for that ass-kissery? But beyond Kristen, Robert, and Taylor there is a huge cast of underplayed TALENT that barely gets recognized when any mention of Twilight is made, so they will get mentioned here.
My favorites are the girl who played Alice, the guy who played Jasper, and Dakota Fanning as Jane, a bloodsucking mindfreak pet of the Italian vampire mafia.
In the books, Alice is utterly likeable from the moment you are first introduced to her, and her quirky and charismatic character only continues to enchant and entertain as the storyline progresses. The woman who portrays her in the movies did a fine job, although Alice's ability to foresee future events seems sadly downplayed on-screen.
The young man who plays Jasper is utterly entertaining simply because he says so little, for the most part. He's a quiet force in the background, rarely seen or heard unless he's saying or doing something that is worth your attention. As with Alice, his vampiric "talents" are also downplayed, to the detriment of the overall effect of the movies.
Dakota Fanning is absolutely amazing in ANY role she undertakes, and although Jane is a very minor character in the movies (more so than in the books), Dakota's performance is par the course for any of her work. I've been a fan since I saw her in I Am Sam with Sean Penn, and my favorite Dakota movie is Man on Fire with Denzel Washington. She's brilliant, talented, and - in my opinion - SHE would've been infintely better as Bella.
So who should've played the leading roles? As previously stated, Dakota Fanning would've been award-worthy as Bella, and would've put Kristen Stewart's sorry attempts at acting to shame. Kendall Jenner would've likely done a better job, too, and would've been far more enchanting to look at for hours at a time. Natalie Portman is in the Top Five for who should've been Bella, as well. For Edward...the young man who played Prince Caspian in the Chronicles of Narnia would've been a better choice, I'm sure, but given his darker complexion, he also might've been suitable for the role of Jacob. Chris Pine (Star Trek and Unstoppable) would've worked well as Edward...heck, Timothy Olyphant, Jeremy Renner, or Edward Norton could've pulled it off, too, and they're probably old enough to have kids that are in high school.
It's sad that Stewart and Pattinson have become overnight sensations for their unprovocative and emotionally flatlined portrayals of characters in a movie series that has done a mediocre job of conveying book-to-screen imagery. Yes, the books were wonderful. No, the movies weren't...and definitely NO, the acting abilities of the two lead stars is certainly not worth all the hype.