Review: TWILIGHT (2008) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Monday, 20 September 2010

Review: TWILIGHT (2008)

RATING: 2.5/5

Based on the insanely popular young adult novel by Stephenie Meyer, TWILIGHT (which is the first one in a four-part series) is essentially an age-old love story in the vein of Romeo and Juliet-style dressed in a modern vampire genre, geared for the particular demographic under 17-year-old. Stories like that is nothing new at all, and TWILIGHT is no exception but somehow director Catherine Hardwicke, who took this unlikely task, understands the rabid madness behind the success of TWILIGHT and successfully crafted a little picture that definitely hit the heart, as in Meyer's novel, of the under 17-year-old demographic especially the female audiences.

The film begins well, as we learn 16-year-old Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) decides to move out from her Phoenix, Arizona, home and heads far off in the small Northwestern town of Forks, Washington right after her mother, Renee Dwyer (Sarah Clarke) travels around the country with her new husband, who is a minor league baseball player. Once there, Bella is nervous about how she is going to fit herself in a new school and especially getting to know his father, Charlie (Billy Burke), a town sheriff whom they hardly seen each other. Still, she is surprised to find herself receiving a warm welcome from her fellow classmates and she also quickly make some good friends there. Then along comes the mysterious Cullens, where she is particularly lay eyes on the reserved outsider Edward (Robert Pattinson), a weirdly handsome and pale-skinned boy who attends school with his adopted brothers and sisters Emmett (Kellan Kutz), Rosalie (Nikki Reed), Alice (Ashley Greene) and Jasper (Jackson Rathbone). Bella wants to get to know him well when she sits next to him in a biology class. But instead a simple gesture of getting-to-know-each-other, Edward seems to be acting like he's having a seizure and feels particularly uncomfortable with Bella beside him. Bella, in turn, feels strange about his odd behavior and wants to know what has gone wrong. Then comes one day when he miraculously saves her from getting hit by an out-of-control car, halting the vehicle with nothing but his strength of a bare hand. From there on, she realizes there are secrets he is hiding from her. No sooner later, they start falling for each other.

Right up to that point, director Catherine Hardwicke and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg hit all the right button in the first half as they crafted a finely-tuned teenage slice-of-life melodrama, from Bella's life adjustment to to the new surrounding and finally to her awkward start and love-at-first-sight with the mysterious Edward Cullen. We really feel how deeply passionate Bella and Edward are so in love at each other, that even during a brief kissing scene, the result is so tempting, intimate yet intoxicating. That of course, if only Hardwicke can sustained the fine momentum of her picture.

But once the second half kicks in, and the plot thickens, their ongoing romance quickly turns into a sappier romance melodrama chock-filled with cheesy dialogues you might roll your eyes at. Cringe-worthy lines like when Edward declared to Bella, "You're like my own personal brand of heroin" or "You are my life now" certainly sounds corny, but I bet most of the particular female demographics won't mind a bit such cheesy naivety. Then there's the clunky thriller subplot, involving a hungry vampire named James (Cam Gigandet) who wants get to taste Bella at all cost, seemingly appears out of nowhere, as if for the sake to roughen up the sappy spot for something dramatic. Before that, there's the silly baseball scene where the Cullens play the American's favorite past-time in the open field during a roaring thunder where they use their inhuman strength to beat against each other, which is more unintentionally laughable than supposedly exciting.

As for the cast, it's hard to deny that Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson are really like matchmaking made-in-heaven couples and no doubt they are likely to become (every) teenage girls' screen favorites-of-the-moment. For Stewart, not only she is lovely, she's particularly good in her progressive and liberal-thinking character that even she forced to downgrade her character doing something dimwitted, she remains believable worth rooting for. But this film is nevertheless a magnetic showcase for relatively unknown Robert Pattinson, who definitely has that certain aura of mysterious-looking persona and a killer physical presence, though his character is somewhat underwhelmed.

Technical credits are throughout ace, with Elliot Davis's often-sensual cinematography taking full advantage of the natural, untainted beauty of the Pacific Northwest surroundings, though his overuse of blue-tinted filter is too much of a distraction. The modest budget of $37 million is used sparingly, particularly on the effects department which favors more on green screen and wireworks than CGI, are surprisingly effective (the final vampire battle scene between Edward and James are among the prime example). With three more novel-to-film adaptations to go, here's hoping the filmmakers can do better the next time around. As for now, this so-called phenomenon is merely half-baked effort.


free movies said...

I do like the cinematography. The movie is gorgeous visually, and as i stated before the acting was not terrible. Don't take the fact that people don't like it to heart. if you like it, that's great.

Adi said...

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