Leaving sunny Arizona behind, introverted teenager Bella Swan (Stewart) moves to the small and permanently-overcast town of Forks, Washington to live with her estranged father (Burke). Starting at the local high school, she meets enigmatic recluse Edward Cullen (Pattinson) and the two are soon passionately drawn to each other. Matters are complicated, however, when Bella discovers that Edward is actually a vampire from a family of vampires who don’t feed on humans…
Adapted from a phenomenally-popular book series with a ravenous, readymade audience in waiting, the Twilight saga was clearly designed to emulate the runaway success of the Harry Potter franchise. Importantly though, as author Stephanie Meyer is a devout Mormon, Twilight is all about hormonal angst and fighting primal urges (Edward wants Bella but isn’t sure he can control his blood-sucking instincts), so anyone looking for stakes, coffins and vampire hunting need not apply. Seriously, don’t even bother.
Playing out like Dawson’s Creek meets The Lost Boys, Catherine Hardwicke is a good directorial choice given her success with teen-girl flick Thirteen. Undoubtedly, the movie is aimed primarily at young impressionable girls, but even though some will find the whole thing far too tortured and po-faced, Twilight isn’t completely without merit. While the haters just won’t be able to buy into the emo vibe, the mood and tone which Hardwicke creates is appropriately brooding and intoxicating, while the forests of the Pacific Northwest provide the perfect backdrop to some impressive production values (indeed, the early high school stages are shot in a surprisingly gritty fashion).
That said, the wire-work is obvious enough that it pulls you right out of the story whenever Edward is required to whiz up a hill or bounce among the trees, while the action-y final act feels at odds with the rest of the movie. Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart do have some nice quiet chemistry (which was clearly real, seeing as they became an item in real life), but both sometimes look uncomfortable with some of the clunkier dialogue. Some of the other characters are quite interesting though (Billy Burke as Bella’s Police Chief father, Peter Facinelli as Edward’s ‘father’), but unfortunately they all come a distant second to the melodramatic romance. Oh well, there’s always the sequels…
Haters just won’t be able to buy into the emo vibe and anyone looking for vampire hunting need not apply, but Twilight gets the mood and look right while proving occasionally intoxicating.