February 15 2009 at 9:18 am (Cinema reviews)

twilight-poster1Catherine Hardwicke’s adaptation of the first in Stephenie Meyer’s series of novels has ‘target audience’ written all over it, but like Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings before it, its appeal spans genders and generations.


Teenager Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) moves to Forks, Washington to live with her father and immediately becomes a fascination to her new schoolmates. In a welcome break from the tradition of this kind of film, she finds it easy to make friends but is more interested in that oh-so-dreamy guy in her science class, the brooding Edward Cullen (Robert Pattison). When she discovers that the boy comes from a family of vampires, that only deepens her obsession with him and they soon start a relationship. But she soon finds out that being the mortal girlfriend of a member of the undead has its problems.


You know where it’s headed from the get-go so there are no massive surprises. However, it’s filmed and performed with such panache that spending two hours in the company of these characters is actually an enjoyable experience.


It’s also surprisingly original. As a film aimed mainly at teenage girls, it’s more romance than horror – think The Lost Boys meets Romeo and Juliet. The wintry setting lends the film an appropriately cold look. It’s lightly sprinkled with humour (when Bella meets Edward’s family for the first time they are disarmingly normal) and of course, it’s scorchingly romantic – as with many vampire films, it’s really all about sex but it’s handled tastefully.


That doesn’t mean it’s a sissy film. It may be a little slow to start but once it gets going it really has bite. Because it is essentially a chick flick, you almost forget that it’s about vampires so when the film eventually bares its teeth, it almost takes you by surprise.


Not perfect by any means (the film’s turning point occurs during a weird and poorly judged baseball scene and some of the special effects are a bit dodgy) but for a film that arrived with little fanfare, it’s impressive how well people have taken to it. Perhaps that’s not surprising since the books’ popularity and influence has been compared to Harry Potter. Expect sequels.


Rating: 3/5


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