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Twilight (movie)

A 2008 film based on the Stephenie Meyer book of the same name, directed by Catherine Hardwicke

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More A Teenage Romance Built on A 'Staring Contest" Than a Vampire Movie Itself.

  • Mar 23, 2009


Being a vampire lore enthusiast, I have seen a very good amount of vampire films. Of course, I would check out this vampire movie based on the best selling book by Stephen Meyer called "Twilight". Please understand that I have not read the book (yet) and obviously this type of movie would attract audiences based on the book's popularity and that this film does know its intended audience--teenage girls or hopeless romantics. I will try to be as objective as I can, I do admit that I am not fond of romantic films--all of them are so full of clichés and perfunctory elements that does un-interest me. However, I can comment on how well a film is made and its entertainment value.

Bella (Kristen Stewart) is a young girl teenage girl who had just moved into a small dreary town where there is an almost enormous daily amount of cloud cover and her dad (Billy Burke) is the chief of police, who's also divorced from her mom (who had also re-married). Bella meets the usual batch of school buddies and none of them really sparked her interest; that is until she met Edward Cullen (Robert Pettison), a mysterious young man who keeps to himself and hangs out with his family most of the time. One day, Bella is almost hit by a car and Edward amazingly deflects the accident. Shocked and curious, Bella figures out that Edward is in fact a vampire--inhumanly strong, fast, and immortal; but as with his "family", he gets sustenance only from the blood of animals. Plus, Edward is very much interested in her. The two begin an uneasy friendship that soon blossoms into love. Bella is accepted in Edward's "coven" of vampires and she is shown a world beyond her imagination. Life is good, until other vampires who are passing through complicates things….

Director Catherine Hardwick has two misfires in "The Nativity Story" and "The Lords of Dogtown", now, she tries to redeem herself with an adaptation of the very popular romantic novel. Expect me to say "romance" quite a lot, because "Twilight" only uses the supernatural elements of vampires ONLY as its backdrop or setting--the movie is for the most part about teen romance and throws away its development of subplots with "human-preying" vampires and even some of the established groundwork of vampire legend. Yes, sunlight has an effect on these blood suckers but it doesn't kill them (but just makes it obvious that they're different by looking pretty?) and they can enter your house without invitation. I don't really mind some of the changes and I kept an open mind.

The film's set-up is so full of cliché, and serves up the usual teen oriented tone. Then it abandons that premise and becomes more like a romantic flick. The teenage issues of popularity, high school politics, social issues and infatuations are hinted at but the movie focuses more on Bella's own issues such as "will Edward eat her or not?" and "will Edward really love her?". I know it sounds sappy and for the mature audience, it is. I meant it when I said that the vampire thing is only a backdrop--all the film is about the young lovers and any other stuff about vampirism is just a complication or some hurdle to overcome.

The vampires in "Twilight" are for the most part treated as "super-heroes" (has that "X-men" feel somehow) or some very cool and hip folks. They play baseball (vampires playing this sport during a thunderstorm is a nice touch), have very cool cars and own a very beautiful house. They even try to cook an Italian dish in order to show their acceptance for the mere human in their midst. Edward's coven is a bunch of friendly vampires who had established a pact with the native Americans who live in the reservation nearby. They're peaceful but I rather thought it would have been much cooler to go into the conditions and terms of this treaty and the film missed this opportunity (there are very subtle hints of "Skinwalkers" in the last act). As with any group of people, the vampire covens are different--some are satisfied in feeding off animal blood while others regard humans as their food. I guess I should be impressed but this actually came as no surprise.

The acting is decent for the most part. Kristen Stewart pulls a very strong performance as "Bella", although I have to admit I wasn't exactly interested in her character. Robert Pattison does steal the show as Edward the vampire. This role would definitely elevate Robert Pattison to "teen heartthrob status"--the young man does fit his role and I can just see this movie doing to Pattison what "Titanic" did for Leo in the hearts of female fans. The "tortured soul" gimmick is played out but not as efficiently as I would've wished because it lacked much needed groundwork--he shouldn't be acting like a 17 year old when he's much OLDER (being 17 for a long time). Edward is the hunter of the group, and he has a very acute sense of smell--and Bella well, smells very appetizing in more ways than one. What's interesting is the fact that Edward meets another hunter (played by Cam Gigandet, Never Back Down)--clearly an exposition in vampire rank and that they hunt in packs.

