Review: ‘Twilight’ has bite

Twilight (2008)
122 minutes
Rated PG-13
Directed by Catherine Hardwicke
Starring:  Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson


Grade:  C+

Although I find it irrelevant to have a disclaimer about how I am reviewing this movie as a non-fan of Stephenie Meyer’s insanely popular book, I guess it’s sort of necessary to people who might be reading this.  Oh, and I am a guy… just another aspect that makes me the least likely person to appreciate and enjoy the movie.

Twilight isn’t a bad movie, though it’s not great either.  The beginning is long and quite dull, yet it creates the tone for the rest of the film and really makes the subtle tension seem that much more exciting.  We have our heroine, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart)… an awkward, clumsy, and quiet girl who combines her vulnerability with purity to make her quite a tasty dish (for humans too).  She seems like a nice, down-to-earth type of girl who is rebellious against popularity and craves privacy.

She sees the Cullen family and immediately strikes curiosity in them.  Her friend tells her the story the entire town of Forks, Washington knows… they’re outsiders, they keep to themselves, they’re weird.  The movie drags on when Bella meets Edward Cullen (the dreamy Robert Pattinson) with every awkward step.  But then finally, something happens… Edward saves Bella’s life.  Oh, and then he saves her life again… and again… and again.

The interaction between Bella and Edward were strange at first.  It’s obvious these two aren’t your “normal” couple.  But as the film goes on, their relationship hits a stride with every cheesy, teen-romance cliché in the book.  I’m not sure if the whole romantic seesaw was supposed to be so funny, but I chuckled at every forced line and in-your-face stare-down.  But overall, their chemistry could’ve been worse.

Everyone is likeable.  I was wondering how long it would take Bella to find out Edward was a vampire.  That probably could’ve been done a bit quicker, freeing up more time for the good stuff.  Anyway, once she finds out and confronts him about it, this sets Edward free.  She trusts him and tells him that she’s not afraid.  He explains how he wants her, but fears he’ll cause harm to her.  She doesn’t care.  It’s all mushy stuff until the baseball scene.

This is when Twilight takes off.  During a friendly game of vampire baseball in the thunderstorm, three stray vampires intrude on the Cullens and Bella.  James senses her and desires her human blood at any cost.  He’s a tracker, meaning once he got her scent he can trace it for miles.  Edward and his family know Bella’s in danger now and act fast to protect her.

It’s quite amazing how many genres are packed into this movie.  The beginning is your typical high school teen-dramedy.  Then the middle feels like a teen-romance.  And the end plays out like an action-thriller with a sci-fi spin.  In a way, I guess you can say that Twilight has something for everyone.

Working with a $37 million budget, Twilight impresses with its great action sequences.  Unfortunately there is hardly enough action because of the large bulk of painful dialogue and establishing the Twilight universe.  Nonetheless, aside of its many flaws there are plenty of good things that makes this film quite entertaining through its stunning climax and sappy conclusion.

One thing I thought Twilight did well was its casting.  I bet the Twilight readers would disagree, but for the characters portrayed in the film, the actors did a good job.  I’m not convinced that Kristen Stewart is a good actress, but I am sure that casting her as Bella was a great choice.  As for Robert Pattinson, his mysterious aura sparkles throughout the film even when he’s not in direct sunlight.  The two young actors have the entire franchise to look forward to, though they better get a move on it… you know, with Edward unable to age.  By the time Breaking Dawn is made Pattinson will probably be 27.

Another aspect about Twilight that I found enjoyable was the placement of humor throughout.  I especially enjoyed Bella’s father who provided a number of funny lines, complimenting Bella’s nonchalant personality.  And all of Bella’s human friends in high school made the film fun.  As hard as the book might try to make the story a noir-science fiction romance, high school is inevitably a time for kids to be kids and that was displayed well.

Twilight fans will probably be disappointed, but that’s the old tale of nit-picking and cursing the movie-makers for leaving out their favorite parts of the book.  Let’s be realistic here.  To translate a 500 page book into 120 pages of screenplay is no easy task.  And to cram your 10-hour experience of reading into two hours of visual storytelling… of course it’s not going to be the same.  But in a movie perspective, Twilight was decent.  If readers are lenient and allow themselves to enjoy the movie, they’ll be satisfied.  Hopefully, like the Harry Potter franchise, the Twilight Saga films will improve with its sequels.  But as a guy who has never touched the book (yet with low expectations I must add), there are a lot of things worse than Twilight.


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