122 minutes approx
Bella Swan -
Edward Cullen -
Written by -
Directed by -
Bella's parents are divorced and her mother has just remarried to a minor league baseball player who will be travelling all over the country, so she travels to the northern town of Forks, a place where there is always a cover of cloud and more often than not it is raining. There, she finds that she is a minor sensation and all the boys are interested. She, however, only has eyes for Edward Cullen, a strange young man from a strange family who doesn't seem to like her at all. Worse, he seems to be unable to be anywhere near her.
Then he impossibly saves her from a car accident and she learns that the whole family are vampires, but vampires that live on animals they hunt in the forest and not human blood. They still thirst for it though and that puts Bella in danger every minute that she is with him. Not as much danger, though, as when some vampires with a less 'vegetarian' frame of mind show up and decide that Bella is fair game.
Stephenie Meyer's vampire chronicles, starting with TWILIGHT have taken the world by storm, or half of it at least because this is a story that women connect with in a way that men don't and the film is likely to go the same way. The story is made up of every young girl's dreams stitched together with every young girl's realities. Bella is clumsy and self-conscious, but when she arrives in Forks she is transformed into some exotic, exciting thing that all the boys want. Why? Simply because she is different from them. Becoming popular without having to do anything to change? That's fantasy.
Then there's Edward. You can't pine after a prince any more (oh that's so Disney), so the tall, dark and brooding unattainable man is transformed into a vampire. This also brings in the thrilling menace of the bad boy and throws in a bit of an undercurrent about celibacy since if he loses control around her he will surely kill her so sex is a definite no-no.
All of which leads in the book to page after page of interior monologue moping about the unfairness of it all, the uncertainty and the teenage angst. This translates onto the screen as yet another montage of Bella and Edward talking to some soft pop ballad in his room, her room, under the trees, in a meadow... This will leave most men as cold as it will attract most women.
It's not the fault of the cast as both Robert Pattinson as Edward and Kristen Stewart as Bella manage to invest some charm and vitality into what are generally miserable and self-absorbed teenagers (OK, he's a few decades old, but that's OK). As the fang-crossed lovers they are perfectly fine. Only Billy Burke as Bella's father Charlie gets to make an impression as supporting characters, helping to create a loving, but awkward relationship between father and daughter.
It's not all adolescent mooning and glooming, however, as Meyer remembered towards the end of the book that she needed a plot and threw in a trio of predatory vampires for a little threat and a climax. Their sudden appearance and morphing into the bad guys is even more abrupt in the film. It's a case 'hi we want to be friends and oh lets's eat your friend. We can't? We shall kill you all' and almost that quick. Then there's a breathless rush across the country, an absurd turn of events when Bella is tricked into leaving and the up-til-now-omnipotent vampires let her, and then we're into the big action finale, which is over before it really gets going because that's not really what the story's all about.
Some of the special effects are poorly realised (Edward shining in the sunlight and running up trees for example), but in the end analysis that isn't going to put off the core audience who will absolutely lap this up. The thing is that Buffy and Angel did this ages ago and did it so much better.Top
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