Twilight (2008)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Twilight (2008) starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Cam Gigandet, Taylor Lautner directed by Catherine Hardwicke - movie review on The Movie Scene

It's a Vampire Swan Song

Vampires have featured in cinema since time pretty much began and in that time we've had the 80's reincarnation with "The Lost Boys" and "Near Dark" and even Tom Cruise donning the fangs as Lestat de Lioncourt in "Interview with the Vampire" and to be frank whilst these movies were okay, vampires never did much for me. Then comes "Twilight" one of the latest entries in the world of vampire movies and a teen vampire movie at that. Lots of hype has surrounded the "Twilight" movies and that of its main stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, as such I was sort of put off watching a movie which has wooed millions of teens. But I was pleasantly surprised because "Twilight" is a surprisingly entertaining movie with for most has a solid storyline, decent performances and some nice special effects.

Having moved to Forks, Washington to live with her estranged father, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart – Jumper) soon settles into her new school except she becomes fascinated by the dark brooding teenager Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), who she shares a desk with. But she is in for a shock when she discovers that Edward along with his family are a bunch of vampires, causing major issues when they start to fall for each other and pushing Edward's control of his primal instincts to the limit. But the Cullens are not the only vampires in Forks and some are not as nice as others.

Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in Twilight

What is certain is that in the space of 122 minutes "Twilight" packs in a decent amount of storyline and manufactures it in such a way that it leads nicely to a sequel. We go through quite a traditional set up, the young Bella going to live with her estranged father in a small town and whilst she doesn't struggle to fit into a new school full of your photo fit teens she does become inquisitive about a certain set of teens, The Cullens who seem withdrawn from the crowd. It works quite well as a set up giving us something familiar to associate with yet then giving us that bit extra, that bit of I suppose mystery surrounding the pale bunch of misfit kids who stay away from the crowd and go missing on sunny days.

"Twilight" even progresses nicely as we learn all about the Cullens vampire tendencies, a bit of mythology and the obvious attraction between Bella and Edward. But whilst it's an obvious romantic element it's still cleverly developed with Edward struggling not to stick his teeth into Bella's neck and his almost self loathing at what he is. It again gives us that sense of being comfortable with the storyline because it is all very familiar but then develops the avenues as it introduces us to the world of vampires.

At this point most movies would have settled at that, an introduction to all the players delivering an element of romance and then hoping that it would be enough to get a sequel. But "Twilight" goes a step further, it develops a dramatic storyline about another group of blood sucking vampires and as such adds something more to what otherwise would have been just another boring romance around vampires.

In a way I wish it would have ended there because if I have one real issue that is "Twilight" delivers such a terrible, totally corny post gig climax ending that it pretty much spoils everything which went on before. Yes, it builds up the character relationships and leads nicely on to a sequel but man is it cheesy, disappointingly cheesy.

As for the undying love of all the teen fans over the performances from Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, well I was shockingly impressed. Kristen Stewart is sweet but also strong as Bella Swan, obviously very attractive but Stewart also makes her character interesting, strong minded rather than some dappy teen caricature and not to over the top when it comes to the slightly quirky. But it is Pattinson who really impressed; yes there is all the obvious to it, the fact that Pattinson is handsome in the modern movie sense of the word and delivers that charming side that makes you like him. But what really impressed me was his delivery of self loathing, you got a real sense that he felt tortured for being condemned to life as a permanent 17 year old that has to keep his vampire instincts in check all the time. The pairing of Stewart and Pattinson works well and carry off the troubled romantic side perfectly with out feeling too cliche, even though it often is.

Aside from Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson who to be frank are the main focus of "Twilight" the supporting performances are equally solid with Peter Facinelli really giving an interesting take on being a vampire as the paternal Dr. Carlisle Cullen and Billy Burke as Bella's father Charlie gives a restrained but entertaining performance as we get a sense of the awkwardness between father and daughter after so much time estranged.

Other than the good performances "Twilight" actually features a nice array of special effects from the subtle moments such as eye and face changes to the rather bigger moments which highlight the powers that Edward possesses such as strength and speed. It doesn't try to make them look overly real, almost giving it that exaggerated super hero feel that would be more at home in a Superman movie. But it is also the slightly quirky; the scene where Bella drops an apple works well because it makes you look twice to see what really happened as Edward swiftly gets the apple.

What this all boils down to is that "Twilight" pleasantly surprised me. For the most the storyline is well crafted leading you nicely on a journey into the world of teen vampires, blending it with a romantic element as well as a sense of danger, but then spoils things with a terrible ending. But then the performances are good and both Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson do a nice job of leading the movie. Frankly it's well worth a watch because it's good, not great, but better than I expected.

Tags: Vampire Movies


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