Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My "Twilight" review

It's been almost 10 years since I graduated high school. So, I'm slightly removed from what contemporary high schools are like but I have a feeling there will always be the girls striving to be perfect, the over-achieving academics, and the jocks out for all the attention.

Catherine Hardwicke's record-breaking new film "Twilight" starring Kristen Stewart ("Panic Room" and "Into the Wild") and Robert Pattinson ("Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire") lead the cast of the film based upon Stephenie Meyer's teen vampire love saga of the same name. Stewart and Pattinson, along with co-stars Taylor Lautner ("The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl"), Nikki Reed (Hardwicke's "Thirteen") and Kellan Lutz (tv's "90210"), portray the Teen Vogue-esque cast that embodies beauty, brawns, and flaws of adolescent angst.

Unlike other books-turned-films of recent past, most notably the "Harry Potter" series, "Twilight" is lucky to have a strong adapted screenplay penned by Melissa Rosenberg ("The O.C." and "Ally McBeal") that captures the true essence of its author's work. The 498-page epic novel translates nicely into a two-hour film escape that works for everyone from 'tweens to their "Twilight moms." Even guys can find something to like whether its the bad ass vampires or the hottie girl eye-candy.

Some of the high school scenes make "Twilight" uncomfortable to watch. But, in retrospect, most of high school was uncomfortable. You can empathize with the new student, Bella Swan (Stewart), as she tries to make friends at school, or not hit the cute boy in her gym class with a wickedly spiked volleyball. Hardwicke and her cast seemlessly portray the gossiping and joking natures that have made up high schools for years, and will surely continue to invade for years to come.

What makes "Twilight" successful is the chemistry between Stewart and Pattinson. Bella's love for the century old Edward Cullen comes alive on-screen. As an avid reader of the "Twilight" saga, my heart raced as Edward says "There's one thing I've always wanted to try," and leans in to kiss his true love.

While the forbidden love story between mortal and vampire is probably the biggest draw, there are elements of comic relief, surprise, and action. A vampire baseball game propelled with the help of British alt-rockers Muse and their song "Supermassive Black Hole" will get you geared up for opening day and cheering for the Forks, Wash., baseball team. The culminating sequence between Edward and James (Cam Gigandet) demonstrates the power that these unconventional vampires possess. Plus, the film will leave you wondering just what is up with werewolves?

There won't be any best actor or best film Oscars coming from this film, but don't be surprised if you see a best adapted screenplay nod coming when nominations are announced. Plus, you have three more films to wait for. Summit Entertainment has announced a green light on at least two of the last three "Twilight" saga novels. Stewart and Pattinson will be making $12 million each for "New Moon," an increase of $10 million.

That said, I'd go back to high school in a heartbeat if there were guys with impossibly perfect coiffed hair, hypnotically smooth voices and ivory-toned skin like Rob Pattinson.

"Twilight" trivia
  • Rob Pattinson contributes two songs to the film's soundtrack and he plays the piano on "Bella's Lullabye".
  • Author Stephenie Meyer makes a cameo in the film in a sequence in the diner (she orders a salad and is working on a laptop).
  • The opening weekend gross of $70.6 million is the most for any female director.
  • Kristen Stewart picked the prom dance song that Edward and Bella dance to "Flightless Bird, American Mouth" by Iron & Wine.

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