The hotly anticipated adaptation of the hit teen vampire romance series is a fairly successful adaptation to the big screen.
Bella (Kristen Stewart) lives happily in Phoenix but is forced to relocate back to her home town of Forks, Washington, the wettest and most cloud covered city in the country. Moving in the middle of second semester of school, she is quickly thrown into a who’s who of the school by her new friends she makes upon starting up at school. Everything is the norm as a twelve year old’s view of high school, all except an odd family of kids that stick to themselves, the Cullen’s. Bella is first introduced to the only single member, as the rest of the siblings are oddly ‘together’, Edward (Robert Pattinson), who appears repulsed and disgusted by the sight, smell, and presence of her; so much so that he misses a week of school before coming back. Upon his reappearance, Edward, is fairly polite and charming, though remaining fairly awkward from time to time. They begin to form a bit of a friendship with seemingly potential for more, when an incident in the school parking lot causes Bella to begin to inquire about the history of the Cullen’s. She learns from here childhood friend, Jacob, that there is an old tale that the kids on the Indian reservation near town tell one another about how the Cullen’s were found a few hundred years ago hanging out in the forest and that they made a deal with his tribe, the Quileute, to let them go in exchange that they stay off their land. This sparks Bella’s interest/research even further which leads her to believe Edward and his family are vampires.
The film itself is not a big wiz bang technical marvel; it is a fairly subdued and laid back picture. And if you know this going in, it’s ok; I think the hype around this flick spurred people to think it was going to be this huge vampire picture, with tons of action and effects. When it really is a fairly quiet and intimate story between Bella and Edward, and is light on action and set pieces. The suspense is alright, the high school stuff works ok but feels like what a younger person would view what high school is like, and that action is solid enough when it pops up. I enjoyed the twist on the “vegetarian” vampires, but I think the film really needed to lay out the rules of the vampires in this world, since it is obviously setting some against the usual norm. What brings the film above being fairly mediocre though is the chemistry of Bella and Edward and the Cullen family which are extremely interesting individuals that we don’t see enough of. The films biggest mistake actually is to choose shitty pop songs (outside Radiohead at the end, though the song didn’t fit at all) for the music in the film instead of a score which could have really boosted the emotions in this film like a good score can.
The film actually might have been better off being a bit longer, as it feels rushed towards the end and the bonding of the leads is a bit to quick and unbelievable and there is zero suspense or threat build up toward the finale, and they expect us to just be scared or feel threatened just because the characters are; the film doesn’t earn our emotions in the end. That said, the first hour or so of the film works pretty great, even if it is a bit corny and immature. In fact, I think the film could have been pretty damn good if it tried to make the film a bit more grown up and not play so much to the tween fan base. They were going to like it no matter what, but if they would have aimed the film a bit more at adults and taken things a bit more seriously the whole time the material could have really clicked and lifted above being a solid film, to maybe a pretty darn good one.
The reason the film was able to reach beyond its demographic though, has to be the great work by the two leads in the film. While the characters might have been a bit rushed, the actors did a fine job of bringing Bella and Edward to life. Kristen Stewart does a great job of conveying strength in Bella, showing little fear towards Edward, but maintaining an aura of curiosity and intrigue to him that works great for the film. Edward does some odd stuff during the courting process of this film and she nails the perfect balance between intrigue and a bit of what the hell in her. Robert Pattinson creates a nice, layered version of Edward as he perfectly captures the awkwardness and mixed emotions he feels balancing his feelings for Bella and his need for secrecy. Pattinson also brings a lot of good humor to the picture as well, and the comedy actually worked really well for the movie most of the time and I wish they would have injected a bit more solid dark humor jokes into the mix. Everyone else in the film does a good enough job, with the Cullen family members begging for further fleshing out in later films and I would love to see a more prominent role for Peter Facinelli as the head of the Cullen family in later films.
In the end, Twilight is an entertaining and solid little picture. While geared towards the tweens a bit too much, there is still plenty to like if you know what you are getting into. The leads do a fine job, and the Cullen family is very intriguing and makes you wish they had a more prominent role. The movie has me intrigued for a sequel and if they listen to the general public a little bit, and change a couple of direction decisions with tone, the series could start to really take off and improve upon itself. Twilight has laid a solid ground work for a potentially good series, lets hope they give us more back-story to the Cullen’s and grow the film up a bit, and they will have a real winner on their hands.