Writing a book or screenplay with vampires in it has got to be one of the easiest gigs around. These mysterious and charming undead basically lend themselves to just about any scenario possible — generally making said scenario that much more intriguing (its got a vampire in it, duh!). Proof in point: Twilight. Catherine Hardwicke’s adaption of Stephenie Meyer’s novel of the same name is the basic forbidden love story that you’ve seen so many times before, it just so happens to have a vampire character.
The tough part to swallow, mind you, is that Twilight is a campy, pre-pubescent forbidden love story involving a vampire character that never quite finds its mark.
It involves 16-year-old Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), a girl looking to make a fresh start with her father in Forks, Washington (she’s originally from Phoenix, Arizona). It doesn’t take her long to make some friends (it’s never hard for cute girls, is it?), but she soon finds herself smitten with her biology lab partner, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). You guessed it, Edward is a really a 108-year old vampire with the looks of a 17-year old Abercrombie & Fitch model. They eventually fall for each other — he entrusting her with his secret; she telling him she’ll give up everything to be with him. While that lovey-dovey stuff may work for them, it doesn’t for James (Cam Gigandet) and his clan of “tracker” vampires. He wants to feast on Bella and he has no problem going through Edward to do it.
While the premise itself isn’t at fault, the way in which it unfolds is suspect. Director Catherine Hardwicke starts off with good character development and build-up but trails off into an indistinguishable mess. Bella is a mature for her age, likable girl, making it easy to identify with her and her uncomfortable situation (how many of us have found ourselves trying to fit in and trying to make friends?). Edward, well let’s just say he doesn’t warrant as much buy-in, which for the part is okay. He’s a good looking vampire — it’s more about his keeping up with the dark, brooding stares than anything else. Even the bit roles like friends Jessica (Anna Kendrick), Mike (Michael Welch), Angela (Christian Serratos) and Bella’s dad Charlie (Billy Burke) are all relatively well fleshed out too.
Edward’s and Bella’s hook-up and ensuing courtship, however, wasn’t exactly on the top of any lists of things I cared to see. At fault for this the most is probably is the cheesiest, “made for Lifetime” type lines written for the lovesick teenagers. Examples of Bella’s cooing to Edward are “I’d rather die than to stay away from you” and “I dream about being with you forever.” No one talks like that anymore, mesmerized by a vampire or not. To offset this, I was hoping for a big payoff in the action department, as fights between characters with superhuman abilities are always a blast to watch. Alas, that wasn’t to be either. Most of the action/fight shots by cinematographer Elliot Davis are herky-jerky and sloppy, not mention everything appeared to be washed-out, leading to some very uninspiring crescendos.
Last time I looked though, I’m not a 15-year old girl, so it is safe to say I’m not a member of the target demographic for Twilight; therefore, it is fairly obvious my expectations of the film are completely different from theirs. And seeing as these youngsters bought 25 million copies of the book series worldwide (other books in the series are New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn), I have no doubt this film will be a rousing success. It doesn’t, however, mean the film is any good. Harry Potter doesn’t have anything to worry about.