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•• Ain't It Cool News, Saffron Starlet: What do screaming girls, blood, proms and pale skin all have in common? That would have to be the new vampire flick “Twilight.” While it hits theatres in a matter of days, a quick sneak peek tonight invited many of us to enter into the world a little early. As a fan of the books (yes, I’ve read all four and did so in less than a week. I know, I have no life), I knew that a lot would have to go to make the movie short enough to fit into a teenager’s attention span. On that, I believe the writers, directors and other staff of the film succeeded. There were some problems with pacing, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Oh, and just to warn you, I’m liberal on spoilers, so fans and non-fans alike: BEWARE. Firstly, the casting department did their duty in finding people who captured the essence of the characters, if not the exact look every person who read the books concocted in their own minds.
Kristen Stewart reads like a dream. Her inflections during narration and voice over never come off as though she’s reading a script. Rather, you feel like the confession flows off of her lips before she can properly retrieve and destroy it. In the role of Bella, she asserts more confidence than one might read in the book, and a little less of the vulnerability one might expect, but the balance is basically achieved. When pushed to the brink in moments of despair, she delivers. Her unfinished, jagged sentences never seem planned, never seem rehearsed. After viewing interviews with the teenager, I was not sure what to expect out of her as an actress, but she shines. Robert Pattinson. I cannot say enough about how much I loved in his performance. At the conclusion of the film, the moments that stuck out most in my mind involved him and variances between the film and book that only he could carry off. Most notably, Pattinson accurately captured the disgust Edward feels for himself, not just for what he is, but what that could do to the only person he’s ever loved so intensely. The simultaneous drive to protect and destroy his beloved reads across Pattinson’s face with such intensity that I felt tempted to cry several times. One of the most notable scenes was one of the shortest, but his face sold it. As Bella lays against his chest, caught up in sleep, completely at ease, he stares at her, his face filled with trepidation; as though this moment simultaneously captures his greatest fears and greatest joys all at once. He’s unable to enjoy the moment because of the fear he holds at his own lack of control, and Pattinson sells this so beautifully. I could go on and on about what he did with this role, and how he took it places I thought it never could go, but I’ll say just one more and then hang up the towel on the Brit-love for the time being.
The scene when he starts to unravel, when he’s begging his family to help, even the ever-off-putting Rosalie, I couldn’t stop watching him. Edward of the book never seemed so breakable, at least not in the first book, and yet I thought it made perfect sense for him to be at his most vulnerable when someone else threatens his love because of his own perceived selfishness. Pattinson takes Edward to the brink without pushing him over, and the moment remains one of my favorites from the film. Among the Cullen family, Peter Facinelli as Dr. Carlisle Cullen stole the show, but that may be because the rest of the family felt horribly underused. Facinelli gave Dr. Carlisle a degree of control and authority over the rest of the family despite their lack of a significant age difference. Never once did I doubt Carlisle’s hundreds of years of history and life experience. One of the most understated, and probably will be underrated, performances in the movie was Billy Burke as Bella’s father, Charlie. The level of discomfort he felt talking with his daughter about boys, about their lives together, about almost anything was sold to a note-perfect degree. Silly moments, such as playing an almost imaginary game of tag with his friend in a wheelchair, never seemed phony, and the more heart-wrenching moments, such as watching his daughter walk out on him, always felt organic and real. It would have been easy for any other actor to break down and oversell the pain in that scene, but Burke’s face and eyes sold it without pulling him out of the character of Charlie that we know from the books. I do hope critics do not ignore his performance, because his balance of “normal” helps us better appreciate the fantastical world of the Cullens. The school chums were all well cast, as were the Cullens, but as said previously, I feel like I did not see enough of them to comment too much on their performances and characters.
Jackson Rathbone radiates off the screen with his quiet presence, and Ashley Greene’s Alice was appropriately sweet and mischievous. Kellan Lutz as Emmet probably had the least to do besides Elizabeth Reaser’s Esme. They both had maybe ten lines the entire movie, and that is one of the weaknesses for me. Nikki Reed as Rosalie did have a few very nice moments, one of them being towards the end of the movie, and a favorite for me. The baddies did a fairly good job with what they were given. Rachelle Lefevre came off appropriately sexy and creepy at once, while Edi Gathegi did well with the small part of Laurent. Cam Gigandet really sold James for me. My version in the book was nearly as malicious as his on-screen interpretation, so I walked away satisfied. There’s not a lot to say about Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black, but I know someone would stone me if I failed to mention him. He did not have a lot to do in this film, but I think that he is more than prepared for what he needs to do in the next one. That is to say, I felt the potential in him to shine, the same way I did when first I spotted a young Robert Pattinson as Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter. There was a lot to break down with the book to try and condense it for film, so when I noted several scenes in the book condensed to one in the film, or scenes missing altogether, I was not surprised. I tend to enjoy a book better than its movie adaptation, but there are exceptions (Princess Bride being among them). I went into the film trying to keep an open mind, and most of the time I think they made exactly the right choice on what to keep and what to leave behind. A lot of the back-story with Bella and her school chums fell to the wayside, as did a lot of her first day of school, which takes up a significant amount of time in the book. Similarly, a lot of Bella and Edwards first moments as a couple disappeared. Among the casualties are lunch table conversations, a million and one questions, before-gym-class face stroking, Edward taking time away from her to get strong before the Meadow Scene, Tyler trying to ask Bella to prom, Edward and Bella’s discomfort in the dark in Biology, and so much more. I have to say, I didn’t really miss much of it. It seemed like the right stuff to go went. My problem was with the pacing of the first half of the film. In a book, or even in a television series, there’s more opportunity for breaks and to skip and flit around. In a book, you end a chapter. In a TV series, you go to commercial. In a movie, though, that principal does not always work as well, and at times I could barely tell if it was supposed to be a different day, the same day, or a flashback. The only thing that gave me a clue was the clothing in the scene to let me know if it was “later that day” or another day entirely. However, I know some footage lays on the cutting room floor, someday destined for the DVD release, and I cannot fully judge the layout of that first half until I know what had to be cut. I also believe there may be some missing Cullen family scenes in that cut footage, but I guess I’ll have to wait until the DVD comes out to find my answer. Once the film reaches its groove, once the teen and immortal determine this is their path, the movie moves swiftly from one thing to the next.
I feel like the beginning had to be condensed so there would be enough freedom in the second half of the movie to include as much as possible and to keep it as put together as possible. Everything from the baseball scene, to the scene at Bella’s home where she declares she’s leaving, to the prom scene at the end resonated perfectly, and I found myself thinking “What a cool pace we’re at now” as soon as all that started moving. Most of the iconic, fan-adored lines from the book find a way into the movie, even if in ways you did not expect. Many key moments that book fans cling to shine, but there are also a few added scenes and lines that add so much to the movie. That’s not to say anything detrimental about the books at all, but only to say that I think the writers handled that aspect of the medium change with ease. One of the biggest changes comes toward the end of the flick, and I don’t want to completely ruin everything for those going in blind, but it’s a Cullen family moment, and it’s completely contrary to the book, and I don’t care. There is another big change from the book to the movie that happens in the last ten minutes. Again, I don’t want to spoil you all too much, but the way Pattinson played it, and the way they edited it together was magic. It was torturous, and added so much more agony to Edward and to the relationship, but it resonated with me even more than that section in the book ever did, and I thank whoever came up with that one major change. It enriches the characters so much, and I think it gave Pattinson even more to work with in those final moments of the movie. I do wish we got to see more of the Cullen family in this one based on my knowledge of the future books. I feel like we needed a little more setup on how they relate to one another and to Bella.
The one or two scenes we had never felt like enough for me when I thought about it in context of the series, but for the one movie, for someone not familiar with the books, it works. There is only one thing in the movie that really bothered me actively. One thing. I know, after all the adulation I’ve laid out, you’ve been waiting for me to have a major issue. Well, here it is: Bella’s Lullaby. In the book, that is such a huge iconic thing for him to hum it to her, for him to play it for her, because it so greatly contrasts the other song he played for her that he wrote. The Lullaby symbolizes such a drastic change in him and in his heart. In the book, Esme goes on about how Bella changed Edward, about how she was worried he would never find someone, and that lullaby is an actual representation of the change. It’s unlike the other song he plays for Bella because it’s inspired by her bringing out the humanity in him. We do hear the song in the movie and see him play it for her, but I think it was under-utilized. It needed more explanation because music is such a big part of the next book, and I would have hoped they would give it a little more care. Again, there could be a deleted scene somewhere out there contradicting everything I’ve said, so I’m trying to keep my heart and mind open. I would like to advise book fans to go in with an open mind and remember that movie adaptations are never exactly the same as the book due to time constraints. There are some differences, there are some different scenes, there are some different lines. None of it should be perceived as bad until you allow yourself the full experience of the film. I want to see it again so I can really soak it up and stop thinking, “Ok, they cut that. They added that. Oh, what’s that!?” If I were not a Twilight fan, though, I would still have enjoyed this movie. It’s fun and romantic and even a little dark and twisted, which makes it even sweeter.
•• Variety, Justin Chang: Vampires and the poor human beings who love them have been a hot onscreen item this season, as evidenced by HBO’s lurid hit series “True Blood” and the marvelous Swedish import “Let the Right One In.” For less discriminating palates, there’s the much-anticipated “Twilight,” a disappointingly anemic tale of forbidden love that should satiate the pre-converted but will bewilder and underwhelm viewers who haven’t devoured Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling juvie chick-lit franchise. Built-in femme fanbase will lend this Summit Entertainment release some serious B.O. bite, with Robert Pattinson’s turn as an undead heartthrob keeping repeat biz at a steady pump.
Stewart (seen recently and most impressively in “Into the Wild”) makes Bella earthy, appealing and slightly withdrawn, and British thesp Pattinson (who registered poignantly as the ill-fated Cedric Diggory in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”) is every inch the deadly dreamboat. But as helmed by Hardwicke, the actors’ early, awkward interactions feel particularly forced, and the script gives Stewart virtually nothing with which to convince the audience of her transcendent love for a guy who’d just as soon drink her blood as jump her bones.
Burke steals a few scenes as Bella’s quietly dependable dad, as does the reliably sharp-witted Anna Kendrick as Bella’s busybody friend, Jessica. Questionable casting of some of Bella’s other classmates may rile purists, though Hardwicke and Rosenberg generate some laughs from the high school setting. Pic duly introduces Jacob (Taylor Lautner), a Native American youth who looks to rival Edward for Bella’s affections in future outings.
In an unwise departure from the book, pic dispels rather than increases the tension by showing random vampire attacks by a sinister trio (Cam Gigandet, Rachelle Lefevre, Edi Gathegi), headed toward a showdown with Edward and his brood. Chase-thriller endgame seems to sputter to a halt when it’s barely begun.
Visual effects, used to convey the vampires’ superhuman strength, agility and resistance to gravity, are a mixed bag. Shot in moody, washed-out tones by Hardwicke’s regular lenser, Elliot Davis, pic makes the most of its Oregon locations.
•• Roger Ebert: Rating 2,5/4
If you’re a vampire, it’s all about you. Why is Edward Cullen obsessed to the point of erotomania by Bella Swan? Because she smells so yummy, but he doesn’t want to kill her. Here’s what he tells her: He must not be around her. He might sink his fangs in just a little, and not be able to stop. She finds this overwhelmingly attractive. She tells him he is the most beautiful thing she has ever seen. I don’t remember Edward ever saying that to her. Maybe once. He keeps on saying they should stay far, far apart, because he craves her so much.
Should a woman fall in love with a man because he desires her so much? Men seem to think so. It's not about the woman, it's about the man's desire. We all know there is no such thing as a vampire. Come on now, what is "Twilight" really about? It's about a teenage boy trying to practice abstinence, and how, in the heat of the moment, it's really, really hard. And about a girl who wants to go all the way with him, and doesn't care what might happen. He's so beautiful she would do anything for him. She is the embodiment of the sentiment, "I'd die for you." She is, like many adolescents, a thanatophile.
If there were no vampires in "Twilight," it would be a thin-blooded teenage romance, about two good-looking kids who want each other so much because they want each other so much. Sometimes that's all it's about, isn't it? They're in love with being in love. In "Twilight," however, they have a seductive disagreement about whether he should kill her. She's like, I don't especially want to die, but if that's what it takes, count me in. She is touched by his devotion. Think what a sacrifice he is making on her behalf. On Prom Night, on the stage of the not especially private gazebo in the public gardens, he teeters right on the brink of a fang job, and then brings all of her trembling to a dead stand-still.
The movie is lush and beautiful, and the actors are well-chosen. You may recall Robert Pattinson (Edward) as Cedric Diggory, who on Voldemort's orders was murdered in a graveyard in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." Maybe he was already a vampire. Pattinson is not unaware of how handsome he is. When Bella and Edward, still strangers, exchange stern and burning looks in the school cafeteria, he transfixes her with a dark and glowering - nay, penetrating - stare. I checked Pattinson out on Google Images and found he almost always glowers at the camera 'neath shadowed brow. Kristen Stewart's Bella, on the other hand, is a fresh-faced innocent who is totally undefended against his voltage.
ella has left her mom and stepdad in hot Arizona, clutching a potted cactus, to come live in the clammy, rainy Pacific Northwest, home of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Her dad (Billy Burke) is the chief of police of the very small town of Forks, Washington (pop. 3,120). His greatest asset: "He doesn't hover." At high school, she quickly notices the preternaturally pale Cullen clan, who in some shots seem to be wearing as much Max Factor Pancake White as Harry Langdon. Edward is 114 years old. He must be really tired of taking biology class. Darwin came in during his watch, and proved vampires can't exist.
There are other strange youths around, including American Indians who appear not too distantly descended from their tribe's ancestors, wolves. Great tension between the wolves and vampires. Also some rival vampires around. How small is this town? The Forks high school is so big, it must serve a consolidated district serving the whole table setting. The main local Normal Kid is a nice sandy-haired boy who asks Bella to the prom. He's out of his depth here, unless he can transmogrify into a grizzly. Also there are four grey-bearded coots at the next table in the local diner, who eavesdrop and exchange significant glances and get big, significant close-ups but are still just sitting significantly nodding, for all I know.
Edward has the ability to move as swiftly as Superman. Like him he can stop a runaway pickup with one arm. He rescues Bella twice that I remember, maybe because he truly loves her, maybe because he's saving her for later. She has questions. "How did you appear out of nowhere and stop that truck?" Well might she ask. When he finally explains that he is a vampire, he goes up from 8 to 10 on her Erotometer. Why do girls always prefer the distant, aloof, handsome, dangerous dudes instead of cheerful chaps like me?
"Twilight" will mesmerize its target audience, 16-year-old girls and their grandmothers. Their mothers know all too much about boys like this. I saw it at a sneak preview. Last time I saw a movie in that same theater, the audience welcomed it as an opportunity to catch up on gossip, texting, and laughing at private jokes. This time the audience was rapt with attention. Sometimes a soft chuckle, as when the principal Indian boy has well-developed incisors. Sometimes a soft sigh. Afterwards, I eavesdropped on some conversations. A few were saying, "He's so hot!" More floated in a sweet dreaminess. Edward seemed to stir their surrender instincts.
•• Metromix, Geoff Berkshire: As far as human-vampire romances go 'Twilight' has nothing on the best seasons of TV’s 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer,' but director Catherine Hardwicke’s cinematic vision is blessedly (sorry, hardcore Twilighters) a lot more enjoyable than Meyer’s clunky prose. Major props to Stewart, who refuses to turn Bella into a lovestruck sap, and anchors the movie with the ease and authority of both a great actress and a true movie star. The same can’t be said just yet for her much drooled over co-star. Pattinson takes some admirable risks to shift his character away from the stereotypical brooding rebel, but whether his career follows the teen idol lead of Johnny Depp or Luke Perry is open for debate.
