There are four reasons I thought a movie of Twilight would be better than the book and all of them proved to be true:
1: The time constraints on a movie would cut out all the repetitious, rambling, empty filler in the book and get straight to the meat of the story.
2: A picture is worth a thousand words and since a thousand of Stephanie Meyers' words were "glare," "gorgeous," "perfect" and "chagrin," I figured the story could only be vastly improved by showing instead of telling.
3: Since Meyers' idea of character development doesn't seem to go beyond describing what people's hair looks like, I thought actors would be able to give the characters a little more substance to grab onto.
4. A movie would get the story out of Bella's first-person narrative so we could watch the story without it being filtered through an impenetrable veil of "OMG EDWARD IS TEH HOTT!!!1!"
See, I started out reading Twilight genuinely wanting to like it. I wanted to go on a fantasy adventure and fall in love with Edward Cullen and make him mix tapes and gay out on some vampire high-jinks, but I felt like I was thwarted at every turn. Every time a new character or intriguing question or potentially interesting conflict was introduced, it was never really followed through or fleshed out or given any interesting insight. As a reader, I felt constantly blueballed (and not just because there was no sex.) Never has a book made me so badly want to write fanfic, if only because I wanted to fix everything wrong with it.
I got the feeling that the filmmakers felt the same way, because everything that the movie changed from the book made the story better. New York Magazine did a whole slideshow thing on why the movie is better than the book, which I mostly agree with. Everything in the movie that was funny on purpose? It wasn't in the book. You have the screenwriter to thank.
I was optimistic about Catherine Hardwicke as director because I thought Thirteen was a compelling and believable movie about teenagers, so I thought she could take the one-dimensional Twilight characters and real 'em up a little. I think she did the best job she could. Bella's high school friends were all much more fun in the movie than the book and Bella seemed realer and smarter.
Mostly, though, I left the theater loving Robert Pattinson TO THE MAX for what he did to Edward. While the book relentlessly emphasizes how suave and gorgeous and perfect and dazzling Edward is, Robert Pattinson plays him as kind of an awkward, twitchy weirdo who's borderline psychotic and occasionally a whiny little bitch. What this tells me about Pattinson, as an actor, is that he really put some thought into the character. I mean, Stephanie Meyer was trying to make him this ultimate romanceturbation hero who she keeps trying to tell us is nonstop dreamy 24/7, but (as many have pointed out) a lot of the stuff he does in the book is kinda creepy, stalkerish, self-loathing, condescending, crazy-mood-swingy and borderline abusive. On top of that, he's a guy who's been 17 for 100 years and never had a girlfriend... and then he starts liking a girl who he is fighting a primal urge to kill every time he's around her. Honestly, that guy would not be suave. That guy would be an awkward, twitchy weirdo who's borderline psychotic and occasionally a whiny little bitch. It's like Robert Pattinson "got" the character more than it's own creator did.
This performance helps the story somewhat by reminding the audience that there actually IS a conflict in the Bella/Edward relationship: That Bella is attracted to Edward even though she really shouldn't be because he is genuinely dangerous. So it makes it feel a little more like a tragic good-girl-falls-for-bad-boy romance than the book is willing to let it be because book Edward is all "yeah, I could theoretically kill you but instead I'm going to give you butterfly kisses and spoon you because I love you like whoa." and Bella's all like "you can do anything you want, no matter how creepy, because I love you and you're perfect and the possibility of you tearing me apart with your teeth and injecting me with excruciatingly painful vampire venom doesn't scare me because yr hot." The sense of danger is never really tangible.
Unfortunately, although the movie did the best it could, I still find myself not 100% buying the romance. I'm still just not quite feeling it. And, for the record, after I saw Twilight, I saw" Zack and Miri Make a Porno" which I thought WAS romantic and made me feel all mushy and want to go home and cuddle my boyfriend.
Still, if someone hasn't read Twilight the book and been like "WTF," I'm not sure they could appreciate the movie for improving on it. I'm sure all those people who actually loved the book and thought it was good will be like "boo! this movie sucks! It changed stuff and left out tons of stuff that was vitally important!" And people who have never read the book at all will be like "are you fucking kidding me? Sparkly vampires?" So maybe there is really no winning.