The first instalment of Stephenie Meyer’s cult book series makes it to the big screen, much to the delight of teen girls everywhere, and much to the dismay of the boyfriends and gay buddies that will undoubtedly have to escort them.
For those who haven’t heard of this so-called ‘vampire phenomenon’, the books attempt to combine Victorian style romance (perhaps including more bodice-ripping than even Jane Austen may have intended) with supernatural phenomena in present day, small-town America.
The first of the four novels, Twilight, focuses almost exclusively on the burgeoning love between the teenage main characters: Bella Swan, a human girl, and Edward Cullen, a moody vampire who just happens to attend her high school. Most of the conflict between them emerges from the fact that Edward’s bloodlust could mean a rather messy end to their relationship, much to the woe of perpetual whiner/narrator, Bella, who takes every opportunity to alert the reader to her angst.
Meyer has also taken it upon herself to rewrite the vampire mythos, with her own creations exhibiting powers and abilities that would have Bram Stoker spinning in his grave. Edward Cullen has no trouble walking around during the day, and has enhanced senses (including super-strength, heightened agility and extreme charisma) that make him so close to perfect it’s difficult to understand as to why he’s even remotely interested in his plane-Jane human girlfriend.
While the film is certainly not as badly written as its source material, it still manages to be just as unintentionally hilarious in its portrayal of teenage romance. Bella and Edward (played by Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson respectively), manage to remain as vapid and angst-filled as their literary counterparts, but the onscreen chemistry between the two young characters makes them far more interesting to watch than they were to read about.
The fact that Pattinson makes a rather dashing Nosferatu might have something to do with it, and his combination of brooding stares and classic good looks is enough to make any girl (or guy) swoon.
However, while watching the two attractive leads onscreen is somewhat compelling, it’s the nature of their relationship that proves to be dubious. Their ‘love’ affair is characterised by obsessiveness, lust and misogyny, which, considering the target audience (throngs of teenage girls), is more than just a little disturbing.
Edward is emotionally manipulative (with Bella falling for all of his ploys, of course) and his moodiness would be a turn-off to even the most patient partner, which is why it’s difficult to believe that anyone would put up with him even with those good looks. Must be all that vampiric charm.
Considering that the characters themselves aren’t all that likeable, it’s difficult to be entertained by a movie that rarely veers from their relationship-issues. A subplot concerning a particularly unimpressive antagonist takes a backseat to the melodramatics that the two lovebirds (and the audience) must endure before their inter-species dependence can blossom, but after two and a half hours, you’ll most likely be sufficiently apathetic to their plight.
The cinematography and directing is paint-by-numbers stuff, with most of the camera-work focusing on the two leads ninety percent of the time, which, depending on your point of view, might not be such a bad thing. However, the special effects that accompany the limited number of action scenes is oddly stylised and looks cheap, and in a movie that focuses so greatly on aesthetics, seems very out of place.
Twilight is only truly enjoyable for die-hard fans of the book series, but if you’re dragged along by a friend, just turn off your brain, ignore the dialogue and try to focus on the eye-candy.