Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Anna Kendrick, Ashley Greene, Taylor Lautner
Plot: When Bella Swann (Stewart) moves into a quiet, idyllic village, she becomes captivated with the local brooding outcast, Edward Cullen (Pattinson).
Twilight is one of the most divisive movies out there. On one hand, it doesn’t seem too divisive, with quite a strong number in the camp of disliking the hell out of the series. However, I believe that the Twihards are simply too scared to express their love. The movies sell, with the series coming full circle and each satisfying the fans. So let’s start by quelling the main arguments that this movie, for now let’s discuss the original alone, is a dud flick. One: Twilight kills Vampires. They are lovey-dovey sweethearts, bound by romance and commonly possessing the bodies of dreamy, pale-faced teenagers. Two: vampires no long set fire in the sunlight but sparkle, like Disney Princesses. A revolt was caused that Twilight has always been oppressed by, unable to break free from the tyranny of abuse that seems built upon, and forgive the simplistic phrase, judging the book by its cover. Those same critics seem to forget that romanticising vampires has been done for centuries (vampires and the romance genre have gone hand in hand for longer than I can remember). And as for the whole sparkling thing: why are we suddenly condemning original ideas in our literature, especially when the same critics are putting down other films for doing the exact opposite?
The reason Twilight has so many hidden fans is that it works as a romance movie. The love story between Bella and Edward is timeless, two individuals who seem destined to love each other. Edward’s intensity for Bella might seem creepy to outsiders, but allow yourself to get swept into the passion of their love story and you understand the power behind the story. Kristen Stewart gets quite the bad rap for looking so miserable most of the time, but in fairness, she is an accurate depiction of Bella from the books. With a vibrant colour grade added to the footage, dare I say it, she actually looks quite beautiful, long, black hair and deep eyes drawing you into the character. Of course, Robert Pattinson is the star of the show here, an actor deeply talented and whose been fighting the unexpected abuse towards Twilight ever since this movie came out. He is instantly intriguing as the mysterious Edward Cullen and even when we unravel his dark secret, he appeals nonetheless. The actor handles the cheeseball dialogue with ease and makes for a great romantic figure, ripped straight out of the books and onto the big screen. The supporting cast is strong as well. Billy Burke is a great father figure and while the other characters are kept to the background far too often (mind you, they would only take away from the central storyline between the two leads), there not a weak one amongst them. What does stand out though is the backdrop. Hardwicke manages to find the best locations to film her Twilight, made all the more gorgeous with the aforementioned colour grade. Bella and Edward first discuss their feelings in a colourful forest scene, that shines in the memory. Another scene sees the vampire family playing baseball in a field that stretches as far as the eye can see. All of this adds to the teenage fantasy, romanticising the vampires so Stephanie Meyer’s vision works just as well as it did in the books.
It’s not a great movie. No, in fact, as a film, it is fairly routine in terms of pacing. Remove the vampire angle from the equation and we get the same ‘out-of-town’ girl hooks up with a bad boy from the wrong crowd. My argument is merely that there is merit to be found behind the abuse. While I appreciate that the movie replicates the book without breaking a sweat (few scenes are glossed over with a Harry Potter style desperation), it also has a few of the problems I have with the book. The novel introduces some bad guy vamps late in the day to spruce up proceedings and perhaps try to entice some male viewers to the forefront. Perhaps it is an unwritten code that every vampire story needs at least one punch-up. However, both the author and the director represent the action lifelessly. James could have bit a lot stronger, essentially the Terminator of vampires, a killer that picks up the scent of Bella and becomes impossibly obsessed with tracking her down and killing her. The very idea of that is brilliant, but by this point it is far too late in the day to do anything with the idea. The villain is concluded very sharply, almost as though everyone is aware he is not really what the show is about. However, it would have been nice to do something with that side of the story. I also have a minor issue with the secondary Vamps being left on the sidelines. Jasper is a great character, but is reduced to silent Johnny Depp lookalike role here. It becomes difficult to keep track of too many of the others, personifying them with ‘big, strong one’ and ‘mother’ one. More time should have spent here. However, on the whole, that is just mishandling the decorations on the tree. When it comes to the love story, which is what Twilight is all about, there are no complaints from me.
Final Verdict: Not terrific, but not abysmal either. A solid love story with two strong leads at the helm.