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'Twilight' Movie Review

About.com Rating 3 Star Rating
User Rating 3.5 Star Rating (5 Reviews)

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'Twilight' Movie Review

Robert Pattinson as Edward and Kristen Stewart as Bella in 'Twilight.'

© Summit Entertainment
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 Story

Through 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 Cullens at their favorite lunch table.

© Summit Entertainment
The film puts Edward and Bella together quicker than the book, which is fine because the most interesting parts of Meyer's story focus on Bella and Edward by themselves. Edward has to deal with balancing his desire to bite Bella with his longing to kiss her, which makes for one angst-ey vampire. And all Bella knows is that she's found the guy she wants to be with; the fact he's a vampire is pretty much a non-issue.

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 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.

Robert Pattinson in 'Twilight.'

© Summit Entertainment
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.

The Ugly

While 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?

Page 2: The Bottom Line and the Final Grade

User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 5 out of 5
GREAT!!!?, Member alexaDixon1999

This is a great movie! People that have not read the book though, shouldn't have a say in whether the movie was good or not because I believe you would understand and comprehend the movie better if you did read the book. I will say, I thought that the book would be another one of those books that are more for the teenage type, but really there is much more to the book than that!! It was WAY better than the actual movie. So haters that haven't read the book, I strongly advise that you do! U might be surprised...who knows?! :)

18 out of 24 people found this helpful.

See all 5 reviews

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