Sunday, November 23, 2008


Okay, so it is all said and done, including the shouting. I have seen Twilight, and I enjoyed it more than I expected to.

A brief synopsis for the uninitiated: Loner high-school student Bella Swan is sent to live with her father, who she barely knows, in the rainy town of Forks, Washington. She involuntarily collects a few friends, but her true interest, and her true connection, is with Edward Cullen, the son of a mysterious local family. She soon parses out that the family are vampires. She and Edward bond, even though he considers himself a constant danger to her. They soon find themselves in over their heads when a trio of less ethical vampires swings through town.

As in the book, Bella and Edward's love tends toward the obsessive; but the script manages to make him less controlling. Bella's parents and friends are more prominent, in my opinion, than the were in the book, and this represents an improvement. I can't give Robert Pattison credit for any extraordinary acting here, but Kristen Stewart brings an unexpected gravitas to the role of Bella.

The Cullens as a whole are a treat. The casting and cinematography underscore the creepy way that everyone (except Edward) is paired off, as well as the youthful appearance of the parents. Peter Facinelli seems to be channeling Tom Cruise's Lestat as Carlisle Cullen, which was off-putting at first. He grew on me, though, and I went away regretting the omission of his story. If the movie could have used more of anything, it's Alice Cullen.

It is very difficult to break new ground in vampire lore, but Stephenie Meyer's vampires do so in a few ways, and the movie address them. The evil vampires are hardly original, but they are compelling. The baseball game scene is a lot of fun, and made more sense to me here than it did in the book.

At the same time, there are moments which will cause unintentional laughter. The wire-work gets a little silly. In the early science-class scenes, Edward looks more nauseated than love-struck...although arguably, this is true to the book. My best friend and I laughed particularly hard at one scene, where someone gives the new couple a pop-eyed look of disapproval.

There were scenes that were changed or added from the book, and I don't remember it well enough to say whether this movie will please or anger the purists. I can say, though, that this movie is worth your long as you don't take it too seriously. There is a certain amount of cheesiness inherent in vampire stories...after all, sex and death are at once the most serious and the most funny things to humans. Add teenage romance to the mix, and your own personal riff-track is inevitable.

Twilight at least offers some genuine terror and suspense along the way. There is also a theme of self-sacrifice, which both makes Bella seem healthier and helps the movie's tone.

I now want to read the rest of the books, and see the rest of the movies. The characters of Jacob Black and his father are also well-cast, and with what I know about them, I look forward to seeing their story unfold.

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