•• Detroit Free Press, Rick Bentley: Their work should silence many of the critics. Pattinson makes brooding a science. And Stewart finds the right blend of strength and vulnerability to play Bella. The supporting cast is strong, especially Nikki Reed as the headstrong Rosalie and Rachelle Lefevre as Victoria. And the non-vampire high school students are the best supporting cast in a vampire tale since the days of 'Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.'" But again, those pesky low-budget effects are a problem: "The special abilities of the vampires, such as super speed, looks gimmicky. Scenes in which Edward races or flies through the forest come across as bad puppet theater.
•• Larsen On Film: Rating 2/4
Forget the hand-holding tweens in the audience – Twilight itself could use a chaperone. Based on Stephenie Meyer’s wildly popular novel about a teenage girl who falls in love with a vampire, Twilight is a heaving, heavy-breathing romance, a hilariously campy movie metaphor for the agony of abstinence. You’d have to go back to 1961′s Splendor in the Grass, with Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood as high-school lovebirds caught between their urges and their parents’ disapproval of an early marriage, to find another teen movie as sexually frustrated. From the moment the undead Edward (Robert Pattinson) gazes upon Bella (Kristen Stewart) in biology class, his pale face crumples into an expression of pent-up pain. Soon after, he’s swooping up behind her in the cafeteria. “If you were smart, you’d stay away from me,” he whispers, even as he sniffs her hair and shudders. With that combination of devotion and danger, it’s no wonder tween girls swoon. Twilight is a shoddy B movie – full of choppy editing, embarrassing special effects and unsteady performances. Yet it’s ultimately doomed by the decision of director Catherine Hardwicke to turn what could have been a sexual undercurrent into a tropical storm.
•• Michigan Live, James Sanford: (Robert Pattinson) takes Bella (Kristen Stewart) on a wild ride in TWILIGHT. Sixteen-year-old Bella just transferred from sunny Phoenix to the permanently overcast Washington town of Forks midway through the school year. That's bad. But she just met a new guy who looks like he stepped off the cover of GQ and talks like he just escaped from a romance novel. That's great. But he keeps warning her to stay away from him. That's bad. But he saved her when that out-of-control van nearly crushed her. That's great. But she's just figured out her guardian angel is a vampire. Is that bad or great?
That's the question at the core of TWILIGHT, adapted from Stephenie Meyer's wildly successful best seller. While other girls wonder about what to wear for their next big date, Bella is debating giving up her humanity to share eternity with her new boyfriend, Edward Cullen. Really, dealing with ACT prep classes and filling out college applications seem like small potatoes compared to that.
Director Catherine Hardwicke's film pumps up the novel's action, and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg's screenplay finds considerably more humor in the material than Meyer did. That's a plus, since it's not easy to maintain a straight face during certain portions of TWILIGHT, particularly the segments in which the vampires demonstrate their supernatural speed and agility; some elements of the story (and some of the dialogue lifted verbatim from Meyer) work much better on the page than they do on the screen.
It's also a movie that wanders erratically from tone to tone. Sometimes it takes on the dark colors of a horror film; other times, it seems like the pilot episode for a new CW teen soap opera full of pin-up-pretty faces.
But taken as a romance with an undercurrent of spookiness -- and for those who are willing to accept the minor liberties Rosenberg takes with the plot -- TWILIGHT generally scores. Kristen Stewart demonstrates a beguiling combination of uncertainty and wonder as Bella, a character Winona Ryder would have killed to play 20 years ago. The awkward interactions with her father (Billy Burke) are especially well-played.
There's also a palpable charge between Stewart and Robert Pattinson, who portrays Edward as an amalgam of various tortured young artists, from James Dean to Jim Morrison to Morrissey. But hey, if you were doomed to keep repeating high school over and over, who's to say you wouldn't be angst-ridden, too?
The TWILIGHT series has captured legions of readers who relish the concept of being swept off their feet (literally, in this case) by a dashing, sophisticated and slightly dangerous man. TWILIGHT the movie offers a bonus: For the millions of women who have been dragged by their boyfriends to see all three LORD OF THE RINGS movies and the MATRIX trilogy and the SPIDER-MAN saga, here's a chance to taste a little sweet revenge.
•• The New York Times, Manohla Dargis: It’s love at first look instead of first bite in “Twilight,” a deeply sincere, outright goofy vampire romance for the hot-not-to-trot abstinence set. Based on the foundational book in Stephenie Meyer’s best-selling multivolume series, “The Twilight Saga” (four doorstops and counting), this carefully faithful adaptation traces the sighs and whispers, the shy glances and furious glares of two unlikely teenage lovers who fall into each other’s pale, pale arms amid swirling hormones, raging instincts, high school dramas and oh-so-confusing feelings, like, OMG he’s SO HOT!! Does he like ME?? Will he KILL me??? I don’t CARE!!! :)
And, reader, she doesn’t, Bella (for Isabella) Swan, played with tremulous intensity and a slight snarl by Kristen Stewart. A sylph with a watchful, sometimes wary gaze who’s often cast in daughter roles, Ms. Stewart transformed from an appealing actress into something more complex with her brief, memorable turn in the 2007 movie of Jon Krakauer’s book “Into the Wild.” As the child-woman whose longing for the ill-fated wanderer Christopher McCandless is largely expressed through piercing looks and sensitive strumming, Ms. Stewart gave form and feeling to the possibility that the search for freedom and authentic experiences can be found in the embrace of another human being. This was a girl worth living for, if not for that film’s lost soul.
Since living really isn’t an option for Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), the moody, darkly brooding vampire who catches Bella’s eye and then her heart, she becomes the girl worth fighting for, a battle that, as in the book, involves not just malignant forces, but also ravenous appetite. Like all vampire stories, “Twilight” is about repressed desire and untamed hunger and the possibility of blood, the blood that flows from violently pierced necks and that, from John Polidori’s 1819 short novel “The Vampyre” to Alan Ball’s new HBO series, “True Blood,” represents ravishment of a more graphic kind. This is the ravishment that, in its pantomime of seduction and surrender, transforms innocence — like that of Bram Stoker’s sacrificial virgin, Lucy, in “Dracula” — into “voluptuous wantonness.”
Ms. Meyer’s contribution to the vampire chronicles, the trick that transformed her into a best-selling brand, has been to stanch this sanguineous emission, turning a hot human flow into something less threatening and morally sticky. Edward, you see, burns but doesn’t bite. As in the book, he leads a numbingly quiet, respectable life with his vampire family in Forks, a small Washington town under a near-permanent cloud cover. His father, Carlisle (Peter Facinelli), a doctor with a ghostly pallor and silky gait, tends to the living, while the rest of the brood, including his monochromatic mother and siblings, strike pretty poses, play baseball (in thunder and lightning) and occasionally hunt for animals. We think of ourselves as vegetarians, Edward jokes.
It’s no wonder he looks famished. When Edward first meets Bella, who has moved to Forks to live with her father (Billy Burke), he glowers at her threateningly, his hands clenching into fists. Bella is mystified, and you might be too, if Melissa Rosenberg’s screenplay didn’t turn up the volume as the teenagers grow closer and Edward hints at his true nature. “What if I’m the bad guy?” he asks. (Cue the shrieking virgins.) “I still don’t know if I can control myself,” he later confesses, as someone’s guitar gently weeps. A self-described monster, he has all kinds of cool, superhuman powers (running, leaping, mind-reading), but nothing compares to how he masters his universe: he keeps his fangs in his mouth.
That may make him catnip to anyone with OJD (obsessive Jonas Brothers disorder), but it also means he’s a bore, despite the efforts of the capable and exotically beautiful Mr. Pattinson. (The actor first broke hearts as the martyred Cedric Diggory in the Harry Potter cycle.) Though her filmmaking can be shaky, the director Catherine Hardwicke has an eye for pretty young things and a feel for the private worlds that younger people make for themselves. But she’s working in shackles here. In her best movie, “Lords of Dogtown,” about the birth of the modern skateboard movement, a teenage boy sneaks out at night by slaloming off a roof while holding a surfboard. It’s a blissful declaration of freedom, including freedom from the big parental no.
Though Edward and Bella reach certain heights in “Twilight,” notably during a charming scene that finds them leaping from piney treetop to treetop against the spectacular wilderness backdrop, the story’s moral undertow keeps dragging them down. If Ms. Meyer has made the vampire story safe for her readers (and their parents) — the sole real menace comes from a half-baked subplot involving some swaggering vampires who like their steak saignant and human — it’s only because she suggests that there actually is something worse than death, especially for teenagers: sex. Faced with the partially clad Bella (who would bite if she could), Edward recoils from her like a distraught Victorian. Like Ms. Hardwicke, the poor boy has been defanged and almost entirely drained. He’s so lifeless, he might as well be dead — oops, he already is.
•• Reelz, Jeff Otto: Rating 7/10
I always try to avoid preconceived notions and keep an open mind when preparing to review a movie. I don't read early reviews or test-screening reactions. If possible, I even try not to watch trailers and TV spots. Of course, in the case of Twilight, avoiding the media blitz surrounding the release has been a relative impossibility. Heading into a recent screening, I was at least aware that it might not exactly be my cup of tea.
But Catherine Hardwicke is a solid director (we'll forgive The Nativity Story) with a knack for edgy tales of troubled youth (Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown) and pulling strong performances from young talent. If anyone was going to faithfully translate the novel to screen and deliver a work that could please audiences beyond the fan base, Hardwicke was the director to do it.
The Cullen sibilings in the Forks High School cafeteriaFor the uninitiated such as myself, a brief plot description: Twilight is the story of a teenage girl named Bella (Kristen Stewart) who moves from Phoenix, Arizona, to Forks, Washington, to live with her dad while her mom travels with her new husband, a minor league baseball player. She makes friends quickly, but finds herself drawn to the pale, attractive social outcasts of the school, the Cullen family. They travel together, avoid socialization, and don't come to school on sunny days. When Bella is nearly killed by a fellow student whose van slides out of control, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) comes out of nowhere to stop the car and save her life.
Bella keeps quiet about the circumstances of her rescue, but she knows Edward has a secret and isn't about to stop pestering him until she gets an answer. Edward tries to avoid Bella, but finds himself inescapably drawn to her at the same time. As their romance unfolds, the complications of a human-vampire romance prove dangerous for Edward, Bella, and those who are closest to them.
The vampire genre is amongst the most overplayed genres in the history of cinema. Thankfully, Meyer's vampires have a very different set of rules. A few highlights include their lack of fangs, ability to subsist on animal blood (a dietary choice making them "vegetarian" vampires), and the fact that they can go out in the sunlight, although the natural light causes their skin to sparkle like diamonds. As Meyer herself has admitted, the vampires of her world share a closer connection to superheroes than classic vampire lore. They possess super strength, telepathy, and a vertical leap that puts Michael Jordan to shame.
These differences create a freshness that differentiates Twilight from the scores of vampire tales past. Coupled with a strong cast of talented up-and-comers and Hardwicke's nimble pacing, Twilight is a surprising success on screen. The trickiest aspect is setting up the rules of this world and introducing such a large cast of characters without getting bogged down too deeply in setup. These early scenes are where Twilight does drag a bit, and even creep into corny territory. The Cullen family intro, a slow-motion sequence comparable to an '80s Revlon commercial, is somewhat laughable. But Hardwicke trudges through these early necessities and into the meat of the story relatively unscathed.
The anchor of Twilight is the nuanced, understated performance of Kristen Stewart. At only 18, the actress possesses an uncommon maturity. It's easy to see why any teenage girl would be attracted to the gorgeous Edward, but Stewart's intelligence infuses the romance with a humanistic touch that deepens the predictable surface attraction. Beyond just playing Bella again, Stewart is a very promising actress I expect to see great things from in the future.
Pattinson, who underwent arguably the greatest scorn from fans upon the announcement of his casting, is also quite good. Playing a character described in such flattering detail by Meyer, Pattinson is able to shift beyond surface attributes and give the necessary credibility to a character that is, in fact, more than 100 years old. He sells the angst without being too showy and occasionally peppers in some humor to lighten the film's dark mood. Added to that is a spot-on American accent so good that you might never guess Pattinson is a Brit.
Together, Stewart and Pattinson have a chemistry that builds as the story unfolds. Whether or not they are exactly as readers pictured them on the page, they appear deeply invested in the characters and their romance together. Suffice to say, fans' pulses should quicken by the time the two finally step in for the long-awaited lip lock.
For a movie budgeted at less than $40 million, Hardwicke gets some nice bang for her buck. The green-screen effects as Edward leaps from tree to tree with the trusting Bella clutching to his back have some minor glitches, but by that point I found myself invested enough in the story not to mind. The baseball sequence is particularly cool, if only a bit too short.
Twilight is a success in almost every sense of the word. It's certainly no masterpiece, but it condenses a lot into an entertaining 122 minutes and sets the stage nicely for the next movie. Considering what Hardwicke was able to achieve with the limitations of budget coupled with the challenges of setting up the world and introducing so many characters, the potential for the likely sequels is strong. While I can't say I'm going to run out and read the series, I am looking forward to the next Twilight adventure on screen.
•• Spirituality And Practice, Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat: Twilight is a movie for anyone who has been swept away by fervent desire, ecstatic love, an aching of the heart, fear of rejection, and an acute sense of buoyancy when in the presence of a beloved. This state of feeling was captured by poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning: "The face of all the world changed, I think." The actress Liv Ullmann said of this brand of intense love: "I felt as though the clouds were not on the horizon but under my feet. How sweet it was." If you've ever felt this way, you'll get this movie and its enormous appeal to those longing for or experiencing a first love.
The film is based on the first of Stephenie Meyer's four-book series which has sold 17 million copies worldwide and spawned more than 350 fan websites. Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen) directs from a screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg. There have been many, many movies about the different shades of teenage infatuation but this one explores fresh territory with its bold treatment of the romantic relationship between a vulnerable girl and a vampire. While there are horror story elements in the drama, the heart and soul of the story revolves around the tantalizing and compelling exhilarations of love in all its mysterious constellations.
Twilight is a supernatural fantasy tale that comes across as a thought-provoking meditation on adolescent love. It mirrors the head-over-heels feeling that can cause us extreme joy and incredible pain, great happiness and grueling despair. As we would expect in a film about vampires, it does reveal some of the shadow side of love: Edward's possessiveness, Bella's insecurity and submissiveness, their mutual fear of the changes that time might bring to their relationship. But rather than detract from this love story, these counterpoints enhance it.
We are caught up in and transfixed by the romance that develops between Bella and Edward. We understand Edward's obsession with Bella and his need to be constantly near her (he even enjoys watching her sleep at night). We identify with Bella's yearning for ecstatic union with Edward and her desperate need to find a way for them to live in the same world. These two young and beautiful lovers are willing to endure the fury of emotions for the rollercoaster ride of love; they are willing to risk everything to retain that intoxicating feeling. In this impulse, they are not alone.
•• Reelviews, James Berardinelli: Rating 2,5/4
In a statement that borders on the obvious, this review is not being written for the legions of loyal fans who have made Stephanie Meyer's novel Twilight the most popular piece of young adult literature to come along since Harry Potter left Hogwarts. Undoubtedly, Catherine Hardwicke's film adaptation of the book will be met in those quarters with rapturous praise. But just because the fans love something doesn't mean it's a good movie. Die-hards are often on the other side of the fence from those who view a particular nugget of pop culture from a distance, and that's fine. Just keep in mind where this review is coming from.
