D: Catherine Hardwicke. DP: Elliot Davis. W: Melissa Rosenberg. Starring: Kristen Stewart/Robert Pattinson/Nikki Reed/Peter Facinelli/Cam Gigandet/Billy Burke/Taylor Lautner/Ashley Greene/Kellan Lutz/Jackson Rathbone. (NOTE: Based on Stephanie Meyer’s young adult fiction book of the same name).
After delving into the first of a saga, Twilight braves into familiar territory with a challenging and skeptical demographic to appease. Come on, romantics are popping up at all ages and this book (and film) hits right at home. Thankfully, unlike the novel, the Twilight film picks up the pace, removing much of what was annoyingly tangential in the novel. The film obviously lends itself to more action, but also more scenery, giving Forks, Washington a beauty untapped in the book.
Bella Swan (Stewart) is just as likable as ever, awkward, clever and absolutely clueless about her own appeal. Stewart is evident of great casting at work, she lives up to Bella’s flaws and would only have benefited from a stronger story structure to round out her role. A stronger structure that would have made her move to Forks a tad more developed and in turn herself. The audience needs to know Bella before her all consuming love enters life. And that it does…in the form of inexperienced British actor Pattinson. Pattinson saunters onscreen attempting to fill the shoes of a suave, century-wise and luminous vampire attending Stewart’s new high school. However, his take on Edward Cullen is as much of an acting exercise as our knowledge is (ahem…ladies) that Edwards only breathe in novels. (But in his case there isn’t breathing involved at all, oh the irony). Pattinson doesn’t entirely disappoint, but he lacks the weight of a man whose been through years and loneliness and begs me to wonder where Hardwicke was for some of his scenes.
The supporting cast, although not given much to do, fills out the film to create a new family for Bella and her expected typical high school world. Apparently, while Hardwicke was out for a coffee she laid off her good make-up artist. As throughout Twilight the Cullens’ make-up is far to obvious along with the sad excuse for special effects. We all have imaginations, but in a film adaption I expect actual satiation of my appetite to curl up to the book instead of turning on the film.
What is not absent is a sense of time and place, Forks, although missing some of its quaintness, cements the film in the middle of nowhere. Forks’ forests (mostly shot in Oregon and Washington) also illuminate the frame and give the lovers a playground that roots us back into the magic of Twilight. Sudden, intense and new, the scented love connection between the two actors is evident and is what fuels the film to the end. Such that despite silly story changes and typical prom sequences, we are all reminded of first love. That flash. That for Bella might not be gone before she knows it. Or will it? No worries middle schoolers, sequels are already solidified.