The StoryThrough a minimal amount of voice-over we learn Bella's leaving Arizona – and the sun – behind to live with her dad, Police Chief Charlie Swan, in Forks, Washington. Her first day at school she makes friends with Jessica, Angela, Eric and Mike, and spots…cue drum roll please…Edward Cullen. Be still our beating hearts – his already is.
If you've read the books, you know Bella falls quickly for the strangely cold, strangely detached 17 year old who occupies the same table at lunch every day with his brothers and sisters. The Cullens stick together and their fellow high school students tend to leave them alone. They're not ostracized, but they're definitely not the first to get invitations for sleepovers. But Bella sees something everyone else apparently misses or wisely chooses to ignore.
The Cullen family is the exception to the vampire rule, opting to feast on animals rather than people. They've adapted well to this lifestyle and although they're by no means totally immune to the smell of humans, they've progressed to the point where they can live amongst us fairly normally. But when vampires who do love humans – to death – come to town, it's up to Edward and his family to keep Bella safe.
The GoodMeyer'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.
The BadThere 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.
The UglyWhile Facinelli's performance as Dr Carlisle Cullen is spot on, his transformation from a brunette with a normal Caucasian skin tone to a bleached white blonde actually elicited chuckles from the preview audience. The first time he appeared onscreen was one of those moments that yanks you out of the film because it's so strikingly obvious he's in make-up.
Horrible, horrible special effects also serve to pull the audience right out of this imaginary world of Twilight's vegetarian vampires who live alongside humans. Edward's ability to run lightning fast looks about as cheesy as you can get, and the sparkle effect is disappointing. Summit Entertainment should have given Hardwicke a larger effects budget so she could do justice to critical ingredients of the story that didn't have to do with performances. Seriously, why skimp on the effects budget when you've got a potential blockbuster film franchise hanging in the balance?