As a string of mysterious killings grips Seattle, Bella, whose high school graduation is fast approaching, is forced to choose between her love for vampire Edward and her friendship with werewolf Jacob.
Beca, a freshman at Barden University, is cajoled into joining The Bellas, her school's all-girls singing group. Injecting some much needed energy into their repertoire, The Bellas take on their male rivals in a campus competition.
Bella Swan has always been a little bit different. Never one to run with the crowd, Bella never cared about fitting in with the trendy girls at her Phoenix, Arizona high school. When her mother remarries and Bella chooses to live with her father in the rainy little town of Forks, Washington, she doesn't expect much of anything to change. But things do change when she meets the mysterious and dazzlingly beautiful Edward Cullen. For Edward is nothing like any boy she's ever met. He's nothing like anyone she's ever met, period. He's intelligent and witty, and he seems to see straight into her soul. In no time at all, they are swept up in a passionate and decidedly unorthodox romance - unorthodox because Edward really isn't like the other boys. He can run faster than a mountain lion. He can stop a moving car with his bare hands. Oh, and he hasn't aged since 1918. Like all vampires, he's immortal. That's right - vampire. But he doesn't have fangs - that's just in the movies. And he doesn't...Written by
After the enormous flurry of attention Stephanie Meyer's literary series attracted (a unique hybrid of Romeo and Juliet style teenage angst and hormonal lust and supernatural horror), a cinematic adaptation seemed not only inevitable but almost expected, providing sultry visuals to the tale of starstruck lovers and proving the definitive date movie for months to come. However, the curse of mainstream literary adaptations proves inescapable, with excitement surrounding the release leading to the film being somewhat unreasonably over-hyped. And while Twilight is hardly a complete failure of a film by any standards, there remains the inescapable sense of its existence being geared to match up to a set standard rather than simply aiming to succeed as a film, making for the overall result being uniformly disappointing, whether for fans of the source material or those unfamiliar with the novels.
Few Hollywood productions have the concern of appealing to both the demographics flocking to romances and supernatural action films, and as such, the impression is frequently given of Twilight biting off more than it can chew. This indecision between concentrating on the supernatural or romantic facets of the film leads to one of the more glaring flaws of the picture - the sense of neither being devoted enough focus to truly excel. While the climactic battle is gruesomely effective, for the most part, the film's special effects appear rushed, under-budgeted and just plain sloppy, coasting by on horrendously unconvincing slow motion to represent vampire super-speed and making moments which should have been filled with wonder and awe instead evoke unintentional laughs and groans. However, Meyer's revisionist take on vampire lore is intriguing, and the viewer wishes the film had delved into the technical aspects of immortal vampire lifestyles further - a sequence where protagonist Bella slowly begins to suspect the true identity of the mysterious boy she has found herself involved with is impressively eerie and chilling. Such moments are aided incalculably by the tremendous musical score of Carter Burwell, whose bold mix of brassy Gothic themes and eerie, chilling motifs perfectly compliments the intensity of the film.
However, Twilight's main concern lies in its script, which boasts some particularly gruesome patches of dialogue apart from the general lack of characterisation one has sadly grown to expect from the teen romance genre. Similarly, despite director Catherine Hardwicke appearing to be the perfect candidate to helm such a film (with directorial debut Thirteen demonstrating a keen knowledge of the teenage girl mentality), her handling of the source material is unfortunately shaky.The film repeatedly falls prey to the "Harry Potter syndrome", feeling somewhat clunky in its almost robotic adherence to its source material, giving it the sense of jumping awkwardly from plot point to plot point and lacking the necessary cohesion and narrative flow.
But most importantly, for a film revolving around its central romantic attraction and sexual tension, the audience is never really given the chance to FEEL the romance, to be drawn in by the mutual lust and entrapment of the two leads for one another. In an oddly rushed sequence, the budding romance between protagonists Bella and Edward is reduced to a couple of nonchalant sessions of hanging out, mostly demonstrated through montage, after which Bella's (largely unnecessary) narration declares her unequivocal love for Edward. This rather abrupt transition would toe the line of appearing satirical of teenage romance were it not for the fact that the viewer realises the moment is meant to be completely heartfelt. What was likely far more effective in literary form, with the chance to understand Bella's emotions and mental process making the romance far more credible does not translate into film. As such, with this crucial central romance lacking the necessary spark which made the novel such a success, Twilight, for all of its periodic cinematic potential, just feels somewhat unnecessary.
The film's casting is perfectly passable, supplying a sufficient variety of up and coming pristine teenage beauties capable of essaying their character types, yet for a book which was driven by such genuine intensity and passion, one can't help thinking of all the performances as somewhat listless and flat. While Kristen Stewart makes a passable romantic lead as headstrong Bella, she lacks the necessary charismatic spark to truly make the viewer warm to her, making her teenaged-angst interludes harder to empathise with. Robert Pattinson does his best as teenage dreamboat vampire Edward, sharing strong chemistry with Stewart, even if his "sultry, moody glances" delve into the melodramatic to the point of verging on comical at times. The rest of the cast give rather bland but serviceable performances, the standouts being Cam Gigandet who is mercifully given the chance to gleefully chomp on scenery and generate sufficient menace as sadistic villainous vampire James and Ashley Greene who essays the ideal balance of being sweetly charming without being overly chirpy as Edward's kind-hearted sister Alice. However, despite his best efforts, Billy Burke is forced to wade through "stern but absent father" clichés to the point of being almost invisible as Bella's emotionally stunted parental figure, and Taylor Lautner fares little better as mysterious prospective love interest Jacob.
While Twilight is hardly a failure on all fronts, with a sporatic peppering of effective moments, the word which most ably describes the film as a whole is 'passable', lacking the necessary intensity or impact to truly hit home. It is easy to envision the adaptation being far more satisfying if done as a smaller, independent production outside the shadow of Hollywood, one which would not shy away from capturing the true passion and intensity of the central relationship without baulking at the prospect of a simmering yet sexless teenage relationship. As is, Hardwicke's film is content to succumb to cliché and sloppy, complacent storytelling, making it far too 'bloodless' to truly satisfy.
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