The movie does look good, the movie has that eerie bluish atmosphere and the cinematography is also quite decent. The special effects are also fitting for this type of movie, and Hardwick's direction may be a little uneven, it left too many plot gaps for readers of the book to fill in. It is rather very difficult to say that "Twilight" is even a good vampire movie, but I have to admit the film knows its intended audience and focuses its strength on the stuff teenage girls and hopeless romantics like. It is watchable, but has too many undeveloped factors introduced as devices just to throw in a few hurdles for the young lovers and the teen romance just overshadows any other concept. The best way to look at "Twilight" is as a romantic fantasy-"chick flick" (if you will) and not as a vampire film; purists of vampire films had better stay away. I was expecting more of a similar take as in "Buffy" TV series but it does play its strengths well for its intended audience. Again, this is NOT a vampire film but a teenage romantic film built on the vampire concept.

For a vampire film fan, I would say Rent it! since one viewing would be enough, but for the romance fans, I would say Recommended! Purists of vampire lore is better off skipping it.
It all depends on what you're looking for and I am not fond of teenage romance movies.
[2 Stars]

HYPE LEVEL: Embarrassingly "Hyped Up" and Undeserving of Such Attention

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May 26, 2010
I agree with your review; I was not interested in Bella as I thought she was a rather boring character, and as a horror enthusiast, I was actually surprised that I liked the movie - I am a huge vampire buff but am used to gory vampire movies, but even without the violence I thought it was a rather good movie. Excellent review!! Brenda
May 26, 2010
Thanks, Brenda! I am a horror enthusiast too but admittedly, there are a lot more folks who know more about the genre than I do. I didn't hate this one (but I really disliked the sequel) and I think if the HYPE wasn't so much then maybe, just maybe I would've found it more entertaining. I guess I just wasn't its intended audience. Have you seen DAYBREAKERS?
February 19, 2010
I agree, the cinematography was pretty good. I also really liked the setting; I'm a sucker for overcast skies. Anyway, I never read the book, except for a few bits here and there from my sister's copy, and it seems like much of the beginning of the book is just Bella describing Edward's (facial) features. Kristen Stewart also makes some hilarious faces in this film, I must say. The scene where she was bitten by James and is having the venom sucked out of her by Edward was priceless. Wonderfully balanced review.
February 20, 2010
Thanks! Despite the fact that I feared the worst from this movie, it wasn't as horrible as I thought that it would be. It is a bad movie and I have to admit it does channel what it wants well and definitely may prove attractive to its target audience.
February 23, 2010
That's true. I'm sure that people who went in hoping for a romantic film loved this. I myself would have loved to see the concept of vampyrism expanded upon a little, but it seems that Twilight only uses Edward's vampyrism to complicate their relationship and create drama, making it that much more "romantic" that they stay together anyway. Oh well.
September 01, 2009
I can't believe that of all your reviews I never checked out your take on Twilight until now.  I agree with just about everything you said although I was a bit harsher.

I recall seeing this movie and leaving the theater thinking, "I swear I've seen Kirsten Stewart before in my wood shop class in middle school... oh wait, that a piece of wood."  Only because I thought most of the acting was actually kind of wooden.  In most scenes I couldn't tell if she was happy, sad or anything like that.  When she's supposed to be worried she doesn't seem worried.  

One thing you did touch on that I never really thought about was how all the vampirism was nothing more than a backdrop.  Thinking about it now... you're quite right.  But I'm always finding myself a bit disturbed by some things. 

