Author: Stephenie Meyer
Published by Little, Brown and Company
Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson
Released: November 21, 2008
Twilight, the biggest book phenomenon among young adults since Harry Potter introduces Bella Swan, an incredibly average teenage girl, and Edward Cullen, her incredibly unusual love interest. Bella leaves sunny Phoenix for cloud-soaked Forks, Washington to live with her father (who happens to be the police chief of the 3000 person town). Clumsy Bella charms all the young men in Forks, with the exception of our cold-blooded hero, Edward. He seems to be repulsed by the very scent of her. Through the course of a few hundred pages (or a couple of hours) we learn that Edward isn’t truly repulsed by Bella, but rather is inhumanly attracted to her scent; specifically the smell of her blood. Edward, along with his super-humanly beautiful family are a coven of vampires who also routinely make their home in Forks.
Twilight pairs traditional teenage angst (Will Jessica ever get the nerve to ask Mike to the Sadie Hawkins dance? Should Bella re-use the paper about Pride and Prejudice that she wrote in Phoenix for an assignment in Forks?), with a retelling of Romeo and Juliet‘s lovers who can never be together. It also incorporates a healthy dose of history, chase, and suspense. By the end, you’ve grown to hope for Bella and Edward, and can hardly wait to pick up the next book in the series.
Spending just over 2 hours (122 minute run time) alone in the dark with a family of vampires sounds like it might be a bit of a scary idea. But when the vampires are the Cullen family as highlighted in Twilight, rather than a sense of fear, you come out with a sense of hope for a love that lives forever.
Alright, I’ll give it to you that there’s something worthwhile about picking unknowns to play roles in films like this. Afterall, no one knew who Daniel Radcliffe or Emma Watson was before the Harry Potter movies. But when you’re creating a teenage love story about an impossibly beautiful vampire (he glitters in sunlight, for goodness sake), you should probably pick the most attractive young man around. And as much hype as there is for Rob Pattinson, I’d rather stay away from his drug-dazed look, and not just because he’s a vampire. The rest of his family lacks the striking beauty that Meyer describes as well. The one exception may be Carlisle Cullen, the father of the unlikely brood. The rest of the characters are well-casted; while they may not match the descriptions in the book, they’re believable and likable.
While the film adaptation of Twilight hits the highlights, cramming close to 500 pages of story into a 2 hour movie means that a few things have to get cut out. Unfortunately, in the film we lose all of the history of the Cullen family. You no longer learn how Carlisle built his vampire family, how Edward came to be the way that he is, or what they eat in comparison to the other vampires. This extended dialog helps build the foundation of the story that helps the overall series move forward. If you’re only in it for the one movie, you won’t ever miss it.
Overall, the film of Twilight is a passable version of the story, but if you’d like to love the characters even more, then dive into the book.