Twilight isn't an especially good movie, but neither is it an abomination. At times, the dialogue is laugh-aloud bad - almost to the point of being hilarious - and some of the acting is reminiscent of what we saw taking center stage in George Lucas' Star Wars prequel trilogy. The pace is uneven, there are an abundance of secondary characters who serve no real purpose (presumably, their existence will have a point in future installments), and there are a few scenes that drag on too long. Nevertheless, as the momentum builds and the romantic melodrama soars to a crescendo, it's hard not to be entertained - at least a little bit - by what's transpiring. This is a Harlequin romance by way of Dark Shadows. If it was a little better made and more tightly plotted, it might satisfy the requirements of a guilty pleasure.
For a teenager, one of the hardest life changes is to be transferred to a new school in the middle of a grade, especially if that grade is in high school. Such is the unenviable situation of Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), who has moved from Phoenix to the small Washington State town of Forks in the midst of her junior year. Her new school isn't a bad place. Despite the small size of the student body, it has all the usual cliques: jocks, nerds, outcasts, and Goths. The final group is unusual in that it's not comprised of Marilyn Manson lookalikes but real-life vampires. Of course, no one knows that. One suspects that if such a thing became public knowledge, it would be grounds for expulsion - or at least a few detentions.
Bella is immediately attracted to Edward (Robert Pattinson), a stud who looks like a young Brendan Frasier, cops a James Dean attitude, and is as stiff as Hayden Christensen's interpretation of Anakin Skywalker. The two get off to a rocky start, but eventually they bond, make out, and go tree climbing. It's all very cute and PG-13 romantic, but there's also a lot of angst. Edward advises Bella to stay away from him because he might lose control and do things one shouldn't do to one's potential prom date. (Ah, the sexual double entendres that pervade this movie.) This just elevates Bella's level of interest. You'd think she wants to be eaten. Ultimately, there's no sex but there is some biting. It turns out that Edward and his "family" aren't into human snacks. They're "vegetarians." That doesn't apply to all vampires, however, as Bella discovers when a nasty piece of work named James (Cam Gigandet) gets a nostrils-full of her delicious scent. Call me old school, but I get irritated when authors decide to re-write the vampire rule book to suit their desires. And making them dark and brooding doesn't make them interesting, just kind of pathetic. Meyer's vision of the undead is that they don't have any fatal problems with sunlight (they sparkle but don't burst into flame and shrivel up), and crucifixes and holy water don't pose a problem. Nor, apparently, do stakes through the heart - since killing requires that they be torn to pieces and torched. What's left? Well, they drink blood and can scamper around like bats and rats. They're super-fast and super-strong, and they have ice-cold skin. This proves not to be a problem for Bella, who happily cuddles with a man whose flesh is refrigerated.
It takes an inordinate amount of time for Twilight to hit its stride. It stumbles along for the better part of an hour introducing secondary characters who serve no purpose and having Bella and Edward trade bad dialogue and they gaze longingly at one another. Who needs to touch when one has those looks? If a viewer wanted to scratch just beneath the surface, it's possible to view the human/vampire romance as an analog for a more traditional forbidden love story. But bloodsuckers are so much more interesting, anyway.
Kristen Stewart, who may be familiar to some viewers from appearances in In the Land of Women and Into the Wild, acquits herself admirably, managing to avoid becoming stuck in the copious amounts of cheese that surround her. She brings a seriousness to Bella that works because she plays the role absolutely straight. We believe her because she sells the character. The same cannot be said of her male co-star. Robert Pattinson was clearly chosen more for his looks than his acting ability. There is some chemistry between the leads, but it's not explosive - more like a slow burn that's still trying to catch fire when the end credits role. No one else in the film merits mention. There are a lot of characters but, aside from Bella and Edward, none leaves much of an impression.
Arguably the most fascinating thing about Twilight are the bits and pieces of vampire culture to which we are exposed, although I'm still trying to figure out why vampires only play baseball during thunderstorms. I'm sure this, like many things, is better explored in the book. In fact, for a non-convert to the Gospel According to Stephanie Meyer, the movie often comes across like it was made for a club of which I'm not a member. In other words, if you really want to be pulled into Twilight, you have to read the book. Here's a better idea for those interested in exploring juvenile vampire love on the big screen: try out the Swedish movie Let the Right One In. It lacks Twilight's pedigree and budget, but what it loses in popularity, it makes up for in atmosphere, characterization, and story. Twilight is for girls who have outgrown The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants but aren't quite old enough for Sex and the City, and that represents a potentially significant box office power. If its muscles are flexed, we can expect three more of these movies. Hopefully, like the Harry Potter films, they'll get better as they go along.
•• Philly, Steven Rea: Rating 3/4
'You're not in Phoenix anymore," Charlie Swann tells his teenage girl, Bella, welcoming her to the rain-drenched, vampire-pocked Pacific Northwest town of Forks, Wash. And if that line echoes a famous one from The Wizard of Oz, well, so be it, because in Twilight - the surefire hit adaptation of the first book from Stephenie Meyer's mega-selling saga - Bella Swann, like Dorothy Gale, is in for the ride of her life.
A pheromone-drenched high school romance rife with heavy-duty Dracula stuff, Twilight - directed with savvy humor by Catherine Hardwicke - turns vampirism into a metaphor for teen lust.
When Bella (a soulful, scrutinizing Kristen Stewart) takes one look across the school cafeteria at the lush-lipped Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), sirens go off in her head. And the feeling is mutual: Lab partners in biology class, Edward can't control his attraction to Bella. It's biology, but it's chemistry, too: She emits a scent that vampire dudes inhale with urgency. Sitting next to her is driving him wild. Literally.
Bella is in Forks (just down the road from Twin Peaks, I'll wager) because her parents are divorced. Her mother, with whom she lived in Arizona, is traveling with her new husband. And Dad (Billy Burke), the town police chief, is glad, in his taciturn way, to have his daughter home. There's a period of adjustment - entering high school midway through the semester, she has no clique to call her own. But that's OK; Bella, with her iPod and her books, likes to keep to herself.
Until she meets Edward, that is, and suddenly her dreams are full of his lurking likeness. When a kid's car almost crushes Bella in the school parking lot, Edward, on the far side of the lot, is there in a flash - stopping the oncoming vehicle with a superheroic outstretched arm.
There are jokes about radioactive spiders and kryptonite, but then Bella is on the laptop, Googling vampires. She has sussed him out, his cold skin, his speed, his strength. But Edward and his family, a clan of pale-skinned stunners who live in a dazzling glass house in the mist-shrouded woods, aren't your typical bloodsuckers. They stick to animals, and leave the humans alone. Edward's father, Carlisle Cullen (Peter Facinelli), is, in fact, the town doctor.
Twilight manages the neat feat of radiating sexual heat at the same time that its pair of young lovers (well, she's young - he's been 17 for centuries) must remain ridiculously chaste. Even an innocent kiss could be lethal - or lead to a painful immortality.
Hardwicke, who showed a keen affinity for the female adolescent mind-set in Thirteen (and directed the teen skateboarding pic Lords of Dogtown), goes close-up on Stewart and Pattinson countless times. Chins aquiver, eyes shooting rockets at each other, it's about as intense a series of onscreen clinches as the movies have seen in ages. And amazingly, it feels real - the actors pull it off.
Twilight is a bit like the Harry Potters, sexed-up and set in the (kind of) real world. Misfit kids mess around with the supernatural (Twilight even substitutes a Quidditch match with a thunderstorm baseball session), and, certainly, there's the promise of a Potter-scale screen franchise.
Stewart, Pattinson and company should get cracking on Twilights 2 and 3 while they're young enough to plausibly play high school (Stewart's 18; Pattinson, who was the doomed Cedric Diggory in two Harry Potters, is 22).
There is, of course, a prom moment in Twilight - just after the flying battle between Edward and a rogue vampire who has the hots for Bella. And then Hardwicke sets up the sequel with an ominous appearance from a wicked vampiress, descending the stairs at the prom, looking hot - and venomous.
•• Philly, Gary Thompson: The movie, and the "Twilight" books, overtly conflate this urge with sexual desire, as vampire stories always have. The genius of the Twilight series is that it merges the mysterious sexuality of the vampire with teen girls' interest/anxiety about sex.
On that score, Edward has archetypal appeal. He is powerful, handsome and completely devoted, but functions as chaste protector - romance without the icky mess.
Older viewers are likely to find this comical, as when mind-reading Edward rescues Bella from a drunken band of sexual harassers, and spares her their "vile" and "disgusting" thoughts.
Vile and disgusting?
Can you give me an example?
But there is nothing to sully the purity of the Bella-Edward bond, and he finds other means to prove his epic love - first saving Bella from an out-of-control car, then interceding when an out-of-control vampire gets a whiff of Bella's irresistible blood fragrance and stalks her.
The late-game, rogue vampire plotline is meant to give "Twilight" an element of action and danger, but here the movie falls flat. It's short on creepy atmosphere (it's nothing next to "Let the Right One In"), something that might have given pouty Edward some much-needed edge.
Edward keeps insisting that he's a dangerous monster, but you never really feel that. With his foppish pompadour, he looks like lead singer for an '80s UK pop act, and feels about as threatening. It doesn't help that his wealthy, hipster vampire family lives in a posh modern home, and subsist on non-human blood.
They liken themselves to vegetarians, and I submit that if there's one thing contemporary cinema does not need, it is a vegetarian vampire.
That said, director Catherine Hardwicke ("Thirteen") gets teen-girl culture (the high school scenes are good) and other basic ingredients right. Pattinson and Stewart (she seems especially right for this role) have good chemistry, and there is real heat in their much-delayed first kiss.
Bella's ancillary relationships resonate as well. The bond that is most believable and earthy is father-daughter, with Billy Burke well cast as the decent, reticent sheriff who's out of his depth when it comes to his daughter's boy troubles. In a few brief scenes, we get why Bella both resents and needs her absent, daffy mom.
On balance, "Twilight" is an acceptable introduction to what is certain to be a profitable and long-running series, during which we might get the answers to looming questions.
Like why the privacy-loving Cullens are not home-schooled.
•• Dustin Putman: Rating 2/4
Based on the rabidly popular young adult novel by Stephenie Meyer (the first in a four-part series), "Twilight" begins well as a teenage slice-of-life, then takes a sudsy turn into romantic melodrama. That one-half of the lovebirds is a vampire, over one hundred years old but forever in the form of a studly 17-year-old boy, may have avid filmgoers feeling a sense of déjà vu. That would be because the superior Swedish film, "Let the Right One In," was released just a few weeks earlier and tells a very similar and more affecting tale between two 12-year-olds. If "Let the Right One In" is very much an R-rated horror picture, it is also undeniably sweet. "Twilight," by comparison, is a commercialized PG-13, going after a predominately female audience who don't mind that the story they are being fed is sappier than an elm tree in spring.
Directed by the radically uneven Catherine Hardwicke (2006's "The Nativity Story"), "Twilight" sparkles in its first act, and then loses its way big time. At the onset, Bella is portrayed as a bright, intelligent teenage girl who may be in a rough situation by moving in with a father she hasn't been very close to, but remains refreshingly mature about it. Free of the typical brooding adolescent histrionics often represented in cinema, Bella is a fresh and likable protagonist. The friends she makes at school, including Jessica (Anna Kendrick), Angela (Christian Serratos), Mike (Michael Welch), and Eric (Justin Chon), are also wonderfully written and free of stereotypes, each one nicely individualizing themselves from the others. Bella's initial interest in Edward after they are paired together in their biology class is also understated and effective. So far, so good.
Once Bella and Edward take their relationship to a higher level and become a couple, the film all but forgets about Bella's other friends in lieu of a ham-fisted love story, a clunky thriller subplot, and more cheesy dialogue than you can roll your eyes at. Bella, up until this point, has been a level-headed and efficient character, but she loses all of her sense and ambition the second she falls for Edward, agreeable to throwing her ambitions away in exchange for a chance to be with an immortal vampire. "I'm not afraid of you," Bella tells him, "I'm only afraid of losing you." Later on, he declares, "You are my life now." They've only been going out for a few weeks, mind you.
What do these two people see in each other? Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg (2006's "Step Up") fails to provide an answer, instead going the route of a mostly chaste Harlequin romance where development is downplayed while lines such as, "You're like my own personal brand of heroin," take precedence. Edward may be a "vegetarian" vampire, as he calls it—he only drinks the blood of animals—but that does not excuse the fact that he basically is taking advantage of a girl who is a century younger than he. When Bella discovers Edward in her bedroom in the middle of the night, and he tells her, "I like watching you sleep," the results are more skeevy than romantic.
The beautiful cast, bar none, look like Abercrombie & Fitch models fresh off the showroom floor. At least most of them are good actors, and they'd have to be to make the script work whatsoever. Kristen Stewart (2007's "Into the Wild") is an unconventional choice to play Bella in that she seems like too much of a progressive, liberal thinker to make her character's dimwitted actions believable. Try, she does, and Stewart pulls it off. As Edward, Robert Pattinson (2005's "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire") has a magnetic physical presence, but sometimes stumbles with stilted line readings. The supporting cast is strong across the board, with Taylor Lautner (2005's "Cheaper by the Dozen 2"), as Bella's childhood friend Jacob Black; Anna Kendrick (2003's "Camp"), as Jessica; and Christian Serratos (TV's "Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide"), as Angela, standing out.
Filmed in Oregon and Washington State, "Twilight" is rapturously shot by cinematographer Elliot Davis (2005's "Lords of Dogtown"), taking full advantage of the natural, untainted beauty of the Pacific Northwest surroundings. Effects work, with a preference for wire stunts and greenscreen over CGI, is top-notch. And, in a surprising twist on what is expected, Edward's family welcomes Bella into their home, even attempting to make her dinner despite not being able to eat themselves. Little details like this, and a complete revisionist take on conventional vampire lore, suggest a creative ambition that does not carry over to the romance between Bella and Edward. By the end, Bella comes off seeming like a foolish schoolgirl straight out of the 1950s, ready to give everything up for the creature of her dreams. By not being able to wholeheartedly rally behind their relationship, the picture crumbles around it. "Twilight" holds an archaic, pre-feminist mentality far more disturbing than any of its tame horror elements can boast.
•• Deseret News, Jeff Vice: The big-screen version of LDS author Stephenie Meyer's best-selling novel "Twilight" is what you might call a critic-proof movie. Like the recent "High School Musical" cinematic feature, fans and devotees are sure to see this film no matter how well — or how poorly — it's reviewed.
Fortunately, there's some good news in that regard. While this romanticized horror/fantasy tale is not exactly a classic redefining of the vampire mythology, it's not awful. In fact, it's better than the trailers suggest.
The ads teased that it was going to be something akin to one of the more-generic television series on the CW network. It does have some of those cheesy, teen soap elements, but it may also remind some of the beloved, original "Lost Boys" movie.
Some good casting certainly helps as well. Kristen Stewart ("Zathura," "Into the Wild") stars as Meyer's heroine, Bella Swan. She has just moved from Arizona to the Pacific Northwest where she's now living with her father, Charlie (Billy Burke), the police chief of a small town.
A few, friendly new classmates (Michael Welch, Anna Kendrick, Justin Chon and Christian Serratos) are trying to help Bella fit into her new surroundings, though she finds herself drawn to the mysterious Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), one of the stepsons of prominent physician Carlisle Cullen (Peter Facinelli).
But Edward warns her to keep away from him, and soon she discovers why. When he saves Bella from a potentially fatal auto mishap, Edward displays superhuman abilities, including speed and strength.
And eventually Edward reveals that he and his "family" are vampires, though he claims they are "vegetarians" that prey on animals rather than humans. However, something or someone has been attacking the normal townspeople recently.
