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The Twilight Saga: Twilight (2008)

  Tags: Anna Kendrick, Ashley Greene, based on book, Cam Cigandet, Catherine Hardwicke, Christian Serratos, drama, Elizabeth Reaser, high school, Jackson Rathbone, Justin Chon, Kellan Lutz, Kristen Stewart, Michael Welch, Nikki Reed, Peter Facinelli, Robert Pattinson, romance, school, teens, Twilight, twilight saga, vamps

Your rating: None Average: 4.6 (9 votes)
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Rating #: 
Catherine Hardwicke
122 minutes
Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Justin Chon, Anna Kendrick, Nikki Reed, Cam Cigandet, Michael Welch, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Jackson Rathbone, Ashley Greene, Kellan Lutz, Christian Serratos

Let me preface this by saying that in no way do I fall into the demographic of Twilight's target audience. I have never read the books, I am not a 14 year old girl, nor am I a same-sex oriented male who finds Robert Pattinson dreamy. I am, however, an admirer of Director Catherine Hardwicke. I'm a total sucker for her brutally in your face Thirteen and believe she's truly a talent to watch out for. It's because of her skilled direction that I found myself not repulsed...and dare I say it...slightly intrigued and entertained by Twilight.

Choosing to focus more on high school first love than the battle between two vampire clans, Twilight tells the story of Bella, the new girl in school who quickly becomes infatuated with the mysterious Edward. Edward is pretty, pale, and cold as ice to the touch. I think it's pretty damn clear...except to the space cadets who inhabit the high school apparently...that Edward and his family are vampires. Not just any kind of vampires though. Nice vampires who feed off of animals instead of killing humans. Vampires that when they're exposed to sunlight they...WTF? Why is Edward sparkling like he was dipped into a vat of body glitter?! You read right, they SPARKLE in the sunlight! Umm...ok... Anywho, after over an hour of developing the love story between Bella and Edward, we're finally introduced to the villain vampire who sets his sights on killing Bella solely for the hell of it. Now it's up to Edward, with the assistance of his nice vampire family to save Bella before she becomes dinner.

While Hardwicke's beautiful directing is clearly the driving strength of Twilight, strong performances from the capable cast didn't hurt. Kristen Stewart has proved a few times now that she can give strong performances in mediocre movies (The Messengers for example). She's definitely come a long way since playing Jodie Foster's son in Panic Room. I really enjoyed Robert Pattinson's portrayal of Edward. When he first started talking to Bella he was awkward and quiet, very high school 'boy has crush on girl'-like. He was very relatable. For a brief moment, I found the sarcastic, cynical, asshole that is my current self break down to the insecure 17-year-old that I once was...and then I gave myself a swift quick in the ass and snapped out of it. The supporting cast had very little to work with since the movie almost solely followed Bella and Edward. Which is a shame since Edward's vampire siblings were probably the most interesting characters in the movie, especially Rosalie played by Nikki Reed (whom I've had in my spank bank for quite some time now...thank you Twilight for a new deposit). I can only hope that these characters roles will expand in the inevitable sequels.

Twilight's downfall either lies in the script or the source material. We're given an entirely-too-long love story, so when the main conflict arises it's resolved far too quickly in order to maintain the two hour running time. You can't create a moody teen angst drama for two thirds of a movie then quickly switch over to vampire action film for the last third and not expect it to come off forced. The dialog between Bella and Edward became laughable towards the point where she finds out he's a vampire. Again, having never read the novels, I'm not sure who to blame; the scriptwriter or the author. I'm also semi-disheartened by the existence of a PG-13 vampire movie. I know if this movie was rated R it would have lost most of its business, but I couldn't help feel that if it had been darker and showed more brutality from the villain that the film, as a whole, would have been more effective. In the end, this movie wasn't made for me so I can't bring myself to be too hard on it. The groups of young teenagers in my theater seemed to be enthralled by the movie so in that respect, it was a success.

While Twilight fails at creating an effective vampire thriller, it succeeds in crafting a well directed, strongly acted and even relatable high school love story that will more than appease the target audience. For the rest of us who long for a vampire movie of badassery, maybe the new Underworld movie will be good? I know, I know...who am I kidding.

Posted on October 22, 2009 - 9:28pm | Johnny D