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Review: Twilight

Nov. 21, 2008by: JimmyO

PLOT: When young Bella Swan’s mother decides to travel with her new husband, the young seventeen year old decides to move in with her father who lives in Washington. She finds herself in a new school with new friends and she notices a strange family by the name of Cullen. She starts to notice one of the boys named Edward. Soon, the two fall in love, as she discovers that he is an immortal one that glistens in the sun. Thus a new vampire/teenage girl relationship develops into love.

REVIEW: It is shocking how much buzz TWILIGHT has been getting. Based on a series of novels by author Stephenie Meyer, it tells the story of a teenage girl in love with a vampire. Now the truth is, the buzz created is purely by and for teenage girls. But I walked into the film wanting to give it a chance. And I mean a real chance. I had my preconceived notions about it, but I really try to be open when reviewing a film. And I actually started to wonder if I might like it, as teenage Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) moves in with her father, leaving Arizona to become a stranger in a strange town. Her dad Charlie (Billy Burke) hardly looks old enough to be her father, which sort of worked for the character as he seems to be unsure how to deal with his own daughter. The voiceover from Bella lets us know her thoughts, beginning with talk of her death. And from this fairly promising beginning, we soon find ourselves with too many characters that crowd what could have been an interesting love story.

I won’t deny that I am not in the demographics for TWILIGHT. But aside from corny dialogue, a way too pretty cast, I think I could have forgiven that. I think director Catherine Hardwicke added a stylistic touch, much like she did with her fine film THIRTEEN. But the script introduces a whole crew of “friends” the second Bella arrives at high school. Seriously… no high school has this many overly courteous buddies. And once they are introduced, they are clearly there to occasionally pop up and say, ‘Hey Bella!’ and then leave. A couple of the girls get to echo the entire teenage audience by getting all giggly when Edward Cullen arrives to steam up the screen. But that is their sole purpose. They are unlikable and uninteresting.

Now what about Edward? He is played by the young English heartthrob, Robert Pattinson. He has light brown hair and will have his name written on many a school notebook the next few years… or at least as long as he is playing a Cullen vampire. Both Stewart and him have chemistry. Natural chemistry. But the relationship is so forced and predictable that it never feels real or natural. When Bella walks into a classroom and finds that the only empty seat is by Edward, she happens to walk by a fan, which then proceeds to make Bella look like she is in a Stevie Nicks video… in slow motion [Google the video “Stand Back” and you‘ll see what I mean]. Okay… we get it… they are going to end up together. While both of these actors are pretty good, there is so much time spent on their longing eyes, they start to look like they may need a bathroom break. And really, all this film is really about is when will these two crazy kids kiss. That’s it. Sex is off limits, probably due to the Meyer and her religious leanings. If you didn’t know, the author is LDS and it really shows in the film with a few scattered religious references. But they may not be recognizable if you are not familiar with the Mormon church.

The film (and the books I assume) want to reinvent the vampire myth. See, these vampires don’t burn in the sunlight, they glisten and sparkle. When Edward takes his paramour up to the top of a mountain where the sun shines, his shirt is opened to reveal just enough of his chest, and we see little sparkles cover his body. Although a second later, after it cuts to Bella and then back to him as he is walking around a large rock, his shirt is suddenly buttoned up…. well these vamps really are quick. Throughout the film there were a number of continuity errors where two people would be far apart, and for the close up they would be face to face. I think maybe Catherine is used to working on a more intimate scale, which her style is more accustomed to, so it might be the cause of that. But hey, those are minor errors and if they film had been stronger, I might not of noticed so much. And I can almost guarantee that not a one of those teenage girls will have a problem with any of it.

It seems that screenwriter, Melissa Rosenberg really wanted to be true to the novel (Although I could be off on this being I haven‘t read the books). There is so much excess in the film. Bella’s friends are wasted, and Edward Cullen’s family is even kind of useless until the end. They were only slightly more relevant in the film then Bella‘s pals, but at least Edward’s clan had the opportunity to play a round of vampire baseball. Yes, it is as silly as it sounds. But with all the excess, the most inexcusable one is the poorly written villains. There are three vamps that like to feed on humans, while the good vampires are “vegetarians”, the Cullens only feed on animals. The baddies are scarcely used, and when they are thrown into the mix in the last half hour or so, the climax is as short and poorly written as a bad episode of “Charmed”. If you want to focus on a love story, focus on the love story and don’t even involve these guys. The really bad vampire named James (Cam Gigandet) is the least scary vamp I’ve ever seen in my life. He’s actually a bit on the laughable side.

I think the attraction to this film is purely the relationship with Edward and Bella. For the most part, the two actors do a decent job. The relationship is forced, because the rest of the film is bogged down with useless characters and underused bad guys. Basically, a vampire and a teenager fall in love. Will she become a vampire and be with him forever? TWILIGHT is a Harlequin Romance for thirteen year old girls. They will look past the poor pacing, the not quite so special, special effects and the overly long running time. It looks good enough and has pleasant enough leads to warrant the many squeals the audience I saw it with gave. But I will say that the locations were quite beautiful so it only adds to the attractive cast. Hardwicke really showcases the beautiful scenery quite nicely, in fact, I could of used more of that than the lame friends and villains. For those of you who are intrigued by the story and older than thirteen, I recommend you check out LET THE RIGHT ONE IN which is drenched in subtlety and nuance. There is none to be found in TWILIGHT. My rating 3/10 -- JimmyO

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