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Review: Twilight

Does the popular Stephanie Meyer book tanslate well onto the big screen?
Twilight (Summit Entertainment)

Rated PG-13 for some violence and a scene of sensuality.

Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Ashley Greene, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Kellan Lutz, Cam Gigandet, Taylor Lautner, Anna Kendrick, Michael Welch, Justin Chon, Christian Cerratos, Billy Black.

Written by Melissa Rosenberg (screenplay) based on the novel by Stephanie Meyer.

Directed by Catherine Hardwicke.

GRADE: B

REVIEW


By Dan Metcalf


In an obvious self-serving effort to keep hordes of women from tearing me limb-from-limb, let me begin this review by admitting that I did not hate the much-anticipated movie adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s popular Twilight novel. There. Now, I suppose the trick is to keep the same hordes from giving me dirty looks because I’m not going to gush about it, either.

Adapting a popular book into a movie is always a dicey proposition; one that can not only spell box-office doom, but also take the wind out of an author’s sails. One need not look further than Dune, Eragon, and about 90 percent of all Stephen King novels. Even the early Harry Potter movies, although adequate, had their share of critics from inside and out of the Muggle world. Harry Potter films are getting better, with bigger budgets and A-list talent. Twilight fans should hope for the same.

Twilight is the story of Bella (Kristen Stewart), a teenaged girl who moves in with her father after spending most of her childhood with her mom in Phoenix. Bella’s dad is a cop in small Washington (state) town where it rains a lot.

As Bella adjusts to high school life, she is intrigued by a group of students who seem a little more out of place than she. They are the Cullens, a band of pale, yet super-attractive wealthy people who stare at everybody and keep their distance.

One of the Cullens is Edward (Robert Pattinson, or Cedric Diggory from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), a tall boy who is suddenly enthralled with Bella as if she were doused in pheromones. Bella is also drawn to Edward, wanting to know more about his mysterious demeanor.

When Edward saves Bella from a car crash using some kind of superhuman strength, Bella is all the more intrigued and makes it her mission to find out what makes Edward and the rest of the Cullens so unique.

Bella eventually discovers Edward’s secret: He’s a vampire, and so are the rest of the Cullens. Finding out your mad crush wants to drink your blood and feast on your flesh would be a deal-breaker for most young women, but Bella is drawn all the more to Edward and longs even more to be with him.

When Edward introduces Bella to his family, things go well until a rival gang of vampires moves into the territory and begins to hunt her.

That’s pretty much it. The rest of the story is centered on Edward’s efforts to keep Bella from being eaten by the bad vampires, with a lot of sappy teen romance in between.

As mentioned, I did not hate Twilight. I did not love it either. Kristen Stewart provides a great performance as Bella, and Pattinson as Edward is more than adequate as a romantic leading man. The other actors do a good job of developing their characters and making them interesting as well.

One problem I had with Twilight was the absence of back-stories needed to truly understand and recognize the particular nuances of the characters, especially the vampires. It was a lot like going to a cocktail party where you don’t know everyone, and you miss a lot of inside jokes. I saw Twilight in a theater packed with Twilight maniacs who recognized such distinctions obviously plucked from the pages of the novel(s). A movie shouldn’t require research; I have to care about the character on the screen without having to study.

The main problem I had with Twilight is its tendency to favor mood over substance. There are several long, drawn-out sequences where Bella and Edward stare into each others’ eyes as the music crescendos and the camera circles them in a misty forest. It was a lot like watching a 90-minute perfume commercial. There are also a few overly-theatrical ‘vampire’ moments, like when the good vampires square off against the bad vampires in defense of Bella that seemed a little too Bela Lugosi-ish.

Even so, most Twilight fans I’ve spoken to say the movie was a more than adequate adaptation of the novel, and they ‘can’t wait’ for the sequels. I can safely say Twilight will be more than enjoyed by fans of the books. In terms of a movie by itself, Twilight doesn’t stand alone. It may have to simply settle as a good companion to the book.

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