*1/2 (out of 5)
November 21, 2008
Kristen Stewart as BELLA SWAN
Robert Pattinson as EDWARD CULLEN
Billy Burke as CHARLIE SWAN
Ashley Greene as ALICE CULLEN
Nikki Reed as ROSALIE HALE
Jackson Rathbone as JASPER HALE
Kellan Lutz as EMMET CULLEN
Peter Facinelli as DR. CARLISLE CULLEN
Cam Gigandet as JAMES
Taylor Lautner as JACOB BLACK
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
A little more than six months ago, the “Twilight” phenomenon smacked me upside the head. A friend of mine who runs a movie web site told me about this book series that knocked “Harry Potter” off the best-seller list and was primed to be the movie event of the holiday season.
Since my wife is a reading teacher and tries to keep up on the latest young adult fare, we got the book and started reading it together. While she devoured the first book and is deep into its sequel, I only made it through about seventy pages of Stephanie Meyer’s freshman novel. Honestly, I got bogged down in it. Too much angst and not enough monsters.
In short, I like a bit more vampire in my vampire stories.
Now, “Twilight” is sinking its teeth into the multiplexes, and the legions of screaming teenage girls (along with the battalion of Twilight-Moms, who are also avid fans) are rejoicing. And they rightfully should because here is a film that is made for its core audience.
The only problem is that I don’t think anyone outside of the teenage girl and Twilight-Mom crowd is going to care about this film at all.
The movie tells the story of Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), a high school girl who moves from Phoenix to the overcast town of Forks, Oregon, to live with her dad. She makes some new friends at school but is drawn to a senior boy named Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), who happens to be a vampire.
They strike up a romance, but Edward is cautious because he doesn’t want a late-night make-out session to turn into a midnight snack for him. As Bella and Edward’s relationship grows, and she learns more about his “family,” they run across some rogue vampires who are interested in Bella as a tasty treat. It’s up to the Cullen family to save her.
While this sounds like a pretty cool plot, the meat of the story is scattered lightly throughout two brooding hours of teenage angst and forbidden romance. As I was watching the movie, it was painfully clear to me why this is adored by teenage girls because it speaks to their emotional intensity and boyfriend fantasies.
But in case you haven’t noticed, I’m not a teenage girl.
The vampires are watered down so much in this movie that I would hesitate to call them monsters. Rather, they’re sexy neo-goth objects that just go through life looking cool with icy stares. The characters are shallow, which is to be expected about a story that follows a teenage girl insisting she’s in love. In fact, she loves Edward so much that she is willing to risk the danger of being devoured.
Now I see why so many violent prisoners always seem to attract the ladies.
The production value of “Twilight” isn’t quite up to snuff with a mainstream feature film. The murky imagery of the Pacific Northwest is beautiful, but the effects and poor wire work make the film look more like a made-for-TV movie of the week on the WB.
There’s way too much teenage angst in this for me to even enjoy it as a run-of-the-mill vampire flick. And the acting is pretty awful at times, which is a shame because Kristen Stewart is a fine actor in her own right. But Robert Pattinson, whom you might recognize as Cedric Diggory from the “Harry Potter” films, channels Hayden Christensen and chews through the scenery with his softened vampire teeth.
But I really should have expected all this with Catherine Hardwicke at the helm. While I’ve never seen her most talk-about picture, “thirteen,” I did see her follow-up “Lords of Dogtown,” which topped my list of Top 10 Worst Films of 2005. Then, I watched her next flick, “The Nativity Story,” two years ago at Christmas. Here’s a woman who made a movie about the birth of Jesus Christ and managed to leech out all the passion, wonder and soul from the story. It’s no wonder her vampire flick has no bite to it.