Written by Melissa Rosenberg
Directed by Catherine Hardwicke
Running Time: 2:02
for some violence and a scene of sensuality.
While definitely a movie geared towards young teen girls, Twilight was a pretty decent film.
Young Bella Swan moves from Arizona to the wet city of Forks, Washington. Her mother got married to a baseball player and rather than hold her back, Bella decided to move in with her father. Forks is a dreary and boring town but on her first day of school Bella sees Edward Cullen from across a crowded cafeteria and is immediately taken by him. At first he resists her, for reasons she can't understand, but the more she learns about Edward, the more she is drawn to him. Then one day she has the startling realization that Edward is more than what he seems... he is a vampire. Undeterred, Bella and Edward fall in love until one day a rival group of vampires comes upon the two of them and Edward's family. One of the vampires is a tracker and he senses Bella is human. Can Edward and his family hunt down the hunter, before the hunter kills Bella?
If you haven't heard of Twilight by now, I'm not sure where you've been. The book series has exploded in recent months into a fever pitch unseen since the end of Harry Potter. Unlike Potter however, Twilight is romance first, action second. I've read the first book in the series so I can say that the movie remains fairly faithful to the story, with a few minor tweaks. Obviously certain scenes have been edited out so that the movie isn't 14 hours long but for the most part, everything is in there. Bella's entrance into Forks, meeting Edward, learning about him and finding out his true nature. The two of them falling in love and him having to save her from herself. All the supporting characters are there and the casting agents did a pretty good job matching the actors to the characters in the books. The one element of the movie that isn't in the book is the three vampires who hunt Bella. In the books they're not introduced until the baseball game. They are mentioned, in passing, earlier but we don't see them until near the end. In the movie they are introduced earlier and scattered throughout the film, mainly to build suspense so the movie isn't non-stop romance.
Visually you can tell the movie isn't a big budget film. It lacks the high-gloss look of a Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings or comparable book-to-movie project. But considering the story line is kind of dark, it didn't bother me that the movie wasn't shiny. I thought the music did a good job setting the mood as well, although in a couple of places I felt like I was listening to an 80s made-for-tv flick. What really held the movie together was the actors. Kristen Stewart plays Bella and in the book she's a shy girl who prefers to spend time by herself. She's attractive but doesn't feel like she is and doesn't understand why all the guys like her. Stewart does a very good job bringing that to life. Robert Pattinson plays Edward and if the girls at the screening I went to are anything like the rest of the country, the poor boy will never be left alone again. The girls were squealing from the instant he appeared on screen and they never let up. At all. For 2 hours. Pattison does a decent job at playing a morose kind of vampire who longs to suck the blood of the woman he loves. There are a few times though where he goes for a cool, unaffected look and instead looks shell-shocked. If this were a theater full of guys we all would have laughed out loud at some of Pattinson's stares, but the women ate it all up. More importantly than their singular talents however was the ability for the two of the to work together. I truly believed these two people fell for each other. It was a slow build to a steamy climax (but remember, no sex for these two!) There was something very sweet about seeing the two of them together and they really are the glue that holds the movie together.
That being said, the movie did lack a little bit in the visuals department. These vampires are the kind that can run fast and scale trees in seconds. But anything to do with that sort of quickness was rendered through an 80s movie technique which looked a little ridiculous. The fight scene at the end of the movie was done reasonably well, but any other special effect looked rather cheesy. Even the baseball scene looked kind of dumb. The movie wasn't terribly deep either. It lives or dies by the romance which, since this is a 2 hour movie with subplots, not allowed to get into much depth. However this isn't really meant to be the world's greatest romantic film. It's supposed to be a teen girl's vision of what a high school romance with a vampire might be. So on that level it works. And the supporting cast was a lot of fun. The vampires are all in tune with the book, although at times their makeup is ridiculously white to make them seem pale. It gets a little comical at times. There was some discussion about whether Nikki Reed could pull off being Rosalie, who is supposed to be a vision of perfectness, but she looks pretty damn good. Bella's friends were also pretty good with Anna Kendrick as Jessica Stanley standing out from the crowd. She was a lot of fun and a fantastic character.
The Two-Disc Special Edition DVD comes with a bunch of extras. The first disc, which of course has the movie, also contains a commentary track which I haven't yet watched but for the first time, I want to, which I will explain later. The first disc also contains a couple of music videos and a few extended scenes which don't add much to the overall story, but shows more of Edward and Bella. Disc two has some deleted scenes, which are like the extended scenes - more of the good looking stars, but not much added to the movie. The scenes are so short though, I don't see why they weren't just kept in. There is also a behind-the-scenes look at the Comic-Con experience, which was fun mainly to see how everyone reacted to the thousands upon thousands of screaming girls in attendance. And lastly, there is a seven-part documentary that covers the books through on to post-production of the films. The movie itself plays much like it did on the big screen. I didn't like it any more than the first time, but I didn't hate it any more. What I can confirm is that Catherine Hardwicke was not a good choice to direct this film as she simply, in my opinion, does not have the ability to helm a fantasy film like this. Not everything was her fault, as it appears the special effects budget was around $100, but the movie, much like the first Harry Potter film, was not the spectacle it should have been. But as the Potter movies have gotten better looking over time, I'm confident the Twilight series will as well. But back to why I want to watch with the commentary... throughout all the extras I barely heard a few words from Kristen Stewart. And at Comic-Con she looked like she wanted to be anywhere but there promoting the film. So I'm really curious to see what she has to say on the commentary track, or if she even says anything at all. However, all that being said, for the true Twilight, the Special Edition is a must-have.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I enjoyed Twilight. It wasn't the greatest film of all-time (as I'm sure many young girls will say it is) but all in all, it wasn't bad either. I think if you're hesitant to go see it because you haven't read the books or feel it'll be too much of a boring romance, you'd be surprised at how much you like it. So give it a shot... besides, you don't want to be the only person out there who hasn't seen this new pop-culture phenomenon. Do you?
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