Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Review: Twilight (2008)

Twilight (2008) is a teen vampire romance drama that takes place primarily in the Pacific Northwest United States. Isabella (Bella) Swan moves to Forks, a small town along the Washington state coast, to live with her father, Charlie, after her mother remarries and moves to Florida. On her first day of school, she quickly makes friends by the local high school. Who intrigues her the most is the Cullen family, particularly Edward Cullen. The siblings usually sit alone together in the cafeteria and have mysterious color-changing eyes. Bella sits next to Edward in her biology class, who appears disgusted by her and immediately leaves his seat once class ends. She feels confused and anxious to see him again.

A few days later, Bella is almost struck by a van in the school parking. Edward quickly shields her and stops the spinning van with his hand. Startled and curious, she continues to seek the truth about his abilities. Edward refuses to answer and reminds Bella that no one will believe her. He also warns her against befriending him. Still not convinced, Bella conducts her own research to discover his true identity. She eventually discovers that Edward is a vampire, but she does not fear him. The two fall in love and cannot leave each other apart. He introduces her to his vampire parents and siblings. They arrive at a field to play baseball together.

Meanwhile, three nomadic vampires, who hunt humans for food, have been responsible for unexplained deaths that has shaken the Forks community. When the leader of the vampires discovers Edward's protectiveness over a human, he hunts Bella for sport. Edward and his family risk their lives to protect Bella, but the leader is incredibly smart to fool. Can Edward save the girl he loves before it's too late?

I will admit that I originally did not see this film because I believe the novels by author, Stephenie Meyer, are terribly written. (Most teen novels average around 300 pages.) I finally decided to watch it, and I was simply blown away. Fans are usually skeptical of film adaptations of their favorite novels. I don't blame them. However, I believe after watching the film several times, you begin to appreciate the romance between Bella and Edward.

I definitely liked the character development. I instantly fell for Edward's handsome and mysterious persona. He may look dark and aloof, but he's really a good and honorable guy. Although I thought Bella was too bland and stubborn, I gradually liked her tenacity and determination to stay by Edward's side. I also liked the lighting because it fit the mood and instantly reminded me of the Pacific Northwest region (rainy and cloudy). I also liked the humor and diversity of the characters (The Asian characters played their roles well.) I thought the human characters could have looked somewhat less pale (Bella at times definitely looked sick-looking for someone arriving from Arizona).

How could I write a positive rating for this film? I understand that directors cannot always add every single detail from the novels into one film. At 120 minutes in length, the producers had to make some tough decisions, especially if there will be future sequels in the making. Furthermore, this film did not bore me. The action was fantastic; you quickly discover the great strength and speed of vampires. It puts a different spin on the portrayal of vampires: there are some good ones in society who want to mainstream and protect humans! The ending definitely foreshadows the next film, New Moon, with more enemies and explanation about specific characters, such as the rivalry between vampires and werewolves.

I do not plan to read the novels. I browse them in the bookstore, and the length is too long for my taste and time (500+ pages each). The series also have editing problems (something fans have repeatedly criticized in their reviews). I thought Twilight was a very well-made teen film, and I look forward to its sequel. I give it three out of four stars simply because the directors actually wanted to make this film strong and successful. Some scenes did look cheap and silly, and had some significant plot holes and sub-par acting (particularly Kristen Stewart). But this isn't an Oscar-worthy masterpiece. Its target audience is teens and young adults. I highly recommend it.

Stay tuned for further updates about the next sequel in the Twilight film series, New Moon.

Twilight Film Trailer

This film is available to buy and rent on DVD.

UPDATE #3 (May 14, 2009): New information has been leaked about the third movie, Eclipse. It will premiere a little over seven months after New Moon.

UPDATE #2 (April 3, 2009): The Twilight series sequel, New Moon, is set for a November 2009 cinema release.

UPDATE (April 2, 2009): The Los Angeles Times recently posted an interview with Kristen Stewart (actress of Isabella Swan) stating the sequel, New Moon, would be more tragic than Twilight. Bella loses Edward! Stay tuned for more updates.


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