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David Harley Reviews ‘Twilight’

Earlier we brought you my review of Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight, beyond the break you can check out David Harley’s thoughts on the film, which is about a high school girl named Bella falls in love with a vampire. The new couple leads a rival vampire clan to pursue them and attempt to force her to decide if she, too, wishes to become one of the undead. The film opens in theaters tonight at midnight and is expected to take in close to $70m this weekend. Don’t forget to write your own review and tell other B-D readers what you thought!
Back in 2005, my then 12-year-old sister brought home a 498-page novel called TWILIGHT. She managed to breeze through it in only a day or two, talking up a storm about how good it was and even hinting that there was a faint possibility I might enjoy it. The premise of a teenage girl falling in love with a vampire, with lots of “drama” assumedly thrown into the mix, didn’t strike me as anything original or something I’d want to waste a few hours on, so I shrugged it off and forgot about it, only to be reminded of it each subsequent year when the next installment was released.

I had no idea how huge Stephenie Meyer’s series was until this past August 1st, when I made a trip to a local bookstore around 7pm. A mob-like crowd of 15-year-olds gathered in the lobby, overtaking the store with their shrill, giddy laughter. “Why are all these people here? Did Rowling pop out another Potter book and I didn’t hear about it?” I asked a worker who was making a feeble attempt to corral the tweens. “New TWILIGHT book comes out at midnight” she replied. Even though I knew the film adaptation had wrapped principal photography back in April and its magazine covers had began to trickle out, it was at that moment, after making it to the periodical rack by wading through a giant crowd, when I realized that TWILIGHT was a pop culture phenomenon and a force to be reckoned with.

Having just seen TWILIGHT, a film which has proven itself to be among the most anticipated of the year, I can honestly say that I have no intention of ever reading the books now, simply because there is absolutely no way they can match the utter ridiculousness that oozes from every frame of Catherine Hardwicke’s romantic-fantasy debut.

Kristen Stewart stars as Isabella “Bella” Swan, a shy 17-year-old who moves from Phoenix, Arizona to Forks, Washington to live with her father, Charlie (Billy Burke). Walking into biology class on her first day of school, Bella spots Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), an angelic-looking outsider. The two share really bizarre passionate gazes while the wind blows through Bella’s hair and close-up shots of pouty lips, flickering tongues and deer eyes pop on screen at a more alarming rate than in whatever the last Playboy “Best Of” video was. Sadly, Berlin’s Take My Breath Away was mysteriously absent in the background.

After several mood swings on Edward’s behalf, Bella eventually picks up on the fact that he’s a vampire and makes him own up to it. Sexually frustrated and apparently desperate, she falls for the vampire and begins the complicated relationship that will potentially last us for four films. Of course, TWILIGHT wouldn’t be much of a film if it stopped there (then again, it isn’t much of a film after it keeps going either); enter James, an evil “vampire” who begins stalking Bella just because he loves the thrill of the hunt.

I feel weird using the word vampire in this review because I felt it was used in the film (and assumedly, the novel) for lack of a better phrase. The “cold ones”, as the Quileute tribe refers to them as, aren’t hurt by the sun, but rather sparkle like the diamond cream from ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT in it. The Cullen clan doesn’t drink the blood of humans, only animals, and their body temperatures are frigid. They don’t ever sleep, nor do they have fangs and their reflections can be seen in mirrors. They do, however, seem to have character-specific powers bestowed upon them, which are presented with the same quality of CGI found in a children’s live-action show. The characters act more like superheroes than vampires, which makes sense in the context of the action-oriented ending and baseball sequence, but not during the goofy tone of the rest of the film.

Catherine Hardwicke gave us THIRTEEN back in 2003, a film that I personally enjoy. What’s impressive about that script is that it was written in only six days by Hardwicke and 14-year-old actress Nikki Reed, who takes on the role of Rosalie in TWILIGHT. Even though the character development is rushed, the film is an honest portrayal of the great lengths a teen will go to fit in and find themselves. You know what’s impressive about the script for TWILIGHT? That a first-time writer/director and a 14-year-old could write more naturally sounding dialogue than an executive co-producer and writer from DEXTER. Characters spout out lines like “You’re my own personal brand of heroin” and “Hang on, my little spider monkey”, leaving me confused as to whether it’s supposed to be taken seriously or written as a cutesy tween joke. With a running time of a little over two hours, the joke is evidently on me. I hear the books aren’t written well either, so maybe this is just a case of trying to stick to the source material to keep fans happy, however terribly conceived it might be to begin with.

The trailer led me to believe TWILIGHT would be just as bad as films like THE COVENANT or BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE but the truth is that, frankly, it just isn’t. It’s definitely not a good or original movie, or even one that I would recommend to genre fans, but I was entertained, even if it wasn’t for the right reasons. If you’re a fan of the novel, odds are you don’t even care what I have to say anyway and you’re going to be thrilled to see your favorite characters come to life on the big screen (Lord knows the audience of swooning girls I saw it with were). Of course, if you’re someone who’s being forced to watch this, rest assured that you’ll find more than a few things to get your fair share of chuckles from.




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