You should check out the abridged script on The Editing Room, it's hilarious and picks apart the movie perfectly.
March 26, 2009
I've got better things to do with my few remaining years than to soend any time watching this flick. I wasn't even going to bother reading your review but then I thought if Woop can waste his precious moments writing it how can I deny him a reading?
March 26, 2009
Thanks, Karen. My lady friends watched this movie in theaters and decided to see it again at my place. So I wasted my time watching it, so I figured, why not blast it to orbit? LOL
March 26, 2009
Even BUFFY became far too much of a romance and tale of teenage angst for me. Still I hung on because there was enough brilliance to justify coming back each week.
March 26, 2009
Oh, really? I love the later Buffy episodes. Seasons 4 and6 were a little weak, but season 7 came back with a vengeance. For me though, seasons 2 and 3 were the best. Not only were they the most character-driven, but also the most funny episodes. I love the bad special effects in the season 3 finale when the mayor turns into a 100 foot long serpent.
March 26, 2009
I loved the first 3 seasons, even season 4, but after things started getting a bit too heavy and Buffy herself developed what we used to call "round heels" meaning she went down for everybody. 5, 6, and even 7 weren't up to par even though individually they contained some of my favorite episodes. I loved the Evil Trio as villains. "Conversations With Dead People" from season 7 was one of my favorite episodes. In consistence became a problem. Too much angst.
March 26, 2009
True about "Buffy" but I have to say season 6 may be a little slow to pick up but it gained steam towards the end. I did enjoy "Angel" very much, too bad it didn't really make good in the ratings war.
March 26, 2009
I was really surprised and pissed off when ANGEL was cancelled. I honestly thought it was going to last at least another year. But then it was put on opposite American Idol in the tv schedule so the ratings couldn't have looked that good.
March 27, 2009
The death of Buffy's mother was one of the best things every done on television. Just when you were completely over that storyline involving her illness, she up and dies with no advance notice. Just open the door and she's dead. Wow.
March 27, 2009
agreed! Her mother's passing was tightly executed. Just a clear exposition of sudden death.
March 27, 2009
There a couple of things that really stick out from that episode. One is where a paramedic is talking to Buffy and we see him from her point of view--its all unfocused and the camera is centered on nothing in particular, she only sees him from the badge down and he's way off to the left. The other scene is where Xander and Anya and Willow and Tara are all in the dorm room just standing around each off isolated in a different corner--there's no sounds at all not even any outside noises. It was just all shot so effectively.
March 23, 2009
Have you read what Stephen King had to say about Stephenie Meyers in a US Weekly interview. I quote, "She can't write worth a darn." Now, I'm not a big fan of King these days, but he's got a point.
March 23, 2009
Yeh. I'll probably skip the book, I got talked into seeing the movie and since I do like vampire films, I gave it a chance. Y'know what's scary, I've heard people say that the movie is better than the book. Usually, it's the other way around...
March 23, 2009
Well, when a book fails to create believable, multi-deimensional characters then the filmmakers get the opportunity to make up for it by hiring good actors and ensuring that the screenwriter(s) flesh them out a bit more than the author. My guess, is that this is what they meant. Or it could be that the film puts a greater emphasis on the pretty-looking people that the book failed to describe in all their shallow prettiness.
March 23, 2009
I'm debating with myself whether or not I'll bother to see this. I've done extensive research into vampire lore and mythology and I'm always weary of anyone who uses it for a window dressing in a story or simply exploits it to create an analogy. In this case "Twilight" author Stephanie Meyers, a conservative Mormon, uses vampire mythology to promote abstinence and preaches against pre-marital sex. The whole "will he or won't he bite her" is just a cliched metaphor for will he give into his own sexual impulses. I have no problem with authors using fantasy, science fiction, and/or horror to make a statement, but in order fo that to work you've got to have a genuinely good idea at the story's core. Meyers doesn't have that and instead she just rips of ideas from other writers like C.S. Lewis and Anne Rice. Yuck!
March 24, 2009
I think you may be better off renting it, Count. It isn't bad, but to tell you the truth, I would have easily rated this 2.5 stars but decided to give it an extra point or two because the cinematography is pretty good. I din't know the author was a conservative mormon. I never read the book so I cannot really say. Scotman says he is having a hard time trying to finish it LOL
March 24, 2009
Changed my mind. I decided to change my initial rating from 3 to 2.5. Something just popped in my head that made it less than a mixed bag.
March 25, 2009
Yeah, there some great vampire comedies out there, and then there are the films that don't know that they're comedies.
March 26, 2009
Someone told me that Bruce Campbell lists "Mormon" as his religion on his site. I doubt it, unless he's joking. He just doesn't seem like a Mormon to me.
March 26, 2009
Could be a joke, but you never know. I was surprised to find out that Rowan Atkinson, best known as Black Adder and Mr. Bean, is a conservative Tory. Didn't see that coming, I must admit. Still, he's hilarious.
March 26, 2009
Just checked the site and it doesn't even seem to mention his religious affiliation. Here's the link: http://www.bruce-campbell.com/pilot.asp
March 27, 2009
I think I must have heard it from Gary. I'll have to ask him where he got it from next time I talk to him.
More Twilight (movie) reviews
review by . April 27, 2009
UPDATE Nov 24, 2009:  For more Twilight fun, check out my list, You might be a Stephenie Meyer Vampire if....      Before I begin, two caveats:      1) SPOILER ALERT:  This review contains spoilers... all over the place.  If you're a 13 year old girl and want to be surprised to find out the really pale super dreamy troubled teenager is actually a vampire... stop reading now.      2) I'm not a 13 year old girl, so  I …