Director Catherine Hardwicke ("The Nativity Story") gets in some trouble when she tries, unsuccessfully, to stage a couple of gimmicky action scenes (particularly a vampire battle sequence), but she's bailed out by screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg, who brings some of the dry, off-kilter humor sensibilities she displays as a producer and writer for Showtime's "Dexter."
Their adaptation is a little overstuffed with characters, but some human characters have been combined and some scenes have been rearranged or changed to keep things manageable.
And again, the leads are very likable and have chemistry. Stewart and Pattinson (the "Harry Potter" movies) sell their illicit relationship and make it surprisingly chaste. And an obvious romantic triangle that's teased, which involves Bella, Edward and her childhood friend, Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), seems promising. (It will presumably be explored further in the inevitable movie sequels, also based on Meyer's books.)
••IGN, Todd Gilchrist: According to my girlfriend – who has become obsessed with the series after reading all of the books in record time – Stephenie Meyer's Twilight is all about adolescent feelings and romantic longing with a little bit of vampirism thrown in to make the proceedings more fanciful. Given the glut of male wish-fulfillment that typically occupies the silver screen, there's certainly nothing wrong with any of those elements. Interestingly, however, Catherine Hardwicke's adaptation of the acclaimed first novel actually works best when it's indulging those thoughts and feelings most, producing an adaptation that's introspective and romantic enough to satisfy the franchise's diehard fans even if its clumsy execution is likely to distract those not already fully devoted to its combination of vampire mythology and teenage female melancholy.
Superficially, the prospect of watching a movie that focuses on how awkward teenage girls feel sounds like some sort of Saw-style psychological trap – one to make me appreciate how good my life is or at least appreciate that the majority of movies these days seem to focus mostly on blowing stuff up. But Hardwicke, whose directorial debut Thirteen (and to a lesser extent its follow-up, Lords of Dogtown) suggests she believes most teenagers are vile, sex-addicted drug addicts, crafts a believable and incredibly sympathetic portrait of teen angst which – bloodsucking melodrama aside – should resonate with viewers of all ages, much less genders. That Bella's constant stream of doubt, insecurities and second guesses always feels palpable and authentic is not merely a testament to Stewart's masterfully subtle performance but the source material and the script's ability to truly deconstruct that impassioned, unfocused but undeniable mindset.
At the same time, the film is considerably less successful in its depiction of vampirism, partially because of the natural awkwardness of manufacturing that kind of mythology within a realistic setting but mostly because the film's stunts and special effects are so poorly executed. While the climactic battle involving Bella, James and Edward is undeniably the worst constructed, shot and edited sequence in the film, the scene in which Edward reveals his true nature to Bella simply does not work in the way it's meant to, due as much to incredibly bad wire work and CGI-augmented "action" as the thankless, nonsensical monologue Pattinson has to deliver. Director Hardwicke seems out of her depth capturing anything other than the internal lives of her characters (admittedly, an enviable shortcoming), so some of her visual hallmarks don't always work (her choice of filming Bella's mom only in camera-addressing closeup made me recoil in my seat), while other choices – such as sporadic handheld camerawork – are emotionally misleading, if not visually disorienting.
Again, however, Hardwicke really seems to understand the roiling tide of emotion that Bella feels and manages to chronicle it in a way that translates to genuine, romantic atmosphere. Notwithstanding the otherwise inexplicable success of calculated, swoon-inducing moments such as Edward's silhouetted performance of Bella's song at the piano, the film really captures the sense of obsession and overwhelming passion she feels for Edward and makes the teen couple's relatively understated canoodling feel like the kind of unrestrained, pulse-quickening desire that typically reverberates in the characters of truly great love stories... or at least those of bodice-ripping romance novels.
Much of the credit for the film's success must go to the actors, in particular Stewart, Pattinson and Burke for finding the real blood in this bloodsucking saga. Stewart seems endlessly capable of finding some new thought or reaction to add to Bella's troubled, beautiful countenance in every moment, while Pattinson makes significantly more of dreamy Edward than his porcelain-skinned vampiric pout suggests possible. Burke offers a kind of arm's-length parental concern as Charlie that both gives Bella space to explore her budding relationship with Edward and demonstrates that her loneliness and self-imposed isolation is not without a sincerely protective, affectionate and (most importantly) purely realistic counterpoint. At the same time, Twilight's sheer volume of characters (no doubt a necessity given fan expectations) leaves smaller roles without much dimension, though at least one performance, by Thirteen's Nikki Reed, is so huffy and unbelievable that diminishing her screen time serves only to benefit the film.
Ultimately, I had no particular expectations – good or bad – going into Twilight, but I still found myself pleasantly surprised by the end result, perhaps due largely to the fact that as mentioned above I am not and likely will never be part of this film's intended audience. While obviously it's an imperfect work, I found myself more troubled by the parts I felt were aimed at me and less by the ones that were aimed at fans, or at least female viewers. In other words, all I kept thinking about while they blew stuff up was "when are they going to start talking about their feelings again?" Even with its vampire showdowns and monster mythologies, Twilight is above all else a commentary on the fears, hopes and dreams of teenagers – which is precisely why the movie works best when it ignores the superficial thrills of special effects and set pieces and chooses to examine the eminently sexier landscape of the characters' emotions.
•• The Scorecard Review, Jeff Bayer: Rating 5/10
It’s almost like people are expected to read the book, and that’s not the right way to go about an adaptation. The romance between Bella and Edward doesn’t feel powerful enough. This is the first time this guy has felt love in 100 years. And it never felt like it was on those terms. Plus, the vampires aren’t fully defined and they look awful. If I encounter anyone that pale in real life, I’m ramming a stake through their heart and asking questions later.
The small stuff is done right though. The father-daughter relationship is the comedic highlight of the film and the awkward high school stuff is spot on. That’s because Hardwicke has done this stuff before (and better) with Thirteen and Lords of Dogtown. Kristen Stewart is the right one to play Bella and the jury is still out on Edward. It seems like there will be three more chances for them to get it right (the sequels are already being adapted). Let’s hope they can sink their teeth into the next ones for the devoted fans, and so others can understand what all the fuss was about.
Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan: They found the perfect muse in Stewart. She fits into the Bella character perfectly, I just wish they would have spent more time developing her. We aren’t given great reasons why she loves Edward, and really that’s the key to all of her motivations. She’s also not given enough intelligence.
•• The Washington Post, Michael O'Sullivan: It's easy to understand the intensely estrogenic, tween- and teen-centric fascination with "Twilight," Stephenie Meyer's first in a series of four best-selling novels about the romance between a high school girl and a vampire. At least it's easy judging by the movie based on the book, which opens, appropriately enough, just after midnight tonight.
I never quite bought Edward's extraordinary running, jumping and tree-climbing ability, either. Hardwick relies too much on motion blur, a cheat that looks oddly dated, given the F/X capabilities evident in, say, the "Spider-Man" movies. And the scene in which Edward reveals what his skin looks like -- like diamonds, according to Meyer -- is frustratingly vague. "This is what I really look like," he says, stepping out of the constant fog into a rare shaft of sunlight. What? Out of focus?
But these are minor complaints. On the whole, "Twilight" works as both love story and vampire story, thanks mainly to the performances of its principals. Pattinson and Stewart want to convince you that their characters are an undead freak and the girl who, against all logic, loves him. Yet they do it not by selling you on what makes Edward and Bella so different, but by finding their flesh-and-blood humanity.
It's enough to make even a grown man eager for the inevitable sequel.
•• TwinCities, Chris Hewitt: If the folks from "The Hills" craved hemoglobin instead of Jimmy Choos, the result might be something like "Twilight."
A star-crossed romance complete with howlingly cheesy dialogue ("I'm the world's most dangerous predator; everything about me invites you in."/"I don't CARE!"), "Twilight" is based on Stephenie Meyer's popular horror/ romance novel, and the chief surprise is how little horror there is and how much romance. There are at least three dreamy-eyed-lovers-pose-against-mossy-rocks montages d'amour, and the whole misty, blue-tinged film looks like an overwrought rocker's album cover.
The good news? Director Catherine Hardwicke knows it's cheesy, and she does what she can to contain the fromage. "Twilight" is packed with wry, understated humor, and Hardwicke gets lively, authentic performances from her young cast, even when they're standing on northwestern U.S. moors and saying Bronte-ish stuff like, "That was the first night I dreamt of Edward Cullen." Yes, she says "dreamt."
Cullen is a pasty, noble member of a family of "vegetarian" vampires, so called because they feed on animal blood, not human. He's drawn to the new junior in school, Bella, because both of them are good at science and neither of them has any melanin. Their love cannot be, but it does be — in many, many languid scenes. Clearly, these kids have some big things to work out, since Edward can barely prevent himself from noshing on Bella's neck but, still, "Twilight" bogs down in the romance scenes.
It also spends too much time at Edward and Bella's boring high school, but there is genuine chemistry between Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, who play the young lovers. And that's probably all "Twilight" needs to please the book's legions of fans. After all, if you Google the word "twilight" right now, you'll discover the book and film have completely eclipsed interest in the once-popular time of day that comes just before sunset.
•• New York Mag, David Edelstein: It’s no mystery why Stephenie Meyer’s romantic vampire saga, Twilight, gets under the skin of so many young readers — and why the movie, although nowhere near as penetrating, will be the occasion for mass public swoon-a-thons. It’s the biochemistry angle. See, the gorgeous vampire, Edward, is driven mad with desire by the high-school heroine Isabella’s scent. She has just arrived in their remote Pacific Northwest town to live with her chief-of-police father. Edward smells her while they’re peering through a microscope, and his eyes become a feral yellow-black; and she soon loves him hungrily, too, in her ordinary teenage, raging-hormonal way, which is powerful enough. But in this universe, the vampire’s appetites cannot be controlled. One taste of her blood could trigger carnage on an operatic scale.
Meyer’s prose is skimmable, but her dialogue hits all the right beats; experiencing these two beautiful creatures’ enforced sexual suppression on the page made me feel like I was 17 again. But Twilight the movie is cautious, a sort of Tiger Beat–ified Twin Peaks. In its undercooked way, though, it’s enjoyable. A lot of people have so much invested in its being the biggest hot-date movie since Titanic that they’ll love it anyway, and their reactions will be part of the show. At the screening I went to, three rows of girls in the front shrieked at the entrance of Robert Pattinson and shrieked again when he locked eyes with Isabella (Kristen Stewart). He’s more my idea of a hunky Frankenstein Monster than a hunky vampire, with six inches of hair above six inches of forehead above a foot of face in too obvious white greasepaint. But he matches up with Stewart, who has a long face herself, although rather less lipstick. He tilts his head down and rolls his eyeballs up soulfully and tries to convey the hopelessness of their situation.
The emotion of these two is palpable, except they’re in the throes of intimacy before their intimacy has even been established. I think you’ll need to read the book to pick up on all the vibes, because the script by Melissa Rosenberg is barely functional. And even with the heroine’s narration, the director, Catherine Hardwicke, doesn’t bring us into Bella’s head as she’s observing Edward and his strange family of marbleized outsiders — his adopted parents and brothers and sisters. The idea that this pallid clan passes as human is a hoot; when Edward’s father, Carlisle, a much-loved doctor, strides into the hospital emergency room, he looks ready to host a Monster Chiller Horror Theater marathon.
Hardwicke jacks up the stakes with a swooping camera and a romantic-grunge soundtrack, but the most vivid thing in the film is Kristen Stewart. She was the leggy hobo-camp teen in love with Emile Hirsch in Into the Wild, and she’s better at conveying physical longing than any of the actors playing vampires. She alone suggests how this series was born, in the mind of a young Mormon girl who had to sublimate like mad with thoughts of having her blood sucked. Duncan Lance Black, the screenwriter of the gay-rights activist Harvey Milk biopic, Milk, opening next week, is also a Mormon, and it makes me wonder: With characters that veer between implosive sexual repression and explosive sexual liberation, are Mormons the new Catholics?
•• ReelTalk, Betty Jo Tucker: Fascinated even more by fan reactions than by what was happening on screen in Twilight, I now realize why so many teens have been looking forward to this movie. Combining the appeal of forbidden love with a seductive vampire theme, this romantic thriller lifts teenage longing and fantasy to new cinematic heights. However, not having read Stephenie Meyer’s mega-popular novel, I’m forced to restrict my comments to director Catherine Hardwicke’s movie -- plus the audience reception at the screening my husband and I attended.
Not since watching Waiting To Exhale have I heard such enthusiastic viewer support of the characters they’re watching. “You go, girl,” “Look at him,” “Ahhh,” “That’s just right” filled the theater. Yes, laughter erupted more than a few times, but none of it seemed derisive. The chuckles were usually evoked by something a fan probably recognized from the book and was delighted to see presented the way she (young women made up most of the audience) expected.
Obviously, these viewers love the Twilight characters -- especially Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, two teens who fall for each other despite the apparently insurmountable obstacle of Edward being a vampire. Portraying this unusual couple, Kristen Stewart (Zathura) and Robert Pattinson (Little Ashes) generate a poignant chemistry together. Although intrigued by each other at their very first meeting, Bella and Edward have a tough time understanding one another -- and the actors do a great job projecting what they must be going through.
Stewart makes us believe Bella’s all-consuming curiosity about Edward, and Pattinson gives Edward an aura of mystery that’s hard to resist. Dramatic close-ups by cinematographer Elliot Davis (The Nativity Story) help draw us into the budding romance of these two high school students.
More emotion-driven than plot heavy, Twilight deals with the problems Bella and Edward face in both of their worlds. Granted, Edward is not the type of vampire we usually see in movies. As a member of a “good vampire” group, he doesn’t want to harm humans. But he’s not happy being a vampire of any kind, and he feels protective of Bella, so he worries about what will happen to her if she forms a relationship with him. And, of course, Bella knows her father (Billy Burke), the police chief, would not approve of Edward if he discovered the truth about him. Adding even more danger to Bella’s life, a “bad vampire” (Cam Gigandet) begins to view her as his latest snack.
I’m amazed at the restraint used in making this film, particularly in the areas of make-up and special effects. The vampires look a bit different -- penetrating eyes, light skin and so forth -- but they’re not campy. Likewise, special effects are effective and not overdone. Case in point: Edward’s swifter-than-possible rescue of Bella in the first part of the movie. That brief, exciting sequence really impressed me because of its splendid camera work and editing – and so did the lively vampire baseball game.
Will Bella and Edward live happily ever after? That, after all, is the most important question here, which may take three more movies to answer fully. Author Meyer has also written New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn -- all Twilight follow-up novels -- and I understand Summit Entertainment just gave the go ahead for a film version of New Moon. Looks like the beginning of a very successful franchise. Eat your heart out, Anne Rice.
•• NewsBlaze, Kam Williams: Rating 4/4
Does this star-crossed romance stand a chance? Will Bella's dad, the shotgun-toting, local sheriff, solve the mystery of the serial killer who's been hunting for humans in time? Or, can the Cullen clan convince Edward that he'd be better off dating his own species?
These are the burning questions at the heart of Twilight, as inspired an overhaul of the vampire genre as you could ever hope to encounter. Directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen), the film is based on the phenomenally-popular series of young adult novels by Stephenie Meyer.
This visually-enchanting screen version is full of surprising twists, humorous asides and novel special effects all of which combine to keep the picture quite compelling. Another plus is the convincing chemistry generated by Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, a must when you're asking your leads to execute such an improbable-sounding premise. For what female in her right mind would stay in a relationship with a freak fond of frequently saying scary things like, "I'm a killer" and "I'm the world's most dangerous predator."
Most importantly, since we're essentially dealing with horror fare here, Twilight must be commended for serving up two hours of non-stop, edge-of-your-seat tension, as you never know what to expect next from this endlessly-inventive mindbender. The genre has certainly come a long way from I Was a Teenage Werewolf.
