Rated PG-13 for some violence and a scene of sensuality, 115 minutes
Wes's Grade: C
Twilight: Teen love, high school angst and vampires
"Twilight" is the new movie based on the phenomenally popular series of books written by Stephanie Meyer. "Twilight" is the first in the series, and the movie is a mixed blessing. While we don't get a chance to see teenage vampires that much, that is essentially the premise of "Twilight," with heavy themes of forbidden love and desire. Unfortunately, we also get heavy, heavy doses of teenage angst and high school life, which mires the story in banality until the film's final act. "Twilight" should please most of its literary fans and many young girls, but otherwise it's a painfully slow affair, lacking the passion and energy something like this should have.
Bella (Kristen Stewart, well cast) moves to small town upstate Washington from Phoenix to live with her father Charlie (Billy Burke) so her mother and step-father, an aspiring semi-pro baseball player, can travel the road. Somewhat of a sullen, sarcastic outcast at her previous school, she fits in too well at her new school, with several suitors and a good mix of friends. However, she becomes attracted to Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), the son of a local doctor, Dr. Cullen (Peter Facinelli). The only thing is, Edward is the mysterious sexy loner boy, pale-faced with a special diet. The two fall in love and she quickly realizes Edward is of the vampire sort, with a strange family that includes Rosalee (Nikki Reed), who hates Bella of course. Edward has to keep her protected from the very dangerous, flesh-eating vampire James (Cam Gigandet), who enjoys humans for snacks and who wants nothing more than to put Bella on a cracker and have her for lunch.
"Twilight" is a prime example of a popular literary series turned film adaptation with the wrong director. Director Catherine Hardwicke ("Thirteen") is a gifted director, but this seems to be the wrong material for her, and much of it falls prey to the teenage banality, and her direction lacks coherence to a story that needed, not to mention much more spark, especially in the angsty, heavy exposition-filled first act that all but drags the film down. It's certainly unrevealing for a talented director and some of it could've been trimmed down. Even the younger set, who this is clearly geared for, may be bored by it, especially in the first hour.
The leads are well-cast, especially Stewart, who makes for a fine Bella, though Pattinson, as the mysterious Edward, is luminous enough but still lacks charm enough to put enough sizzle on the screen, and the two lack a certain energy. The real breakout star here is Gigandet ("Never Back Down") as bad-guy James, who seems to be the real stud here, in a smallish role (he's hardly seen in the first half at all) that all but eats up the screen. His role seems minimalized for the British Pattinson's sake, who in my opinion is something of a shallow mystery.
For a vampire movie, even teenage ones, "Twilight" lacks, well, vampires. It needs more of them and more passionate energy to work, and the best scenes in the handsomely filmed movie are when it focuses on Edward's abilities as a vampire. The predictable ending leaves it wide open for more of these things, as we get the "will she or won't she" plot device of Bella's fate as a vampire.
The blood-letting here, what we see of it, is of the PG-13 sort (nothing too graphic) and is suitable for teenagers and up. "Twilight" has some good individual scenes, but overall it's a disappointment considering the hype surrounding the movie.