If you went – or tried- to see Twilight on its opening weekend, you no doubt noticed that the theater was jam-packed with teenagers (especially girls). And if you went in my neck of the woods, you may have noticed the 12-year-old daughter of a friend of mine (named, ironically, Isabel), who is a huge fan of the series of books by Stephenie Meyer, and who had been counting the days until the movie’s release. Having not read the books myself, I asked her: was it a good movie, and was it faithful to the book? She answered both with an enthusiastic yes. And if a ringing endorsement from a 12-year-old girl is all you need to recommend you, then you should probably stop reading right now.
Since I can’t speak to Twilight’s merits as an adaptation, I can only critique it as a vampire story, a love story, and as a piece of entertainment. I’ll start with the “love story” aspect, which was fairly well done. When Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) moves from Phoenix, Arizona to the small town of Forks, Washington to be with her divorced father – the town’s sheriff – she meets a mysterious boy named Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). She finds herself drawn to him, and only after he uses superhuman speed and strength to save her life from a speeding car does she realize what he truly is – a vampire. But that does not stop her from losing her heart to him, nor his to her. The chemistry between the two actors is actually very good, and it carries the film through a lot of its “down” points.
As a vampire movie, it’s as tame as they come. If you expect violence or gore on the level of, say, 30 Days of Night, you will be sorely disappointed. This film was made for youngsters, and you’ll be glad to know that though there are some romantic moments, there is no foul language and only a small amount of violence and blood. There is no gore whatsoever. Which is fine for a “family” film, but it rather dilutes the experience for a veteran of “vampire” films.
So would I recommend it as a piece of entertainment? Just barely. Though the love story was well-realized, it took too long to develop. Twilight’s running time of just over two hours should have been trimmed by at least fifteen minutes, and much of the awkward teenage love-hate-love introductory phase between Bella and Edward had me checking my watch more than once.
There were plenty of high points, though. The scenery, shot on location in the Pacific Northwest, was gorgeous, and the film did a decent job in skewering some of the typical vampire stereotypes that I had. (The “vampire baseball” scene was a wonderful surprise.)
Though a confrontation between Edward’s family and a group of other vampires who don’t share their restraint for killing humans is inevitable, the characters do a good job trying to convey how much they try not to be the “monsters” that history makes them out to be. Just as inevitable? At least one sequel, so be warned.
2 ½ / 5 stars