•• BuddyTV: Thankfully, Stewart and Pattinson have chemistry to burn, and it's easy to believe why they would be so enraptured with one another.
The real star of Twilight is Kristen Stewart, who imbues Bella with a deep soulfulness and relatability that helps ground the otherworldly proceedings. Having read the Twilight novel, I can honestly say that Meyer's version of Bella is one of the most poorly written heroines in literary history. She comes across as a klutzy, pre-feminist creation who spends all her time swooning, crying, falling down and obsessing over Edward. She also seems incapable of fighting her own battles, instead waiting for her man to swoop in and save her. Thankfully, the strong female trio of Hardwicke, Rosenberg and Stewart combine forces to make Bella more tough and independent on screen. She's not exactly a Buffy, but she does seem like a real, flesh and blood teenage girl.
•• The Observer: In the end, Pattinson and Stewart are the best parts of the movie. Young actors Stewart and Pattinson deserve praise for managing to play the supernatural story with genuine romantic ardor. The circulating rumor that the two share incredible chemistry is true.
The rest of the story rests on convincing readers and viewers alike that the pair would do anything for each other. Both of their portrayals are terrific, and even when the movie gets a bit silly, they never do. Stewart brings a fresh blend of ferocity and feeling to the role. And while Pattinson has already attracted a swooning teen fan base, viewers buy the fantasy because he goes beyond good looks to create a character you believe in. However, it is possible that a viewer who did not read the book would struggle to understand the true intensity of their relationship.
•• Reeling Reviews, Laura Clifford: Rating B
Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg (SHOtime's "Dexter") has culled a lot of the cruft from Meyer's bulky book without losing its essentials and director Catherine Hardwicke ("Thirteen," "Lords of Dogtown") has translated the trashy uber-gothic romance into something not so trashy. Ok, so if reading about vampires playing baseball sounded kind of dumb, there's not too much the filmmakers can do about that, but on the whole this is one of those rarities where the film improves upon the book. In its demographic, "Twilight" should pull in the same kind of repeat business "Titanic" had. The fans will be insatiable.
While Bella is pursued by popular jock Mike Newton (Michael Welch, "An American Crime"), albeit less ardently than in the book, she gets mixed signals from Edward, whose initial reaction to her seems nothing less than utter revulsion. He warms up over a science assignment, then saves her from being killed by another student's out of control SUV with moves that are physically impossible. He doesn't accompany her on a beach trip and when girlfriends snicker (jealously, of course) over his missing presence, the local native American Indians say his family never comes there. Childhood friend Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner, "The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D") tells Bella about his tribe's legend implicating the Cullens as supernatural beings. Bella does some Google searching and things begin to add up, unnatural speed, unnatural strength, cold skin...vampire. When she confronts Edward, he reveals his true self, but Bella will not be determined - she is in love. Edward takes her into the Cullen clan, amused that she is more worried about being accepted than being in a house full of vampires, but a traveling pack of bloodsuckers who don't stick to animal hunting like the Cullens do decide to take on Edward to get to the luscious Bella.
Robert Pattinson turns out to be the ideal gothic god despite a combination of lighting and makeup that give him more colors than a chameleon (he looks like he's been spackled and trying on lipstick when he first walks into the school caf, yet has perfectly warm skin tones in later closeups). This is a role that would have been tailor made for Johnny Depp twenty years ago, but Pattinson does it proud, resisting the urge to wink at some of the more risible, intact dialogue. In fact, he gives the character all the little nuances that make him more than just a Teen Beat cover, his acknowledgement of the nature of his predicament delivered with amused, self-loathing irony. His conflicting feelings for Bella are well articulated in both steamy looks and body language. Stewart is also perfectly cast as the human who is also an outsider who rejects dancing and sports because of her clumsiness (it is never explained why an Arizona sun worshipper is almost as pale as the Cullens though). The actress is serious, but not earnest, and adept at conveying teenage emotional turmoil with as little as a shrug of the shoulders. The two have loads of chemistry together, creating sparks through the friction of their push/pull relationship (it should be noted that the book's author is a Mormon whose church seriously denounces premarital sex and a principle theme of "Twilight" is sexual control).
Supporting talent varies from the fine Billy Burke ("Fracture," "Feast of Love") as Charlie Swan and Facinelli as the almost angelic Carlisle (at one point Hardwicke frames Edward in front of a stuffed snowy owl's wings, eliciting a storm of giggling from the teenaged girls at the preview screening). Anna Kendrick ("Camp") does good frenemy (the snark is toned down) as Bella's would be rival for Mike, Jessica Stanley and Ashley Greene is the right balance of friendly and offbeat as Edward's sympathetic sister Alice. Very notable is Jackson Rathbone as the 'newest' Cullen Jasper - the actor interprets the role as vaguely startled and it works. Nikki Reed's ("Thirteen") anti-Bella Rosalie is vaguely annoying though. Edi Gathegi ("Gone Baby Gone") is charismatic as the rogue vampires' Laurent, but as the tracker James Cam Gigandet ("Never Back Down") doesn't have the sinister romanticism of a master. The two mothers, Bella's Renee (Sarah Clarke, "24's" Nina Myers) and the Cullens' Esme (Elizabeth Reaser, "Sweet Land," "The Family Stone"), have little to work with to establish strong personalities. Watch for author Meyer as a counter customer in Forks' diner.
To her credit, Hardwicke punches the violence of the vampires so that one feels real power on screen. Stewart really relays the anguish and shock of a broken leg and vampire venom in the film's climatic scene, which also features a pretty hair raising vamp fight. The director also plays to teenage girls almost with tongue in cheek - parents may realize a field Bella and Edward lie in is impossibly rich with wildflowers. Effects of vampires covering vast distances in unreal time and leaping about treetops is done as effectively as it could without the benefit of flapping capes. The Coen brothers' regular composer, Carter Burwell, knocks the score, including 'Bella's Lullabye,' out of the park and the Emo soundtrack, which includes Paramore and Muse, should sell like hotcakes.
Unlike the "Harry Potter" series, which began generically and worked its way through a series of increasingly indie directors to find its tone, the "Twilight" series appears to be in capable hands right off the bat. The film ends with a number of allusions to future events while still wrapping neatly with the dreamiest of prom dates. "Twilight" may be the most surprising book to screen adaptation since Clint Eastwood tackled "The Bridges of Madison County."
•• Film School Rejects, Scott Beggs: Rating D
To whom it may concern: I’m not sure where to begin. There’s a lot of fantastic things about your film, a lot of gambles you took paid off, a lot of beauty. It had Catherine Hardwicke’s directing signature all over it. The style of the shots and the tone almost looked like a nicer, vampirey version of Thirteen. In fact, she seemed to round out the characters in a better way than even the book did. Certainly, she gave more life to the side characters.
Then there was the non-traditional narrative arc. Of course it follows the books fluidly, and the book hindered any chance of creating the usual sort of story development we see in every other film. For some, it’s going to seem like cinematic inertia – like there’s nothing pushing the story forward – but some are going to see it as a brave choice to create a different type of story.
The scenery is gorgeous, breath-taking. The climax is more intense than I would have expected, and more than a few things caught me off guard in a good way.
Which is why I couldn’t be more frustrated right now.
As you may know, I’ve read the books. I’ve met and talked with you – Mrs. Hardwicke, Mrs. Meyer, most of the cast. I desperately wanted to love this movie so that I could stand strong in support for the series which has been hard enough as it is. But the things in this movie that were bad were so jaw-numbingly awful that it destroyed the film for me. Even worse, it was always so close to being fantastic, that the albatross dragging it down was more aggravating than if the movie had just been average on its own.
You should realize that right around 90% of your film is fantastic – really brilliant stuff. Strong acting, good writing, interesting stories and genuinely funny moments that make for a complex, realistic look at adolescent life. But Holy Anne-Rice-on-a-Stick the other 10% is excruciatingly bad. So bad that I wanted to bite my own neck – a physical impossibility – to keep from groaning too loudly in a theater full of easily-enraged tweens.
Luckily, I know exactly how to fix your film. So listen up:
1. Get rid of the voice over. All of it. Seriously. When it wasn’t saying exactly what was going on in the scene it was insulting the audience (and Kristen Stewart’s acting ability) by telling us exactly what she was thinking, despite her accurately portraying it through body language and facial expressions. You had a good actress. You should have trusted her and the audience to get what she was thinking.
I wanted to strangle the voice over, and that’s a weird feeling – to want to strangle a disembodied voice. It was pointless and took us all the way out of the action.
2. Your musical score is the worst thing I’ve ever heard – it sounded like someone grew up worshiping The Cure and The Smiths, bought a second-hand Casio and went to town. Hire someone else. Avoid cheesy synth-pop. In that order.
3. For the sequel, beg for a ton more money for the special effects. It was like watching the first Harry Potter film, except you don’t have the excuse of being made in 2001. Also, it would seem as though a crappy company made a few business cards that read Industrial Light and Magic and are parading around pretending to be them. Summit, you should ask for your money back. And maybe press charges. You can add my name to the class action suit.
That’s pretty much it. Those three major things obliterated your movie. Well, those and the ten minutes of acting from Stewart and Pattinson that came straight from the As The World Turns School of Acting. If you wanted us to think they were bad actors, you shouldn’t have had them be so solid the rest of the film. And guess what? Even your twilighters were laughing at the unintentionally funny moment of Edward doing his impression of Dramatic Chipmunk in the high school parking lot.
Speaking of which, thanks for the multitude of pan-shots of Bella’s concerned face in said parking lot. It definitely didn’t seem repetitive at all.
For most audiences, the movie is going to be difficult to watch. In many ways it’s tailored-made for the hardcore fans, and in others, I fear it might fly right over their heads. It seems like you’ve taken a possible large franchise film and handed it over to an artistic indie director. The last time that happened, The Hulk was fighting giant CGI Poodles. Come to think of it, Twilight might have benefited from Edward tearing some giant poodles to bits. Scratch that. You wouldn’t have had the CGI money to do it anyway.
But even for fans, there’s going to be one major moment that disappoints: Edward’s crystal skin. About a half hour after the girls in the audience swoon over His Golden Eyes, they’ll scrunch their faces up at an anti-climactic shot of what should have been a pivotal moment. Edward gets as moody as he ever gets, shouting that he has the skin of a killer while the audience is forced to squint to struggle to see any minuscule change in his appearance while in the sun. The shot of them laying down in the sun later is a bit better, but overall, a moment that should have been a huge, literally shining moment for the character and the romantic development is overshadowed, again literally, by a lack of CGI or will to go all the way creatively.
Also, the two cliche-style horror-moment vampire attacks you slapped into the movie seemed more out of place than a die-hard Twilighter at a monster truck rally.
Overall, fans of the book are going to drool over this film, but you should know that it could be have been so much more. Just a few easy tweaks could have made this movie accessible to all movie-goers, could have won over the men and young boyfriends who are being dragged to see it. This movie will end up being the first kiss for countless twelve-year old boys, but most of them won’t look back on the film itself as anything special, which is sad.
With a truly orchestrated score, better CGI, and a little self-control when it came to the cheese-factor (including the voice over), this movie could have been solid. But I dislike movies that fail despite great potential even more than films that are just plain average overall, so your movie really bothered me. It’s just so close to being strong, that those few things that are unbalanced on the crap-side of the cinematic see-saw drag it down so thoroughly that I can’t help from being disappointed.
Better luck on the next one.
•• About Entertainment, Rebecca Murray: Rating 3/5
Twilight's a mix of the good, the bad, and the truly ugly. Fortunately for Twilight fans who've been working themselves into a frenzy over the film's anticipated release, what works in Twilight heavily outweighs what doesn't. Director Catherine Hardwicke and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg do a great job of not only capturing the tone of Stephenie Meyer's teen vampire romance book but improving it with dialogue grounded in reality and a batch of action scenes to fill in rocky storytelling spots. Twilight's cast also should be commended for nearly living up to Meyer's unobtainable standards.
Robert Pattinson (and his extraordinary head of hair) and Nikki Reed had particularly rough jobs as their characters are described with such hyperbole in Meyer's books that no human on the planet could possibly look the part. And let's face it – no one in the cast looks exactly how every reader pictured the characters. We all have different visions of Edward, Bella, and the Cullens floating around in our heads. So kudos to Pattinson and Reed for tackling roles that got them picked apart in pretty nasty reports when the initial word of their casting surfaced. Pattinson's and Reed's performances as Edward and Rosalie should silence all the naysayers.
The Good - Meyer's story takes place in Forks, Washington, and filming in the Pacific Northwest was absolutely the right decision. The gloomy, overcast skies further add to the brooding quality of the tale, and of course are necessary since these vampires come out in the daylight but stay out of the sun (their sparkling skin would be a dead giveaway they're something outside the norm).
Pattinson as Edward totally works. Now he's known to millions of Twilight supporters around the world, but Hardwicke cast him when practically no one (other than some Harry Potter people) knew his name. Pattinson took the film Edward to a slightly darker place than the book Edward, and in doing so made him more appealing - on multiple levels.
Also earning high marks are the performances by Billy Burke (Charlie), Taylor Lautner as Jacob (though his screen time is extremely limited), and the actors who play the Cullen family – Elizabeth Reaser (Esme), Peter Facinelli (Dr Carlisle Cullen), Nikki Reed (Rosalie), Kellan Lutz (Emmett), Jackson Rathbone (Jasper) and stand-out Ashley Greene whose Alice is exactly as written in Meyer's book series. Anna Kendrick, Justin Chon, Michael Welch, and Christian Serratos fill the roles of Bella's classmates and are actually more interesting as portrayed onscreen than in the novel thanks to Rosenberg's ability to speak teen.
The Bad - There aren't as many quiet romantic moments between Edward and Bella as there are in Meyer's book, which of course has a lot to do with the fact you cannot cram every page from the book into the feature film. Yet I really missed a few of the more memorable tender scenes between the two that stand out in the novel.
Also, the meadow scene… Well, it's not the book's meadow scene that's for sure. Still, it's in the movie and that's thanks to tireless campaigning by director Hardwicke who knew how important it was to Twilight fanatics. And, sadly, the baseball scene seems off. I can't put my finger on exactly what's wrong with it, but it feels a little forced and hokey at the same time. Maybe it's the baseball caps.
I'm also not sold on Kristen Stewart's performance as Bella. Sticking this in the 'bad' section is a stretch – she's a good actress and it's not like she delivered a terrible performance. It's just this Bella never seems happy, not even when she finds out the impossibly gorgeous vampire is in love with her. Does Stewart smile in the film? I honestly can't remember, but if she does it's a rare occurrence. I didn't buy Stewart as a teen in love.
•• Las Vegas Review Journal, Carol Cling: Yes, young love can really suck sometimes.
And, as Bella and Edward inevitably discover, their growing bond could prove dangerous -- for themselves and others.
Especially when you're worried about resisting your raging hormones -- and equally worried about how long your boyfriend can heroically resist his raging impulses to treat the red corpuscles coursing through your bloodstream as his very own private Big Gulp.
Not surprisingly, director Catherine Hardwicke treats both issues with equal emphasis.
A former production designer ("Tombstone"), Hardwicke made a striking 2003 directorial debut with "Thirteen" -- which she wrote with co-star Nikki Reed, who turns up in "Twilight" as Edward's petulant sibling Rosalie.
In that movie, in "Lords of Dogtown," even in "The Nativity Story," Hardwicke demonstrated her affinity for the everyday traumas of teen life.
That same facility serves her well in "Twilight." Even when screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg ("Step Up") veers toward the moodily melodramatic -- and, considering the movie's premise, it's tough not to -- Hardwicke keeps "Twilight" grounded in real, life-or-death emotions, no matter how far-fetched the conflicts become.
