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Twilight (2008)

Movie title: Twilight (2008)
Grade: C- (2 stars)
Rated: PG-13
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Starring: Kristen Stewart “Bella Swan,” Robert Pattinson “Edward Cullen,” Billy Burke “Charlie Swan,” Ashley Greene “Alice Cullen,” Nikki Reed “Rosalie Hale,” Jackson Rathbone “Jasper Hale,” Kellan Lutz “Emmett Cullen,” Peter Facinelli “Dr. Carlisle Cullen,” Cam Gigandet “James”
Genre: Action/Drama/Romance/Thriller
Summation: A teenage girl risks everything when she falls in love with a vampire.
Spoilers ahead: No

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Ah, finally, someone made a movie directly targeting the Emo crowd. You know, that crowd of rejected school kids who feel the need to make cool their loserdom by wearing black attire and black lipstick with black eyeliner in expression of how they think no one understands them? Yes, every chubby, pale-skinned, pimply-faced, self-esteem lacking, occasional player with Ouji boards will be fluttering with sexual excitement in this teen vampire romance flick.

It isn’t well made, well acted, or well scripted, but it is very well focused on the vampire world and the nuances of how they live amongst humans. The details of the vampires in this story differ a little from what most of us are used to. These vampires can come out in the daytime, but it’s best if the weather is overcast to keep their identities concealed (for reasons I know not), which is why these vampires prefer life in cloudy, rainy Seattle. They are ten times faster and stronger than we ever imagined they would be, even by heightened vampire standards. They’re also hunters and sexually passionate creatures on a level that we humans can’t quite understand.

The movie, directed by Catherine Hardwicke (the director of Thirteen, 2003), is an adaptation of the book Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. I haven’t read it and have absolutely no desire to, but it seems that there are polarizing opinions on how close the movie is to the novel from which it was taken. I don’t care. I’m grading it on the merits of it as a movie as I would any other film. And, as a movie, it’s not very good. Gotta give it credit for creativity and for character depth though. It’s got those things going for it, and it does hold your interest somewhat, despite its notable faults and its overall simpleminded teen-appeal.

Less critical teens and kids of all ages will find this fascinating. But if you’re not in that age group, get prepared to deal with slow plot development—made so by diahrrea-of-the-mouth dialogue. Everything in this movie is laid out like an open book ad nauseum. The taking-turns-falling fight scenes are among the worst I’ve seen, so it’s a good thing there aren’t many. Everything is geared towards a young, less critical audience, and the further in you go, the more apparent that becomes. If you can, just follow the characters and the storyline.

A young girl moves to Seattle to be with her dad, and there she runs into a vampire family and falls in love with a particularly handsome vampire that was bitten while still a teenager in the early 1900s. It’s a good thing too, since neither the novel nor the movie would have gotten very far had the vampire been a fat, balding dude in his mid thirties selling Big Red slurpies at a convenience store in the south, and not a teenage hunk like Pattinson with Johnny Depp-ish qualities—carefully selected to make the girls gush, of course.

I’m just enough of a geek to appreciate the interaction between the vampire families and to enjoy learning about their hunting practices and lifestyle as the film presents it. I thought the actors got into the characters well and fit the parts they played, even if the craft of the movie was poor.

What Hardwicke did do well was reach out to the target audience. She hit it square on! The development of the story, well, that’s another matter. It is flawed and also corny. You don’t notice it except at certain points; one I’m thinking of is a scene where Cullen puts Swan on his back and runs up a mountain; with the camera sped up and his legs a blur with his upper body still, one part of you says, “Wow, that was corny!” while the other says, “But I’d sure like to be able to do that!”

And so, while possessing some grievous imperfections, the film does manage to touch the hearts and imaginations of young minds and lovers of the undead and the supernatural, and for that it deserves credit. It’s not going to win you over if you’re not already into teen romance and vampire stuff, but I have no doubt that this will go on to be one of the biggest cult classics ever.

(JH)

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