Girl Meets Vampire in Screen Adaptation of Romantic Fantasy
Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) has decided to live with her father (Billy Burke) to make it easier for her recently-remarried mother (Sarah Clarke) to accompany her husband, a minor league baseball player (Matt Bushell), on road trips This means that Bella must move from sunny Phoenix, Arizona to perpetually overcast Forks, Washington, a dreary town whose only claim to fame is that it’s located on the rainiest spot in the nation.
At her new high school, the socially-awkward 17 year-old proves to be pretty popular, and finds herself being courted by classmates representing a variety of familiar teensploitation archetypes, from the handsome hunk (Michael Welch) to the nerdy Asian (Justin Chon) to the jive black guy (Gregory Tyree Boyce). But the shy loner opts to keep to herself until the fateful day she spots gorgeous Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) across the crowded cafeteria.
Bella’s warned on the spot by her gossipy girlfriend, Jessica (Anna Kendrick), that Ed and his four, equally-pale foster siblings are strange and keep to themselves. In fact, there’s a nasty rumor that they might date each other, and that their father, Dr. Carlisle Cullen (Peter Facinelli), behaves more like a matchmaker than a legal guardian.
Nonetheless, from that moment on, Bella finds the aloof pretty boy irresistible. And Edward’s as attracted to her too, though not exactly for the same reason. What Bella doesn’t know is that he’s a vampire, albeit one trying to go vegetarian. Yet, her alluring scent operates on him like a drug, leaving him torn between treating her like a soulmate and like his next meal. So, when the two start flirting in Biology class, she hasn’t a clue that it takes all his strength to resist sinking his fangs into her neck.
The first hint Bella gets that something’s weird is when Edward saves her life by stopping a careening car with his bare hands. When she subsequently guesses that he’s a superhero like Superman or Spider-Man, he instead honestly warns her that he’s bad news. However, she’s already too smitten to keep her distance. “I trust you,” is the best response she can muster, after he eerily admits, “I’ve never wanted a human’s blood so much.”
Does this star-crossed romance stand a chance? Will Bella’s dad, the shotgun-toting, local sheriff, solve the mystery of the serial killer who’s been hunting for humans in time? Or, can the Cullen clan convince Edward that he’d be better off dating his own species?
These are the burning questions at the heart of Twilight, as inspired an overhaul of the vampire genre as you could ever hope to encounter. Directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen), the film is based on the phenomenally-popular series of young adult novels by Stephenie Meyer.
This visually-enchanting screen version is full of surprising twists, humorous asides and novel special effects all of which combine to keep the picture quite compelling. Another plus is the convincing chemistry generated by Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, a must when you’re asking your leads to execute such an improbable-sounding premise. For what female in her right mind would stay in a relationship with a freak fond of frequently saying scary things like, “I’m a killer” and “I’m the world’s most dangerous predator.”
Most importantly, since we’re essentially dealing with horror fare here, Twilight must be commended for serving up two hours of non-stop, edge-of-your-seat tension, as you never know what to expect next from this endlessly-inventive mindbender. The genre has certainly come a long way from I Was a Teenage Werewolf.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence and sensuality.
Running time: 121 minutes
Studio: Summit Entertainment
To see a trailer for Twilight,