As a result, the movie's down-to-earth scenes seem far more compelling than its more supernaturally tinged ones, when Edward introduces Bella to his various vampire superpowers. (Or maybe it's because "Twilight's" budget limitations prevent the kind of splashy special-effects work we're used to seeing in big studio blockbusters.)
Fittingly, "Twilight's" performances keep the movie anchored in emotional reality -- even when the action heads into the realm of fantasy, prompting Edward's vampire family (led by Peter Facinelli and Elizabeth Reaser) to take action against a bloodthirsty rival ("Never Back Down's" gleefully predatory Cam Gigandet).
Pattinson broods with a gloomy intensity so intense it occasionally threatens to degenerate into campy melodrama. But Stewart ably balances vulnerability and determination, giving Bella an appealing directness that wins Edward's heart -- and ours.
•• Seacoast Online, Gina Carbone: This lion didn’t fall in love with the lamb, but she’s not about to eat it alive either.
“Twilight” isn’t a great film, but it’s better than I expected. Backhanded compliment, sure, but in a film with this much hype it’s nice to know not all of it was wasted. It’s still unintentionally funny in parts (Edward’s extreme reaction to Bella’s scent, his Elvis hair, any shot of Jasper) and the look is too low-budget (this is no place for “Thirteen” indie tricks), but the main elements of the story and the necessary chemistry between Edward and Bella are all there. And sometimes it’s even intentionally funny.
Full disclosure: I’ve read all four “Twilight” books, but only once and I failed to memorize any of them. So, like a New Englander who has only lived in a town for one generation, I’m not really part of the fold.
I throw that out there because “Twilight” is a film for fans. No shock there, but there are some people who might just consider seeing a vampire film over the weekend with no thought to the pop culture maelstrom they would enter. As a standalone film I couldn’t recommend “Twilight.” It’s too much tied to what fans can read between the lines of this book and what we know is coming in the next books. On its own, it’s a fairly thin Romeo & Juliet adaptation starring two good-looking youngsters we never really get to know.
What makes Edward (Robert Pattinson) such a draw beyond his dreamy amber eyes and crooked smile? What makes Bella (Kristen Stewart) such a catch to everyone — seriously, EVERYONE — in Forks, Wash., besides her status as our protagonist? We get to know her a little bit more since it’s her voice-over we hear and her life we’re following, but we stay mostly detached from Edward and the Cullens. The very brief backstory given would not be enough for me if I didn’t know the details from the books.
A great deal rests on the chemistry between Edward and Bella. For this I credit the casting of Stewart as Bella. From chapter one I’ve been frustrated with this weak and whiny damsel in distress. But Stewart – who was perfect as Jodie Foster’s tough daughter in “Panic Room” — gives Bella a strength that never came through for me in print.
Pattinson I questioned and I’m still not 100 percent sold on him, but as long as the camera zooms in on his eyes and smile, he’s fine. And after a rocky start in science class (my audience of fans laughed out loud at his reaction to Bella’s scent) Pattinson’s Edward grew on me. His scene with Bella in her bedroom is pretty close to the electricity in the book.
The film gets stronger in its second half, after Bella figures out what Edward is and the other vampires come onto the scene. A good dose of action cures melodrama any day.
If I had to choose one thing in “Twilight” to take great issue with, it would be the Cullens. Their home is fantastic — better location and production design than I ever would have expected. Bravo. But the Cullens themselves are wasted. These are meant to be gorgeous mysterious creatures that inspire fear, envy and awe. Instead they are not terribly attractive or charismatic. (We’re stuck with this group for three more films? Ech.)
At least Alice (Ashley Greene) should’ve been given a bit more to do. She and Jacob (Taylor Lautner) are my two favorite characters from the books. (Yes, I’m Team Jacob. Sorry.) But here Alice is the equivalent of Fleur in the film adaptation of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” Just background.
Jacob gets a little bit more play, but mostly he grins at Bella. Everyone loves Bella. That’s one of the reasons so many teen girls love “Twilight.” Total wish fulfillment. She’s the quiet, pale, clumsy girl who becomes the center of attention in a town that’s like a rainy “High School Musical.” Instant popularity.
And everyone is actually quite diverse for such a small town. Every racial group appears to be represented. This is refreshing and seems like a conscious attempt by director Catherine Hardwicke and company to pump in some new blood.
It would be hard — almost impossible — for a “Twilight” adaptation not to be cheesy. Stephenie Meyer wrote four cheesy novels. Junk food for wistful souls. Judy Blume meets Anne Rice. Et cetera. No wonder there are so many parodies out there. So it doesn’t surprise me that two of my favorite scenes from the film were either changed from the book or not there at all.
One of the most romantic moments in the film comes when Edward and Bella are in his room and he forces her to dance. Never happened in the book. Also, at the end, they share another romantic moment at the prom — but none of the other Cullens are there and they were supposed to be. I would’ve liked to have seen them, but when Edward lightly kisses Bella’s neck, I had a brief tween moment myself.
There are a few missed opportunities in “Twilight” and certainly not enough depth, but this is no disaster. It’s like the scene in the woods where Edward first stands in the sun. His skin is supposed to sparkle and dazzle. And there is some sparkle. Some. It’s there and there could be more, but it’s enough to get by.
•• Rolling Stone, Peter Travers: Rating 2,5/4
Bummer. The vampires have no fangs. The humans are humdrum. The special effects and makeup define cheeseball. And the movie crowds in so many characters from Stephenie Meyer's book that Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen) is less a director than a traffic cop. But there's a reason that Twilight has already become the movie equivalent of a bestseller: The love story has teeth.
Props to Kristen Stewart, 18, and Robert Pattinson, 22, for playing this uncool-girl-meets-undead-boy story with genuine romantic ardor. They're both terrific. Even when the movie gets really silly, they never do. Stewart (Panic Room, Into the Wild) brings just the right blend of ferocity and feeling to the role of Bella Swan, the loner from Phoenix who leaves her mom to live with her police-chief dad in rarely sunny (hint! hint!) Washington state.
Readers of Meyer's young-adult novel know that the tale continues through three more books (New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn). And, damn, it helps if you read them. Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg (Step Up) struggles hard to stay faithful to Meyer, resulting in a script that rolls out like a Cliffs Notes outline, with each character popping up for a cameo and a brief résumé: James (Cam Gigandet) is a vamp who won't settle for Carlisle's tofu and wants to snack on Bella. Bella's pal Jacob (Taylor Lautner) is a werewolf. You'll need a score card. My advice: Focus on Pattinson and Stewart. They make you understand why the books sold 17 million copies. Love makes the world go round. Even if you're dead.
•• The Washington Times: “Twilight” isn’t quite “Transylvania 90210,” but if you inserted a few vampires into West Beverly High and moved the school up to the perpetually cloudy Washington countryside, it’d be close.
Kristen Stewart stars as Bella Swan, a girl who, as the movie opens, has just moved up from Phoenix to live with her father (Billy Burke). Charlie Swan is the town’s sheriff, and his relationship with Bella could best be described as distant but very affectionate; he clearly loves his daughter, but after so long apart is unsure how to relate to her. The same could be said of Bella. Very few films handle the awkwardness of divorce as honestly as “Twilight” does.
Another strength of this vampiric love story is Bella’s introduction to her new school. This isn’t your typical movie high school, one in which Bella must choose which clique she fits into. Although the Cullen kids (we’ll get to them in a minute) keep to themselves, everyone else seems to mix nicely; it’s a surprisingly honest portrayal of high school life, one that avoids the hoary cliches of jocks versus nerds versus stoners.
“Twilight” shares a weakness common to most introductory chapters in a multivolume tale. It takes so long to introduce the characters and create a convincing universe that by the time conflict arises - in this case, an evil vampire from a different clan who threatens to harm Bella in order to spark a confrontation with Edward - the action feels forced, unnecessary and rushed. The last half hour isn’t quite a mess, but it isn’t terribly interesting either.
The first 90 minutes, however, are surprisingly good. Miss Stewart is one of the finest young actresses working today, and she plays off of Mr. Pattinson’s brooding intensity with just the right touch of innocence and wariness. Look also for an outstanding turn by Peter Facinelli as the Cullen clan’s paterfamilias, Dr. Carlisle Cullen. It’s hard not to get sucked in - if one can get past the sometimes hokey, melodramatic teenage dialogue. (Sample laugher: “Your scent is like a drug to me. You’re like my own personal brand of heroin.”)
This is the first in a long string of “Twilight” movies (a series of sequels have already been greenlit), and intriguing questions remain. A stronger second act is certainly possible, considering this impressive setup.
•• Sun Sentinel, Rick Bentley McClatchy: Rating 3/4
Stop worrying. Hardwicke's is a very loyal big-screen version of the lengthy book. A few minor scenes have been deleted. A couple of sequences got condensed. But overall, the film unfolds the same way the pages turn.
That's not necessarily a great thing. More on that later.
Hardwicke tenderly builds the love story of the emotionally lost Bella (Kristen Stewart) and BVOC (Big Vampire On Campus) Edward (Robert Pattinson). Their relationship develops under cloudy skies. That's not being metaphorical. Vampires have blingish skin that sparkles in sunlight.
Meyer's book is divided into two distinct parts. The first three-quarters depicts the growing relationship between the two. He meets her family. She meets his vegetarian (they drink only animal blood) vampire family. They go to school. They date. And eventually Edward overcomes his deep desire to drain her blood so they can be the ultimate star-crossed lovers.
The action picks up in the last fourth of the book, when Bella becomes the blue-plate special for a group of vampires.
Hardwicke's biggest change of direction from the book is to sprinkle some of the action through the early part of the film. Purists may beat their chests. But it does make the film move at a better pace. And it should be more appealing to the male dates who have agreed to sit through Twilight.
Debates have raged over the casting of Pattinson and Stewart, but their work should silence many of the critics. Pattinson makes brooding a science. And Stewart finds the right blend of strength and vulnerability to play Bella.
The supporting cast is strong, especially Nikki Reed as the headstrong Rosalie and Rachelle Lefevre as Victoria. And the non-vampire high school students are the best supporting cast in a vampire tale since the days of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.
And now for the problem of making such a loyal adaptation: The special abilities of the vampires, such as super speed, looks gimmicky. Scenes in which Edward races or flies through the forest come across as bad puppet theater. And there is something about the pale skin of the vampires that seems less bland in the book.
These are small flaws in a production that should soothe the savage Twilight beasts.
•• The Florida Times Union, Matt Soergel: Rating 3,5/4
Twilight is about a girl who falls desperately in love with a handsome teenage vampire, so you have to accept some storytelling liberties.
Wait, there are vampires who drive convertibles?
But the film works because it's so refreshingly matter-of-fact about its fantastical story. It doesn't hurt either that it's romantic, smart, likable and often quite funny, without any tacked-on snarkiness or desperate hipness.
This adaptation of the first book in Stephenie Meyer's hugely popular series is aimed right at its fans, and it does not let them down. It's about Bella Swan, the new girl in perpetually rainy Forks, Wash., who falls for Edward Cullen, her lab partner in biology.
Sure, he's on "a special diet." He has cold hands. And he skips school on sunny days. But he's gorgeous — that pale skin, those strange eyes — and mysterious, plus he saves her life a couple of times. And he broods as intensely as Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, though for not nearly as long.
Twilight is as forthright as its heroine, who comes across as an appealingly real teenager, pensive and intelligent. The story doesn't fuss around with phony complications and teases: It makes the points it wants to without much dawdling. And Bella is bright enough that she figures out what Edward is with just a few clues and a simple Google search.
"How long have you been 17?" she asks him. "Awhile," he admits. Edward protests that he's not good for her, mostly because he's awfully tempted to drain her of blood. But Bella is sure enough of her own mind and heart that she doesn't see this whole vampire thing as that big a stumbling block.
"I don't have the strength to stay away from you anymore," says Edward. "Then don't," says Bella.
Director Catherine Hardwicke has made a couple of gritty, realistic movies, Thirteen and Lords of Dogtown, that get at the exhilarating and disorienting effects of being a teenager. She brings that sensibility to Twilight, which - though it has some special effects - is more concerned with matters of the young heart.
Her cast is terrific. As Bella, Kristen Stewart of Into the Wild gives one of the best performances of the year. It seems effortless, which is no doubt credit to the work involved in seeming so authentic.
And Robert Pattinson (a British actor who was Cedric Diggory in the Harry Potter movies) is more than up to his job as the impossibly perfect vampire. He could have been annoyingly smug, but he manages to find both humor and passion in his situation.
There's also a solid, amusing cast of supporting characters - human, vampire and werewolf.
Twilight builds to a biggish action finish that isn't quite as appealing as what went before. Indeed, its fans are more likely to swoon over the tender moments in which Bella, as in the best vampire movies, offers her exposed neck to Edward. He, gentleman vampire that he is, has to fight the temptation to sink his fangs into her.
And that makes a fine case that restraint is more tantalizing than just jumping right in.
•• Reel Film, David Nusair: Rating 3/4
Based on the best-seller by Stephenie Meyer, Twilight follows awkward teen Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) as she moves to Forks, Washington and inevitably falls for a mysterious boy named Edward (Robert Pattinson). Director Catherine Hardwicke - working from Melissa Rosenberg's screenplay - does a superb job of capturing the feel of Meyer's admittedly evocative novel, as the film has been infused with a deliberate pace that proves instrumental in establishing (and perpetuating) the source material's very specific atmosphere. And although Hardwicke is rarely able to get inside Bella's head to the same extent as the book, Twilight benefits substantially from the palpable chemistry between Stewart and Pattinson - with the strength of Bella and Edward's budding relationship effectively carrying the proceedings through its sporadically less-than-enthralling stretches. The stars' superb work is matched by an impressive supporting cast that includes Billy Burke, Nikki Reed, and Anna Kendrick, and it's subsequently increasingly difficult not to become wrapped up in the unabashedly melodramatic exploits of the various characters. The thrilling, unexpectedly propulsive third act - in which Bella is pursued by an evil vampire named James (Cam Gigandet) - ensures that Twilight concludes on a thoroughly positive note, thus cementing the movie's place as an apt adaptation that effectively lays the groundwork for future installments.
•• Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Turan: I am not now nor have I ever been a 13-year-old girl, but "Twilight" made me wish I could be, at least for a couple of hours, the better to appreciate a movie that has been targeted to that demographic with the delicious specificity of a laser weapon.
In case there are no teens in your immediate vicinity, "Twilight" is based on the book by Stephenie Meyer, the first of a quartet that has sold 25 million copies worldwide and been translated into 37 languages. Meyer is not exactly a great literary stylist but she has come up with one heck of a romantic concept. But let her 17-year-old heroine, Bella Swan, beloved of Edward Cullen, tell you all about it: "About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him, and I didn't know how dominant that part might be, that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him."
As romance fans know, love needs obstacles to hold our interest, and in this egalitarian age, obstacles are hard to come by. The Oscar-winning "Ghost" of several years back had one lover living, the other deceased, and "Twilight's" notion that he's undead and she's not is just as good, maybe better. Connecting this to the extreme emotions of the young teenage world, where every moment is a crisis and the chaste romance of passionate soul mates is more attractive than dubious sexual shenanigans, was the masterstroke that created a phenomenon.
It's very much to the credit of director Catherine Hardwicke and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg that "Twilight" the movie really gets this. This film succeeds, likely unreservedly for teens and in a classic guilty pleasure kind of way for adults, because it treats high school emotions with unwavering, uncompromising seriousness. Much as you may not want to, you have to acknowledge what's been accomplished here.
