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Twilight Movie Review

Twilight: A Star-Crossed Lovers Tale That Lacks Bite

Love for the sake of love is a story as old as the hills, but I couldn't help wondering if it might be a bit misplaced in our modern times as I watched the screen adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's popular young adult novel Twilight. In this story's world, if you're the first girl the gorgeous, brooding guy across the cafeteria is suddenly interested in, you've accomplished something worth celebrating. You should not ask why, and you should return his desire for you with a devotion so intense you're even willing to risk death. It's all very dramatic and smacks of an old-fashioned tale of romance and danger. But rather than seeming antiquated, this kind of earnest, obsessive love story manages to be more or less universal enough for today's savvy audiences.

Director Catherine Hardwicke (who knows from movies about teens, having directed Thirteen) smartly casts her leads with talented young actors (Kristen Stewart as the mortal teenager Bella Swan and Rob Pattinson effortlessly playing the self-loathing vampire, Edward Cullen) and centers her film on the slow, boiling passion that builds between them. However, Hardwicke is woefully negligent when it comes to special effects and seems hindered here by a tiny budget. In Meyer's books, the intensity of Edward and Bella's love for each other is matched by the amount of danger that one or both are in due to the vampire stuff. In this movie, the love soars while the supernatural intrigue never gets off the ground, and action sequences land with a hard, laughable thud, making for a somewhat schizophrenic viewing experience. To see what I mean,


After her mother remarries Bella leaves sunny Arizona for a soggy, tiny, town in the Northwest. Bella's a sullen, shy girl, but that doesn't put off the local teens at her new high school who bounce around her like excitable puppies. The boys want to date her, the girls befriend her — it's an easy transition overall. On her first day, Bella notices the Cullen brood enter the building in slow motion while her new friend Jessica explains that they are a mysterious family who only ever hang out with each other. Bella can't help but be transfixed by the show stopper of the bunch: Edward (Judging by the frantic, high-pitched screaming of the youngsters in my screening you may want to bring your earplugs for this scene with Pattinson's entrance). Ultimately, Bella catches on to Edward's secrets, which only make her want to get closer to him. He relents, admitting that the scent of her blood is "like heroin" to him. After revealing the whole truth about his family, he tries to make clear to her that they're loathsome creatures doing the best they can to be good (not kill people), and hunt animals instead.

I'm thankful they dispensed with the book's incessant worship of Edward's physical appearance (no need for that anyway, as Rob radiates a heartthrob-y charisma). I just wish there was a bit more explanation as to why Bella is willing to cross over into the dangerous and uncharted territory of canoodling with the undead. Despite all that, I like the movie's Bella better than the book's Bella. Stewart infuses the young woman with an inner strength and gravitas that makes her more of a likable tomboy rather than a helpless teen with low self-esteem. Even quite seriously hindered by funny pasty make-up, Pattinson makes his Edward far less bossy and overbearing than the book's, and has more of a "misunderstood bad boy" vibe going.

For the uninitiated, there's a lot that goes unexplained. For example, one of Edward's "brothers," Jasper, looks like he's perpetually enduring an enema which caused laughter from the audience each time he was on screen because we all knew he has a harder time than most resisting eating people. If you haven't read the book, you'll just laugh at this ridiculously stiff, stunned-looking actor. But there are moments in the movie, like when Bella and Edward are lying in a field together, where the visuals are so lovely and the look of it so lush, it's impossible not to get a little swept away in the transcendence of young love, whether you've read the book or not.

But for every little moment in the movie that gives it some universal charm, there's something hilariously, well, bad that happens. Like a cheesy flashback. Or crazy bad special effects. Or laugh-out-loud pasty makeup. Still, it's clear the filmmakers did what they could with the source material being what it is and the budget they had. The truth of the matter is it's a fun — sometimes funny, sometimes stirring — ride and at the end of the day, I was entertained. It may baffle some but fans most likely won't be disappointed.

