Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Never before have I been to a movie that elicits not one, but two squeals from the audience- both for vampire hottie Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), and his "father" (Peter Facinelli). This experience aptly explains how this movie topped the box office and had the second best opening of the year (behind The Dark Knight, of course). The first installment of Stephanie Meyer's wildly popular book series may have been a smash, but it was anything but a good movie.

Kristen Stewart stars as Bella Swan. If there's a more obvious allusion to the ugly duckling, or the belle of the ball or whatever combination they're trying to convey, I haven't seen it. Bella is supposed to be that "every girl," cute, but plain by movie standards, who becomes the object of the vampiric heartthrob's affection. In this regard I can understand the troves of high-school girls lined up outside the theater on opening night. It's a shame that they weren't met with a quality film to backup their crush.

The vampires in this movie are not your traditional sort. They've given up feeding on people- a sort of tofu variety of vampire. They're still super fast, super strong, and can fly-ish. But instead of burning up during the day (they have to go to school after all), they sort of sparkle in direct sunlight. Yeah, they sparkle, like they were attacked by face glitter wielding PETA members. That actually got incredulous laughs from the audience they had won over weeks before the movie even came out.

The film opens with Bella moving in with her father in a cold rainy Oregon town, a far cry from her mother in Pheonix. Bella immediately proves to be popular, attractive to nearly every group in school, including catching the eye of Cullen. It's not long before the two of them start an awkward relationship, made difficult by the fact that he wants nothing more than to drain the life out of her. As he put it, she's his "own personal kind of heroin." I'm not sure whether that was meant to be flattering or just plain creepy. Either way, it's a prime example of the poor dialog that riddled this movie.

I take beef with the message in this movie. In an interview, Kirsten Stewart said something along the lines of Bella not being your standard damsel in distress. "She's a real woman." I got the complete opposite impression. This role is why people may look at high-school girls as, well, stupid. Edward is Bella's first crush, and yeah, that's a big deal. But risking her own life and essentially the lives of her parents? Even going so far as to wanting to be turned into a vampire so she could be with him forever. Call me crazy but that relationship seems a little too serious.

The visual effects were pretty bland, except for one really interesting scene. The Cullen family brings Bella to play baseball with them in the middle of a thunderstorm. It's one of the most exciting baseball games I've seen in a long time. And it culminates in a confrontation between the Cullens and a roving group of vampires who have not adopted their tofu lifestyle.

Twilight doesn't provide much on the action front until towards the end. And it doesn't offer much in the way of a legitimate love story, or teen drama. It just cobbles together all of those into a mediocre film with little more than attractive leading actors.


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