For openers, neither Laurence Olivier attempting Shakespeare nor Konstantin Stanislavski tackling Chekhov approached their material with the degree of reverence that Hardwicke brings to "Twilight." A director whose entire career ("Thirteen," "Lords of Dogtown," even "The Nativity Story") has been built on the veneration of young adults, Hardwicke has connected so intensely to the Meyer novel that it's hard to imagine anyone else making a better version.
Hardwicke also was instrumental in casting Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson as the star-crossed Bella and Edward, and those choices were excellent, not only because they're skilled performers but also because they too threw themselves into their parts as if they were Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor doing "Camille" for George Cukor.
Stewart made an impression as Emile Hirsch's wannabe girlfriend in Sean Penn's "Into the Wild" because, Hardwicke has said, "I felt her yearning -- it was just palpable," and it is that quality that sets the tone for the entire film.
Though Hardwicke gamely ups the film's action quotient to appeal to the random males who might think of showing up, "Twilight" is unabashedly a romance. All the story's inherent silliness aside, it is intent on conveying the magic of meeting that one special person you've been waiting for. Maybe it is possible to be 13 and female for a few hours after all.
•• Movie City News, Kim Voynar: Stewart is a fine, talented actress, and she ups the ante considerably here; her strong performance makes of Twilight a far better film than it would have been with a lesser actress in the part.
•• Flick Filosopher, MaryAnn Johanson: Wow, I feel like I so have to Twitter everyone in the world and tell them to See. This. Movie. And not just because Robert Pattinson is the best Edward there could ever be. (I never even heard of him before, it’s not like he’s superfamous like Zac Efron or anyone, but I hope he wins an Oscar now, he’s that cute!) Because it’s not like this is only for people who read Stephanie Meyer’s book of Twilight — although who didn’t! It’s like an actual grownup movie, all serious and important. Like you can tell how beautiful the vampires are supposed to be because everything gets slow and sparkly when they walk by — and I mean even when they’re not in sunlight LOL! (Edward looks amazing when he sparkles in the sunlight! I always thought that was very clever of the book writer to invent a whole new thing about vampires and why they don’t go in the sun.) Or sometimes when other important things are happening, everything gets slow and the music gets real loud and Edward looks like he’s gonna cry. Those are the best moments ever, because then it’s like the director can’t even move the camera from him, he’s that gorgeous. But the director is named Catherine Hardwicke, which is a girl’s name, and what else would you expect!
I’m so excited that it sounds like I’m talking real fast even though I’m writing, which is what happens when I’m really excited. I’ll try to slow down and explain things better.
Twilight is all about Bella, who is a junior in high school, so she’s pretty grownup already LOL! She’s smart and beautiful and super nice and everybody loves her at her new school in Forks, which is in Seattle-Washington, not White-House-Washington. She’s also really deep and thoughtful, which you can tell because she talks to us through the movie, like a voiceover, and tells us her feelings and explains things that are happening, which is really nice of her so we can keep up. It’s like you want to be her best friend, and you wish she was your best friend, because she’s so cool and perfect. She’s not even stuck up about being so pretty! (Bella is played by Kristen Stewart, who is also very pretty and I bet super nice too.) Her school is even better than the High School Musical school because even though in both schools it’s like a total fantasy that everybody is so nice to each other and everyone is everyone’s best friend, here it’s a serious grownup story and not just a bunch of nice kids singing and dancing, which is okay for little kids but not for more mature kids.
It’s like so totally romantic and perfect! Edward is even the best lab partner ever — he knows all the answers to stupid biology questions so you can totally just let him do all the work. But it’s not like Bella is dumb. She uses Google to figure out all the stuff about Edward being a vampire. (Though I think everyone else in town and at the school might be a little stupid, because how could they not have figured out that all those weird but beautiful and very pale people are vampires LOL!) And it’s exotic, too, because Bella’s Indian friend Jacob is here too. He has Indian wisdom for her about vampires and stuff, and it’s so cool. Of course we all know what happens with Jacob in the next book and OMG the next movie please!
•• Spartan Daily: "Twilight" is a movie for people of all ages, despite what some might say about its adolescent appeal.
I didn't feel any shame as I lined up with hordes of teenage girls and boys at the first midnight showing of the film on Thursday night.
With no big names on the roster, "Twilight" stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, who play the roles of Edward and Bella, the lead characters in the story.
Even as attractive as they are, the characters didn't look exactly as I imagined.
Watching Bella and Edward fall in love on-screen was exciting. The chemistry between Pattinson and Stewart was obvious and believable.
Pattinson's chiseled features and strong jaw kept girls swooning throughout the movie.
Also notable were the roles of James, a vampire with bad intentions, played by Cam Gigandet, and Taylor Lautner, who brought to life the role of Jacob Black, the young Quileute American Indian who befriends Bella.
Pattinson and Stewart invoked a great Hollywood romance and brought it to life. The roles of Edward and Bella were the parts that these young actors were born to play.
Although the movie appeared to be slightly low-budget, and the special effects could have been a lot better, the great cast of characters really brought the film to life.
The scenic setting, full of mossy greens and dreary rain, was exactly how I pictured the town of Forks, Wash., to look like.
My only wish was for the film to have stuck to the original storyline a little more.
This movie is almost better for someone who hasn't read the book a few times because the little differences between the book and the film were notable.
First off, Edward's character in the movie lacked the humor that was shown in the book.
I also didn't care for the cheesy scenes when the Cullen family transforms into vampires.
I wished that Edward's shiny, silver Volvo wasn't a hatchback in the film.
My favorite part of the film is near the end, when Edward takes Bella to the prom. The scene where they are dancing outside tugged at my heartstrings and stayed with me long after I had left the theater.
The opening of "Twilight" was also notable for director Catherine Hardwicke, as it marked the biggest opening ever for a female director, according to Yahoo! News.
Plans are already in motion for the filming of "New Moon," the second installment in the series.
I, for one, can't wait.
•• The Georgetown Independent: In print, Bella Swan is often criticized for being overly passive and constantly in need of rescue. Kristen Stewart's delicate, nuanced interpretation of Bella fleshes out her character adding a much-needed spunk and backbone, but also gives her a guardedness and introversion that go a long way in explaining why her connection to Edward is so unusual and important to her.
•• Standard Examiner: I had qualms about the actor choices before seeing the movie -- I thought Kristen Stewart was too skinny and sharp-featured to play soft, fragile Bella but Robert Pattinson sufficed for Edward's cold, pale looks. However, in the quality of acting, my opinions changed. Stewart was brilliant, a real, believable portrayal of Bella.
A plus: Anytime the couple were simply gazing into each other's eyes (which happens quite often), there were definite sparks, so at least the actors had great chemistry.
•• The Sacramento Bee: That expectation might not exist were co-star Stewart more dynamic. Unremarkable apart from her resemblance to Lindsay Lohan's companion Samantha Ronson, Stewart is in some ways a fine choice for Bella, the clumsy, self-effacing everygirl to whom most readers of the novel could relate.
Stewart does her best acting opposite Burke.
•• Jo Reviews: Rating 4/5
What’s all the fuss about? I along with many others will find themselves asking this question when discussing the film “Twilight”. I was unaware of the pandemonium surrounding this film until recently. “Twilight” is based on a novel, one in a series of four, which has been the #1 best seller on the New York Times best selling series for thirty weeks and counting. A novel released back in 2005 by Stephanie Meyer. A book finally brought to the big screen with assistance from director Catherine Hardwicke. A modern day romance starring new comers Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan and Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen.
Bella has recently relocated to the small town of Forks, Washington from Phoenix, Arizona. Moving to Forks to live with her father, as her mother travels with her husband to Florida. Bella feels like an outsider at first at her new school, but soon finds an undeniable attraction to Edward. The attraction only intensifies when Edward uses his un-human strength to save Bella’s life. Soon Bella can not stay away from Edward and only finds his mysteriousness a new obsession of hers. Once Bella reveals the truth to Edward that she knows he is known as the “cold one”, what we know as a vampire and she is not afraid, he gives into his temptation and decides not to push her away anymore. As Edward so eloquently puts it, “The Lamb fell for the Lion.”
The story only intensifies when Bella’s safety is put on the line and Edward is forced to send her away for her protection. Of course things do not go as planned and Bella does fall victim, will her soul mate be there when she needs rescuing or will she suffer for her desire to be with the undead? Now that you know what all the fuss is about, you’ll find yourself wanting to read the best selling novel. I have heard the movie does not surpass the novel, but from a one viewing opinion I loved it. I thought the intensity and old time romance feel the film had was just the right touch. Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson had amazing chemistry and performances. The mood of the film was played out by the scenery offered, the ominous clouds and forest of trees and fog. A must see and a must for a sequel. Can anyone say New Moon 2010?
•• Movie Crypt, Grim D. Reaper: Rating 2,5/4
Based on the book series by Stephenie Meyer, it’s no secret that this is a vampire love story for the ‘tween set. Combining both elements of gothic horror with high school drama, the film comes off like the next “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” but without the slayer and more soap opera elements than an actual body count. Still, there’s something interesting about the concept, especially when compared to HBO’s “True Blood” series based on the “Southern Vampires” books. Working against the seriousness, however, are scenes that include a preppy vampire family making dinner for their human guest; with almost too many characters for an actual film, maybe someone should have considered this for a television series from the beginning rather than a feature film franchise.
Like most “teens in trouble” vampire flicks, most notably The Lost Boys, the parents seem to remain happily clueless as do all the uninformed characters, so the drama is mostly carried by the main characters. In spite of rather cheesy and cliche advertising posters and trailers, Kristen Stewart’s portrayal of Bella with Robert Pattinson’s of Edward manage to keep us interested even during the most ridiculous moments of the story. Edward’s hair and eyebrows should almost have their own character credit, but Pattinson’s portrayal of Edward’s tangible fascination in Bella could make wearing a puffy pirate shirt forgivable.
Another bit that disappoints are the moments of potential physical contact dissolving into incoherent conversations that the audience isn’t privy to. While a suggestion of abstinence toward the target audience may not be a bad thing, watching the main characters having an enriching conversation montage rather than actually hearing it is a pretty cheap device. For fans of the vampire genre who are older than twenty-five, some of the scenes will certainly appear tame (as well as the ending far too long), but as the two-hundredth-plus revision of vampire legend, there are enough clever revelations to at least warrant a viewing.
•• Shadows On The Wall, Rich Cline: Targeted squarely at teen girls, this deeply romantic thriller delivers exactly what its audience wants. But everyone else will find plenty to enjoy as well in this thoughtful, well-made thriller.
Bella (Stewart) is a 17-year-old who moves from sunny Arizona to rainy Washington to live with her police-chief dad (Burke). She quietly begins to make friends, and is intrigued by a family of creepy outsiders adopted by the town doctor (Facinelli). The specific target of her affection is the emo dreamboat Edward (Pattinson), who seems initially repulsed by Bella. But it eventually becomes clear that he's trying to resist the desire she sparks in his heightened vampire senses.
Director Hardwicke builds a densely coloured atmosphere, but keeps the story centred on the characters. Although there are scary moments, the film remains grounded in the high school milieu. This includes segregating the characters into Bella's friends, Edward's family, the local Native Americans and a rival "meat-eating" vampire clan. The push and pull between these groups give the film a texture that holds our interest even when things get a bit swoony.
Meanwhile, the young cast members deliver strong performances--another Hardwicke trademark. Stewart is terrific balancing big emotions with dry comedy. The snappy, witty acting helps make up for the gloomy atmosphere, and also undercuts the epic-romance overtones ("I don't have the strength to stay away from you any more." "Then don't!"). That said, it is genuinely emotional ("You don't know how long I've waited for you!"), and there's a strong sense both that Edward can finally be himself and that Bella is thrilled to find someone who, ahem, yearns for her blood but won't take that bite. But that first kiss is sure hot.
Overall, the film is a little too cool for its own good, cheesy effects work notwithstanding. In the final act, an undercooked thriller plot threatens to take over, but is held in check to offer a more resonant kick that bodes well for the next chapter. Yes, this is based on the first in Stephenie Meyer's mega-selling four-book series, and sequels are already in the works. So if the characters feel unusually detailed for a teen movie, perhaps that's a hint of what's still to come.
•• Washington City Paper, Tricia Olszewski: An actor faces a lot of pressure when tapped to embody a beloved fictional character. But try living up to fan expectations when the author who birthed said character describes him as “devastatingly, inhumanly beautiful,” with a “musical voice” and “soft, enchanting laugh.”
Those adjectives — along with many, many others that reiterate his perfection — add up to Edward Cullen, the heartthrob teenage vampire who helped Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series become exalted as “the next Harry Potter.” Which would be accurate, if only the novels were better written. And the stories appealed to boys as well as giggly girls (albeit of all ages, apparently). And — most crucial — if the franchise's inaugural big-screen adaptation by director Catherine Hardwicke didn't suck more than its vampires actually do.
Twilight is not Bram Stoker's Dracula. Meyer threw out all the vampiric rules to make Edward (Robert Pattinson) and the other baby Nosferatus in his family sexier, more glam — because, ew, who'd want to read about a hottie who weakens or combusts in sunlight when he could just, well, sparkle instead? Yes, when Edward insists on showing his new love, a mortal named Bella (Kristen Stewart), what he looks like when the sky's not gray, you might expect something frightening. Instead, he glistens as if covered with Urban Decay glitter. Dreamy! And forget about needing to be invited into someone's home. Edward pops up in Bella's bedroom whenever he feels like it, which is totally hot.
Really, though, Twilight is Bella's story, and scripter Melissa Rosenberg (Step Up) does a fair-to-inadequate job translating the novel's first-person introspection to the screen. Bella is a junior in high school who's moved from her native Phoenix to Forks, Wash., to live with her father, whom she irritatingly calls Charlie (Billy Burke). She hates the rain and the goofy guys who hit on her, but nonetheless becomes friends with the goofiest of the lot, Mike, and the girl who's crushing on him, Jessica (Michael Welch and the usually bitch-cast Anna Kedrick, both of whom give the truest portrayals of their literary origins even in their reduced roles).
Bella stops minding the perpetually overcast weather, though, when she becomes drawn to Edward, a master at playing hard-to-get who hangs only with the rest of his pale, odd foster siblings and nearly busts a dusty blood vessel when Bella ends up sitting next to him in biology class. He glowers and clenches his fists; she naturally swoons, even though it's a love-hate thing for a while because she doesn't understand how someone could act so angry at her when they haven't even spoken.
Edward soon softens around Bella and eventually reveals a few of his quirks: One, his eyes change color. Two, he and his family skip school to go “camping” on sunny days. And three, Edward had to ball his fists and storm out of bio because he was pretty close to chowing down on her fair neck.
Edward can also read minds, but he can't read Bella's, part of what marks her as his “own personal brand of heroin.” But because the Cullens' patriarch, a doctor named Carlisle (Peter Facinelli), has taught his brood to snack only on animals and not on humans — to lessen that whole monster angle — Edward cautiously courts the tasty new girl.
The will-they-or-won't-they tension that's rather titillating in the book is all but lost on screen, though. The problem isn't Stewart, best known for Into the Wild and a believable, likable Bella who trips in all the right places. (Meyer saddled her with a case of clumsiness that's as unsubtle as Edward's flawlessness.) Not even Pattinson's to blame — rather, it's that Hardwicke's interpretation of Edward and his fellow vampires is as ludicrous as Meyer's vision was unachievable.
Try not to laugh when you first see Dr. Cullen at the hospital, treating Bella after an accident: Even among pale Washingtonians, Facinelli's Carlisle looks like an albino mime, as alien as someone with a lab coat and clipboard could look and still resemble a human. And Pattinson's mood-swinging but “musical” reticence too often sounds like a 12-year-old attempting to deepen his voice, with grunts instead of sultry “hello”s resulting. Pattinson tries really, really hard to be really, really ridiculously good-looking, but with crazy hair, pancake'd skin, and almost-tough-guy attitude, he just looks ridiculous.