review by . March 16, 2011
Before I start this review, I want to make this quite clear. I am not a twi-hard nor will I ever be. I only watched this to have a running commentary of the movie and we shall do the same for New Moon and Eclipse. Twilight certainly is an interesting cultural phenomenon, and this movie marks its transition to the big screen. I, however, am a teenage girl and these films were marketed towards my age group and that makes me feel sort of compelled to watch it to analyze it. Anyway, I'm getting …
review by . June 26, 2009
The over-priced 2-disc DVD...
     Generally, I’m suspicious of popular trends in entertainment and I avoid exposing myself to any books or movies that I perceive to be conformist, populist, or over-hyped. Most of the time my instincts regarding pop culture are dead on, however there have been some notable exceptions (I was wrong about the Harry Potter novels, which were extremely well-written as well as being successful commercially). But I didn’t expect much when it came to the film adaptation of …
Quick Tip by . March 25, 2011
Interviews with Vampires Trends in the entertainment world are something that we always watch closely. Everyone looks for what the next hottest fashion trend will be. We wait to see which A-list celebrity has a baby and what the new name trends will be. And then we patiently wait for the next greatest thing to come about that will clearly dominate all the markets. Well, the wait is over. The newest greatest thing since pizza bread has finally arrived and it is blowing all of its rivals clear out …
review by . July 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
did they even read the book??
i will say this: had i never read the book, i may have liked this movie. but to bad for summit entertainment, i did read the book and so did a WHOLE lot of other people. it was (or at least seemed to be) really low budget. aside from pattington, who had some notable acting experience, the rest of the acting was really bad. some of the minor supporting actors shined brighter than Bella's character as far as acting goes. and the vampire makeup effects were awful. it looked like baby powder mixed …
review by . June 27, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
   The Twilight Books have become popular all on their own.  They've made a huge dent in the literary world (albeit, for all the wrong reasons, but see my reviews for that).  With becoming such mega huge bestsellers, it's no suprise that they opted for a film.  And while my expectations for the film were low heading in, I'm sad to say that they couldn't even fulfill that.  As I kept watching, my only real thought was... how much worse can it get?      …
review by . May 05, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
More than any other movie released last Fall, I so wanted to hate Twilight & actually made a special point to avoid it at all costs. You might even ask what changed my mind or why I'd bothered going at all. Hell, why write a review for the film? Surprisingly, this was actually somewhat better than I thought & somehow I felt compelled to write up a small one for you guys. Hmm. Empty spot in my schedule, right? Ha!      As anyone will tell you, Twilight has been the …
review by . July 08, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
did they even read the book??
i will say this: had i never read the book, i may have liked this movie. but to bad for summit entertainment, i did read the book and so did a WHOLE lot of other people. it was (or at least seemed to be) really low budget. aside from pattington, who had some notable acting experience, the rest of the acting was really bad. some of the minor supporting actors shined brighter than Bella's character as far as acting goes. and the vampire makeup effects were awful. it looked like baby powder mixed …
Quick Tip by . October 01, 2010
It was okay. I think I liked the book better though I'm not really sure why.
review by . May 12, 2010
I know this is uber popular but if you go beyond the mush, you get to the utter stupidity.        Seriously, a vampire who's been a dr for many many many more years than most of us have lived and he doesn't think to check the blood level-  umm yeah, I buy that.  But a werewolf with no experience of pregnancy figures that one out.      She has to drink the blood- sure, because there is no such thing as an iv I guess.      …
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About this movie


Twilight is a 2008 American romantic vampire film based on Stephenie Meyer's popular novel of the same name. Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, the film stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. It is the first film in The Twilight Saga film series. This film focuses on the development of the relationship between Bella Swan (a teenage girl) and Edward Cullen (a vampire), and the subsequent efforts of Cullen and his family to keep Swan safe from a coven of evil vampires.

The project was in development for approximately three years at Paramount Pictures, during which time a screen adaptation that differed significantly from the novel was written. Summit Entertainment acquired the rights to the novel after three years of the project's stagnant development. Melissa Rosenberg wrote a new adaptation of the novel shortly before the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike and sought to be faithful to the novel's storyline. Principal photography took 44 days, and completed on May 2, 2008; the film was primarily shot in Oregon.

Twilight was theatrically released on November 21, 2008, grossing over US$392 million worldwide. It was released on DVD March 21, 2009, and became the most purchased DVD of the year. The soundtrack was released on November 4, 2008. Following the film's success, New Moon and Eclipse, the next two novels in the series, were produced as films the following year.
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Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance
Release Date: November 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: Summit Entertainment (October 27, 2009)
Runtime: 122 minutes
Studio: Summit Entertainment
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