Photos courtesy of Summit Entertainment

Join The Conversation
nicklover nicklover 8 years
twilight is totally awesome! especially with robert pattinson and kristen stewart!! they are awesome actors and i love them!
Red77 Red77 8 years
Read the entire series this week. Saw the movie. Your article is off base. Their relationship didn't start with the classic teenage flick formula: Girl sees mysterious boy. Boy pays attention to her first and she swoons. There was conflict in the story line. I do think you can't appreciate the movie without reading the books. It's a movie. Movies NEVER live up to expectations. You have time to experience the essence of emotions and your reactions when you read a book. Movies never get the entire description and/or character development.
kaghtzrig kaghtzrig 8 years
"laugh-out-loud pasty makeup" that's true i can't stop laugh when i first saw the cullen family with their pasty make up~! truth be told, i want the love that the movie bringing. and it's the amazing and stirring point of twilight
JLP JLP 8 years
The movie was pretty cool, but the main characters both lacked that strong connection they have in the book.
ymblivin15 ymblivin15 8 years
I am definitely a fan of the twilight book series. grammatical error and whatever supposed flaws the books possess aside, it is a beautiful love story through and through. and i suppose my biggest dissapointment in the movie was that the overwhelming and unprecidented love between Edward and Bella was not so intensely expressed...sure there were things such as special effects, certain great scenes that were cut-out and character exposure of Jasper and Alice (there was virtually NONE) that caused the film to be a little dissapointing...but really the main thing that fell flat in the movie was the portrayal of their love..which i actually felt was not Rob Pattinsons fault....actually i think that HE amped up his role to a breathtaking extreme and i cant think of any living man more made for the role of Edward...its almost scary! :0 i think for the most part the actors casted worked well with their roles...though certain ones may have been slightly different than what we fans imagined in our minds...they worked; alice (though a bit tall defintely spoke and acted and otherwise looked like alice should) jasper, emmett, carlisle, charlie, jacob, billy, mike and etc were all like a manifestation of the descriptions in the books. However, Bella was the one character who didnt bring the "ooomph" needed to the movie... beforehand based on pictures i thought that for the most part Kristen Stewart LOOKED like Bella (though she Swasn't actually PETITE..the way Meyer emphasizes in the book)..but as soon as she opened her mouth or even in her movements the whole Bella-esque presence was gone...Bella is supposed to be insecure but not so insecure that she is nervously shivering constantly like a caged chihuahua..the beauty about Bella is that she is insecure yet secure about herself because she accepts herself as being plain and unnoticed (though to outsiders she is opposite of her self image) and that acceptance is supposed to provide her with a sort of dry almost sarcastic, yet quiet and relaxed personality... Kristen Stewart's Bella also did not seem surprisingly cuddly and at ease once she and Edward became more of a just always seemed painful and awkward...the sweet thing about Bella and Edward's relationship is that Edward feels all wrong and wary of being around this girl that both his appetite and heart desires while she is completely untroubled by his being a vampire and any other complications accompanying. the movie Bella did not seem immensely happier once she and Edward became an item which once again weakened the portrayal of the near-suffocating amount of love between the two. As a fan i feel like the movie has good intentions and fulfilled some of them...i think Catherine Harwicke has the right sort of style to produce a film such as Twilight..all i would hope for the next movies as an improvement would be them casting a different Bella...maybe someone more obscure and fitting than kristen stewart... though that happening is doubtful =/ pointless lengthy comment i know, but just seemed like the appropriatea place to voice my frustrations...since i think my family and friends are getting tired of me doing so with them :D hehe peace :-)
ilovetwilight ilovetwilight 8 years
this movie has to be one of the best ever, because, even with their low budget and all the high expectations of the book lovers, they managed to make it so entertaining and stirring through and through. sure there where some cheesy parts [but what movie doesent?] and there where some parts that didnt show up in the movie but still it was great! :]
dirrtyhoney dirrtyhoney 8 years
I didn't read any of this books,but I watched the movie few days ago and I liked it so much. :jumpin:
heartcandy heartcandy 8 years
I just saw the movie... and it was horrible. Alice can not act, its the most irritating thing in the world that one of the coolest characters in the book can't even deliver lines. Secondly Robert Pattison made Edward into less of an abusive, controlling and cocky character, he made him seem so...real, flawed, tortured but capable of succumbing to his wants. I wish Kristen had decided to do the same for her character. Bella was alright ...she just seemed too awkward. I never liked Bella from the books either though.
scotlandrulz scotlandrulz 8 years
BORING! not bothering going to see this! a lot of films with far too much potential are always overrated (like this one and Mamma Mia!)
reesiecup reesiecup 8 years
reesiecup reesiecup 8 years
i saw and like the movie having never read the book. i can totally see why edward cullen has snatched the heart of girls and grown women alike (poor rob)! i may have to invest in the series
italianblonde italianblonde 8 years
I thought this was going to be as annoying to me as Harry Potter was with all of the hype and boring story. But my friends and sisters got into it (and my sisters don't read), so I became intrigued. They took me to a showing tonight and I fell in love!!! I thought it was amazing. It depicted love in a good light and it's always interesting when the lovers can't really be together. I laughed and teared up and definitely fell prey to Edward :) I bought the book after the movie and plan on seeing it again after I read it.
cally8980 cally8980 8 years
Rivrchild, thank you for reading my mind. I went to see the movie with my sister (who is a fan of the books) and wasn't expecting much. The one thing I was expecting was for Kristen Stewart to not be terrible. That fell through. Her acting actually made me laugh several times during the beginning of the movie. I guess she took acting classes that tell you to blink, stutter and shake your head at least twice per line. Other than that, the movie was ok. Robert exceeded expectations. The tree climbing and the my little pony sparkles were pretty terrible.