It doesn't help that, with the exception of some rogue bloodsuckers and a game of — I swear — vampire baseball, Twilight's main action is yearning. Meyer liked her characters to convey their thoughts with expressions almost more often than words; therefore, Pattinson and Stewart do a whole lot of staring. And because Edward's supposed to be a good guy, he shows off his speed instead of his violent side.
The leads have a couple of juicy moments together, and a mini damsel-in-distress arc is thrown in to keep the story from being completely, well, bloodless. When Edward warns Bella that he's a killer, she responds, “I don't believe you!” Neither do we.
•• Entertainment Weekly, Owen Gleiberman: Rating B
If the droolingly awaited big-screen version of Twilight is any indication, sanpaku eyes are the new cheekbones. Marilyn Monroe and JFK both had sexy sanpakus (in which the white of the orb is strikingly visible below the iris), and so does Robert Pattinson, the young British heartthrob who plays Edward Cullen, Twilight's dreamy, sculpted hunk of a teenage vampire. With pasty skin, red lips, and those peepers that pop open wide with a touch of madness, Pattinson has a look so broodingly unearthly it's no wonder he doesn't sprout fangs. His creepy bedroom stare is a special effect all its own.
Here, as in Stephenie Meyer's 2005 novel, Edward is Romeo, Heathcliff, James Dean, and Brad Pitt all rolled into one: a scruffy-gorgeous bloodsucker pinup who is really an angelic protector. When Bella (Kristen Stewart), who has come to Forks, Wash., to live with her police-chief dad, sits next to Edward in biology class, he acts like he's suffering a seizure (or an attack of bad Mexican food). But it's only because he can barely control himself around her. It's no surprise that Bella tunes out the other kids, even as they try to befriend her. They don't make her tingle with the fear of her own desire. Edward, like any good vampire, has a predatory glamour. As Bella gets to know him, what's irresistible to her is that he promises not a blood consummation but its very opposite: a refusal to give in to the hunger that tempts him most.
For girls, the intense, ego-stroking appeal of Meyer's novel was the way that Bella becomes this undead Byronic stud's soul mate without quite knowing why she's worthy. She's a Kewl Generation damsel waiting to be rescued from her jaded heart. Stewart is an ideal casting choice — she conveys Bella's detachment, as well as her need to bust through it. And getting Catherine Hardwicke to direct Twilight was a shrewd move, because the youthquake specialist of Thirteen treats teen confusion without a trace of condescension: She gets their grand passions and prickly defense mechanisms. She has reconjured Meyer's novel as a cloudburst mood piece filled with stormy skies, rippling hormones, and understated visual effects. What Hardwicke can't quite triumph over is the book's lackluster plot. On screen, Twilight is repetitive and a tad sodden, too prosaic to really soar. But Hardwicke stirs this teen pulp to a pleasing simmer.
•• ACED Magazine: The second thing I feel particularly good about is Pattinson's chemistry with his co-star, the strikingly beautiful and equally as intense Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan). Though they initially struggle in the first half of the film to grasp and hold onto the essence of their characters, their personal chemistry is palpable and shines through the screen easily.
Luckily, about half-way through the film, both he and Stewart seem to find their footing and gel with one another completely as Bella and Edward, as opposed to just Robert and Kristen. They fit together, and that makes their struggle pay off all the more. Pattinson and Stewart are two clearly fine young actors striving with all their might to bring out the best in the material. The scenes that highlight their budding romance are among the better parts of the film. Including a bedroom scene where Edward and Bella go a little too far in trying their hand at intimacy. The romance is sweet, awkward and thick with tension, the way it should be. These moments make the film worth watching, despite a few flaws in the re-telling.
It's wonderful to watch Pattinson and Stewart blossom into their beautifully strange relationship right before your eyes.
•• The Hollywood News: Kristen Stewart is terrific here. She doesn't over do it. Furthermore, it's easy to see how her Bella makes friends even though she hardly puts forth the effort. Robert Pattinson does an admirable job filling in Edward's shoes. There are times when his dialogue delivery leaves a bit to be desired, but it's doubtful that fans will even notice. They'll be too busy staring at him to care. What's the appeal? I'd say it's that brooding, tortured artist thing he's got going (think James Dean or, more recently, James Franco).
As a team, Stewart and Pattinson prove to have dynamite chemistry even though their relationship is a tad rushed in this film adaptation. They spend a big portion of Twilight staring deeply into each other's eyes, and even though it's all a bit repetitive and excessive, these actors will most likely convince you that they'd do anything for one another.
•• FilmInk, Brian Duff: As smart and heartfelt as can be expected from a teen vampire romp, Twilight - based on the first book from Stephanie Meyer's best selling series - is a work of surprising precision and restraint from talented filmmaker Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen, Lords Of Dogtown). The film stars up and comer Kristen Stewart (Into The Wild) as protagonist and narrator Bella, a teenager who moves to the Pacific Northwest and falls in love with a century-old vampire named Edward (Robert Pattinson, Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix).
With a plot defined more by young (chaste) love and high school politics than high octane bloodsucking, Twilight is something of a departure from sexy vampire mini-epics like Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula or Neil Jordan's Interview With A Vampire. Commentators have thus labelled it a Buffy The Vampire Slayer companion piece, and there is room for that argument, but Twilight is more self-serious and less ironic in its execution than the Joss Whedon-penned film/TV series and the subsequent and iconic long-running television programme.
There is room for that sort of shift, of course, should the rest of Meyer's four-part series be developed into films (the second book, New Moon, is currently at "script stage"), but it's happily difficult to imagine the coming films losing Twilight's charming naiveté. Stewart and Pattinson gamely offer up more than a touch of bittersweet teen angst that is rarely brought to fruition on screen; they act, essentially, like sixteen-year-olds behave: sulky, fragile and self-involved. Auxiliary roles are ably filled by Billy Burke (as Bella's taciturn, protective father), Taylor Lautner (as a friend to Bella and a rival to Edward) and Peter Facinelli (as the creepy, kindly patriarch of Edward's vampire clan).
•• Urban Cinefile, Louise Keller: It's easy to understand how Twilight has become a phenomenon. Superb treatment of Stephenie Meyer's best seller and two compelling lead performances make this Romeo and Juliet vampire saga into an utterly bewitching film. Here is a love story with serious complications to overcome. He is a vampire, albeit a vegetarian one; she is his own personal brand of heroin and is hopelessly in love with him. We feel her yearning and while the story might target teenagers swept up in the torrents of hopeless love, this adaptation reaches far beyond the demographic and tugs at the imagination and heartstrings of all ages.
Like Kristen Stewart's 17 year old Bella, as she settles into her new school in the small community of Forks, we become fascinated by the striking good looks and charisma of Robert Pattinson's Edward Cullen. They are seated together in biology class (natch) and Bella cannot avoid his brooding eyes and piercing stare. We are in her psyche from the very beginning as her fascination grows. As luck would have it, she is as pale as he is; they look good together. There's an incident in the parking lot when he saves her life and soon she discovers his eyes change colour, he hears what people are thinking, avoids the sunlight and doesn't eat (regular fare that is) or sleep at night. Director Catherine Hardwicke handles the revelations with restraint and we make all our discoveries through Bella's infatuated and impressionable eyes. Edward's demonstration of his skills as he leaps, flies and shimmies up massive pine trees with Bella on his back are as thrilling as Lois Lane's first joyride with Superman. Then there is the anticipation of their first kiss and the ramifications.
Humour is nicely woven into the arc of the love story. There are some great lines 'Let's not play with our food'; 'I'm on a special diet'; 'Your mood swings give me whiplash'; 'How long have you been 17? A while'. When Bella and Edward leave on their first date, her father (Billy Burke) not so subtly asks 'Still got that pepper spray?' I loved the scene when Bella is invited to Edward's place to meet his (pale) folks who are using the kitchen for the first time - in her honour. 'Here comes the human...'
All the performances are beautifully judged but it is Stewart and Pattinson whose soulful energies haunt throughout. Pattinson is guaranteed to skyrocket into a heartthrob of vast proportions and we are now left to wait breathlessly for the first sequel.
•• Sky: Rating 4/5
There's nothing new about forbidden love, or vampire stories for that matter, but this retelling of an old favourite signals the start of something huge - America's answer to Harry Potter.
The indie ethos works, as does Stewart who holds her own portraying a girl who is likeably plain, yet pretty, intelligent and interesting enough to believably pique the interest of Edward, as played by Robert Pattinson, best known as doomed Hufflepuff champion Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire.
Pattinson certainly has the looks and charisma needed for his dashing Rochester-cum-Darcy hero but Edward is played with too much angst and not enough cockiness to completely win over an audience.
Prepare to be dazzled.
•• The Movie Report: Rating 2/4
I will preface this by saying I haven't read any in Stephenie Meyer's apparently wildly successful series of young adult novels, and after seeing the apparently wildly anticipated film, I can definitely understand the appeal for the target teen girl demographic: an unassuming Everygirl finds the love of her life in a dangerous man of mystery who not only will shelter her from any harm but finds her to be his "own personal brand of heroin." (Yes, that is a direct quote.) And I cannot deny the film's strongest virtue in Kristen Stewart, pulling off a considerable task in making the lead character of Bella fairly compelling when, as presented here, she's kind of a passive damsel in distress type. Pancaked-up pretty boy Robert Pattinson can't really act as mopey vamp Edward, but admittedly his chemistry with Stewart is very strong, and the film's best moments are actually when Bella and Edward simply spend quiet moments alone together. Those scenes brim with genuine erotic tension and romantic hunger, and during those moments the material's fanatical following is self-explanatory. But that would've worked outside of a vampire context, and director Catherine Hardwicke runs into trouble when it comes to actual business of the undead, namely the primary conflict with a trio of bad vamps, which comes across as tacked on to provide action beats that show just how ill-suited Hardwicke is to such movie mayhem. Based on the unfettered enthusiasm of the fans in the screening audience, I'm guessing that the target audience will be pleased, but I suspect there is an uphill battle ahead to win over the uninitiated and a nigh-impossible task of attracting any substantial portion of the primarily young male moviegoing public.
•• ViewLondon, Matthew Turner: Rating 3/5
Destined to be a massive hit with its target audience of teenage girls, Twilight nails its central romance and remains an enjoyably watchable thriller, despite the odd bit of dodgy dialogue and some amusingly rubbish special effects.
The Good - Stewart and Pattinson have genuine chemistry as Bella and Edward (at least if the lust-crazed screams at the press screening are anything to go by) and director Catherine Hardwicke handles their romance well – the first kiss scene is particularly good. The supporting cast are equally impressive, particularly Burke and all the actors playing the Cullens, though Justin Chon and Michael Welch (as Bella's non-vampire male friends) are extremely irritating.
The Bad - Aside from its dodgy relationship politics, the film's main problem is that the thriller element basically boils down to a single fight scene, the dialogue is extremely cheesy and some of the special effects (notably the vampire piggy-back moment) are unintentionally laughable.
Worth seeing? - Twilight works better as a romance than as a thriller, but it's nonetheless enjoyable and its target audience won't be disappointed. Worth seeing.
•• The Independent, Anthony Quinn: Rating 3/5
This high-concept romance is notable at least for featuring the unhealthiest-looking teenage couple ever to smooch on a screen.
Based on the first of a best-selling series of books, it tells of how Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) moves to a new school in rain-lashed Washington State and falls in love with a glowering youth named Edward (Robert Pattinson), who's even prettier and paler than she is. At first he tries to keep her at arm's length, until his weird glinty eyes and cold hands tip her the wink: this kid is actually a vampire, but of a friendly, 12A-rated kind who doesn't drink human blood and lives with a family of similarly abstinent vampires. He is tempted to ravish her – he's a teenage boy, after all – and in his struggle to protect her from himself the film becomes a strangely moral study in restraint, where the watchword is romance rather than sex.
Adapted by Melissa Rosenberg, it's veined with wry comedy ("Your mood swings are giving me whiplash") and the grimy Northwestern light lends it an almost seductive atmosphere of dread. It gets a little silly, at times, particularly in the special-effects department, but Stewart and Pattinson are a quite mesmerising pair, and their twitchy, sidelong glances play out a duet of unspoken yearning that might just get under your skin.
•• Empire, Will Lawrence: Rating 4/5
About three things the Twilight producers were absolutely positive. First, Twilight was a vampire tale. Second, there was a part of it that thirsted for teenage blood. And third, adolescent girls were unconditionally and irrevocably in love with it. Indeed, American booksellers have hailed the author of the saga, which runs through four novels, as the new J. K. Rowling — Stephenie Meyer’s first instalment selling more than five million copies in the US alone, and thereby helping to fill the void left by the departed Boy Who Lived. The fact that the film version arrives Stateside in what has become the pre-Christmas ‘Potter slot’ will only boost the comparisons.
In contrast to the wizardry franchise, however, the director here manages to improve on the film’s papery progenitor. While a succession of helmers have struggled to condense Rowling’s ever-expanding tomes into a digestible screen serving, Catherine Hardwicke hits top gear from the outset, rattling through the early exposition and never once allowing the painful teen brooding that floods Meyer’s book to overflow into insipidness. Meyer is a devout Mormon, her tale a metaphor for carnal abstinence, allowing young girls to splash around in a pool of obsessive love without having to swim in the turbulent waters of scary teenage sex.
The author, who had final cut, thought Hardwicke’s first cut a little too steamy, hence the interaction between Bella and Edward becomes even more intimate, Hardwicke employing close-ups and avoiding the exposed flesh captured by the wider lenses. The director, of course, understands the teen audience — consider Thirteen or Lords Of Dogtown — and she conjures one of the most beautiful films of the year. Former Potterer Robert Pattinson (Cedric in Goblet Of Fire and Order Of The Phoenix) is staggeringly handsome, as are the rest of his vampire brethren. The backdrop, meanwhile, the lush forests of the Pacific Northwest, is truly breathtaking, Hardwicke sending her stars hurtling up towering trees and sinking into deep moss.
The lead performance too is strong, Panic Room and Into The Wild star Kristen Stewart consistently excellent. She is the vehicle through which audiences are carried on their journey, and her keen intelligence prompts a mature performance. Bella is both vulnerable and strong, a three-time damsel in distress, requiring Edward’s white-faced knight to save her, and yet courageous enough to surrender to danger and send an immortal bloodsucker into a frenzy of desire. Said bloodsucker Pattinson struggles at times — it’s a demanding first lead role, requiring him to project a perennial restrained desire. He settles down eventually, but not before he’s treated us to a series of hard-faced pouts.
Despite the presence of vampires, Twilight is a romance, not a horror, and anyone hoping to sink their teeth into a juicy gore-fest will be disappointed. There is action, of course, ignited by the arrival of a trio of wandering neck-biters (who, needless to say, are impossibly good-looking) that feed on the locals and lust after Bella’s blood, leading to a showdown in a be-mirrored ballet studio. Hardwicke sensibly introduces these rogues early. And yet, while she does have action credentials (working on Three Kings before shooting Dogtown), the sequences are occasionally predictable, the wire-work sometimes obvious.
She also struggles with the depiction of vampires in direct sunlight. Meyer’s saga was prompted by a dream, in which she saw Bella and Edward lying in the forest, sunlight twinkling on the vampire’s exposed flesh. In truth, Hardwicke would have liked to exorcise the scene, but it’s too important to the author. She turned to ILM, although despite their best efforts, Edward’s spangled skin looks a little odd.
Verdict - A sometimes girlie swirl of obsession that will delight fans, this faithful adaptation is after teenage blood, and will most likely hit a box office artery.
+ Kristen 'reviewing' the movie for Girlfriend Magazine