Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Writers: Melissa Rosenberg, Stephenie Meyer
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, Matt Bushell, Taylor Lautner, Gil Birmingham, Anna Kendrick
Synopsis: 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, plastic girls at her Phoenix, Arizona high school. When her mother remarried and Bella chooses to live with her father in the rainy little town of Forks, Washington, she didn'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...
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for some violence and a scene of sensuality
It all started with this movie....
To quote a trailer from George Lucas' "Star Wars" prequels, "Every saga has a beginning".....or maybe it's every soap opera has a beginning in "Twilight's" case... As some of my readers know, I didn't start reviewing the "Twilight" series until it got to "The Twilight Saga: New Moon", and I've reviewed every sequential film since. However, I've never watched the first movie until now. Having said all that, how does "Twilight" hold up? Well, lets go over that now shall we.
The film essentially follows a young teenage girl named Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), who moves to Washington to live with her father, after her mom remarried. Like all young girls, she tries to fit in, and she does quiet well in this movie. However, during school, she meets a mysterious boy named Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). At first, it seems like he hates her guts, but this only seems to draw her more to him. After various encounters, she soon realizes that Edward is not all that he seems to be, as it turns out he's a vampire who's been alive for several centuries. Although one would think that this little fact might scare her off, but quite the contrary here. If anything, this only makes her even more drawn to Edward more, as she can't help but feel attracted to him. While Edward on the other hand, he feels incredibly drawn to her by the scent of her blood.
In the film, Edward seems to possess telepathic abilities, but it's never explained why in the film. Granted, it may be explained in the book, but anyone who knows a lot about movies will know that not all audiences that see said film will have read the book beforehand. Therefore, it comes off as an obvious plot hole in the film; thus it alienates any possibility for new fans to pick up on the reference. For those that might be familiar with old vampire lore, I should tell you that these vampires don't resemble any of it. No, these aren't the vampires that many may have read about in legends like Count Dracula and such. Don't be silly. No, this is Stephenie Meyer's vampires, where they sparkle in direct sunlight, and the Cullen family are vegan vampires. I'm not sure how that works.
However, my best advice for those getting into this movie is to forget everything that you know about vampires beforehand, and it should be a lot easier to swallow from there. Trust me, if you start to compare the Cullen family to real vampires, then you're just going to hate this film even more.
Now that we've erased all preconceived ideas of what a vampire should be like, how does the rest of the film hold up? Well to be honest, I thought it wasn't that bad. Granted, it's not a great movie by any means, but the strong stuff of this movie does stand out well.
For starters, Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen) did a great job in this movie. Seriously, I'm not joking with this comment either, as he captures the internal emotionally conflicted vampire almost perfectly in this film. It's a real shame that he's unable to repeat such a performance in the sequential movies, in light of a poorly written script to work with. However, for this movie alone, he actually pulls off the role rather nicely.
As for Kristen Stewart (Bella), I still feel like she was miscast for this part, as I still say this series would've been so much better off if they had cast Anna Kendrick to be Bella instead. Again, that's just a personal preference, as I think she's a much better actress. However, since she's the actress we're following in this movie, I have to say that her performance here does little to change my mind about her. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure she's probably great in other roles, but in this particular role, she doesn't portray her character rather well. For starters, I can get her acting socially awkward around her father, since she's recently coming from a divorced family, and I can even understand her acting like a shy wall flower, when she tries to fit in at a new school. Seriously, I can understand all of this quite well, but the thing that really baffles me about her is that why can't she show any kind of emotion other than being freaking sad?
Hell, even in "Twilight Breaking Dawn- Part 1", she couldn't even crack a smile on her damn wedding day. Seriously, I thought you loved Edward, so please for the love of god...SMILE! Is that really asking for too much to want Bella to have one stupid emotion outside of being a shy sad wallflower? I don't think I'm asking for much here. Of course, you have Jacob (Taylor Lautner) in this movie for a cameo. Don't worry, he keeps his shirt literally on the whole time...(thank god).. However, he still plays the hopeless sap that loves Bella, but she blows him off to be with Edward. Why am I not surprised?
Other than that, the special effects are below what you'd expect for a big budget movie like this, as the production designs and CGI felt like it was geared more towards a made for TV movie crowd versus a cinema crowd.
However, for what the movie tries to be by meshing in the chick flick teen drama of films with fantasy lore, I honestly didn't think it was that bad. Granted, there was a lot of things they could have gotten better, but it could have been a lot worse as well. It could have been as horribly bad as "New Moon" or "Eclipse." (shudders)
I can see where Catherine Hardwicke and Melissa Rosenberg were going with this movie, as it's clearly obvious Bella was meant to represent the stereotypical teenage girl, who's emotionally insecure. Not saying that all teenage girls are like this, but it's generally portrayed this way in various entertainment mediums. Unfortunately, Kristen for whatever reasons, she can't really seem to nail down the complexities that one would expect from a role like this. It doesn't mean she's necessarily a bad actress per say, as she's just not right for the part...or perhaps it's the mediocre script she's forced to deal with....
As for the rest of the story, it seems to set up the characters for the franchise well, but the ending comes off like a cliched superhero film ending, where Edward has to risk his life to save Bella from some cartoon villain, who's not even given a basic back story.
Overall though, I think this movie was fairly decent for what it tries to be, and I honestly thought this movie had a few strong moments. Granted, there was a lot of things that could have been better in this movie, but at least it's nowhere near as bad as it's follow up movie, "New Moon."
Sure, the film can come off like a badly written teen soap opera sometimes, but some of the scenes, where Bella and Edward interact, can offer very deep character developing moments that allow us to relate to the characters on some basic level. Of course, Kristen's character comes off as a one dimensional stereotype, but the chemistry between her and Pattinson still hold up pretty well in spite of that. And, unlike the other movies, Robert actually manages to portray the internally conflicted vampire quite well. If anything, I'm starting to wonder why he couldn't have pulled off the role this well in the other movies... Maybe it's the horrendously written script he's forced to deal with in each progressive film, or it could be the directors involved. Or, maybe it's a bit of both. Who really knows? All I know is that he does a fairly good job in this movie, so I'm not going to hold those other movies against him.
Although I'm sure I'll get some flak for this from some of my readers, but I have to be unbiased when reviewing these movies, so I'm going to give the first "Twilight" a two and a half out of four. It's a fairly decent movie for what it tries to be, and it does set it up for the later chapters to make a truly great epic love story over time; assuming they work on the flaws from the first movie. Unfortunately, as we already know, it never happens in the sequels.....but at least...it tries... Chances are if you've never liked a "Twilight" film in your life, then this movie probably won't change your mind. However, it's definitely the most tolerable of the series if you want my honest opinion. But make no mistake, this film is squarely aimed for "Twihards" out there, so I'm sure they'll probably come to love this movie.