bella85 bella85 8 years
I totally agree with Buzz! When I read the book, I was totally overwhelmed, it was so intense... The movie felt like the fast forward version of the book. Robert Pattinson looks good as Edward and I really liked him, but I imagined him to be super funny, smug and kind of wry. He always looked so tortured in the movie... I didn't like that, it was too much. It seemed to me that Hardwicke somehow tried to enforce the progress of the story. One example: Bella wants to get on the bus after visiting the greenhouse. Then Edward comes and says something like "Bella, we can't be friends". This comes so unnatural, so artificial, without an introduction... I don't know how to explain it ;) Also, I didn't think that there was any chemistry between Robert and Kristen. They are good actors, but not together. I'm really disappointed by that. In summary the movie was nice as a movie. As the adaption of the book "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer it was acceptable, but for me it wasn't good enough.
dlmslp dlmslp 8 years
if you are a fan of the series and were disappointed like i was in the movie, then try seeing it again. i saw it again today and liked it much better. i have calmed down over my two major gripes being lack of character development and buildup to the love story. i still wish there had been more of each to convert skeptics and nonreaders who think this is just a series for silly teenage girls, but i was much more accepting the second time around. give it another shot.
Phil Phil 8 years
yadiet--You can appreciate romance and legitimately discredit Twilight, and all subsequent Stephenie Meyer books, of fine literary merit. You can have an active imagination and still know that Twilight is of poor standard. I'm not above reading children's lit., in fact it would be of greater pleasure to read The Velveteen Rabbit, The Little Prince or The Wind in the Willows. The Da Vinci Code was a wildly popular book, but is Dan Brown's prose really as good as the sales suggest (nooooooo)? Twilight succeeds in accessibility (at least for the book's target demo), but it can hardly be considered a good read.
tiggles101 tiggles101 8 years
Terrible book terrible movie. I didn't expect anything else lol.
yadiet yadiet 8 years
californiagirlx7 [+] you have some nerve!! do i care if your in high school or not or if you are 90 years old. regardless of your age, gender or whatever the case may be you still have a thinking process, and imagination! I'm a junior in college but I don't go announcing my reading leavel on the Internet. "mindless romance novels" the books are extremely good. and better than Harry Potter. Vampires and Wizard might not exist but true love does. And half of the women and men that have read Twilight and all the following novels have stated that these novels are full of romance. which begins in your high school stage of life. And that comment that you made was extremely rude. And my comments weren't even referring to you!
dlmslp dlmslp 8 years
rivrchild- i have heard the same thing about liking the movie more on the second viewing. i am hoping i will like it more when i see it again. i am just critical because i loved the book and felt the movie could have been so much more to convert the skeptics who think this is only for teenage girls.
rivrchild rivrchild 8 years
To those commenting that it only appeals to the reader base, I know of a few people who saw the movie without having read the books and they thought the movie was alright. One of them was my boyfriend, who agrees with me that the second half is much better than the first. Another friend of mine bought the first book after seeing the movie because it made her want to read it. Having seen Harwicke's film Thirteen and loving it, I was surprised at some things. First, I thought some of the scenes (some) were a bit over-acted. There was something really off about the first biology class scene, I found it laughable and embarrassingly bad. I was distracted by the many odd camera angles and camera moves that seemed to have no purpose. For example, the famous scene from the trailer when Bella tells Edward she know that he is a vampire. Throughout that confrontation the camera kept swirling up into the trees and showing us the scenery which, although beautiful, had absolutely nothing to do with the characters and that moment. So many times I wanted them to stop with that nonsense and just let the scene play out, let us see them react to one another (I think it was Taadie who said something similar, and I agree with it completely). But I thought the second half (or everything AFTER the "confession" confrontation scene in the forest) was actually very good and entertaining. I thought Robert Pattinson was perfect as Edward (though having read the books after he and Stewart were already cast, I always pictured him in the role) Other than the first bio class scene, I thought his acting was great. Stewart was so-so. I know she's a good actress because she was amazing in Into the Wild. But here, she had what i call the "Hermione effect" - relying too much on odd facial movements, her eyebrows constantly arching, she blinks and flutters and heaves her chest entirely too much and it gets very annoying sometimes. Other times I thought she was great. Overall, I think they did an okay job with the admittedly cheesy story (but hey, I'm still a fan, it's a guilty pleasure) and I think the good things outweighed the bad. I will probably see it again, because many of the people I talked to who are fans of the books and didn't like the movie on the first viewing came out loving on the second time around.
animatedpunk animatedpunk 8 years
Starangel- I agree with you about Edward and Bella. Which is why I was more a fan of Jacob in the books - and of Bella when she was WITH jacob. Oh well. And, in this industry, 37 million really is a small budget for a film. There is a lot involved. The first Harry Potter had a budget of 125 million.
starangel82 starangel82 8 years
cath, no you are not the only one who feels that way about Bella. I read the Twilight series and after finishing Breaking Dawn, it only confirmed how I felt about Bella and Edward. Bella is needy and in much need of a self-esteem boost. It kills me that she falls in love with Edward and forgets everything else in her life. And Edward still strikes me as an obessive, stalker type character. (I realize I'm going to get bashed for that statement, but it's how I feel.) I don't see how Bella is a good role model for teenage girls. And I certainly don't agree with everyone clamoring that Edward is the perfect man. The movie is a total skip for me.
raieven raieven 8 years
I think I'll wait for the DVD :)
ktc71 ktc71 8 years
Here's an article where Catherine Hardwicke talks about filming the meadow...
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