At the risk of alienating any early teen female readers of hoopla.nu who will probably lap up Twilight and go back for more, it really just isn’t very good.
Now a worldwide phenomenon, it appears that Stephenie Meyer’s novels of young love may have capitalised on the success of the Harry Potter series… while Harry has finally won his battle with Lord Voldemort, his fans are growing older and their need for pseudo-supernatural fiction has merged with that for Mills & Boon-style bodice ripping.
When Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) moves from her home town of Phoenix to the tiny village of Forks in Washington to live with her father, she must go through that most dreadful of teenage inconveniences – starting at a new school. Immediately capturing her attention is Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson, who used to be Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire), a bizarrely made-up pseudo-goth with pasty skin and similarly pasty foster siblings. Although she does make more normal friends, it is Edward who will change her life as he develops into her first true love.
The pasty appearance of the mysterious Cullen clan is most helpful, as it evokes a perfect description of both the anaemic plot and the uninspired performances. One wonders how Meyer has managed to capture so many avid fans, although it may just be that the book contains far more drama and substance than this screen retelling. Nonetheless, this film will be an introduction to Meyer’s world for many, and seems unlikely to win her many new fans.
The tone of the film may well be considered to be appropriate for a younger audience, but Twilight is just so unbelievably naive and forceably chaste, it is hard to accept when one considers the long and venerable list of attributes most frequently associated with this film genre. Bella and Edward fight ever-so-hard against their lesser urges, in a less-than-subtle message about youth sex, while girls dress to maximise their cleavage and then are morally outraged when any male dares notice. This world feels more like fantasy than those of many more obviously fantastical films.
Alongside the weak romantic-drama storyline, the plot holes are frequent and hard to ignore. A family so capable at hiding their identities can be figured out by any little girl in town for five minutes? The tracker with the most incredible skills in generations can be undone by a ‘vegetarian’?
Stewart is passable as Bella, and is certainly an arresting screen presence who draws more attention than many of her costars. Pattinson is lumbered with a role playing a supposedly tortured young man whose torture barely rates a mention, while for the remainder of the film he is allowed to be only brooding. He is less than convincing in the role, and one wonders how subsequent films will turn out with Edward as the lead male character.
This is one of those occasions when a review will be essentially meaningless – either you’re unaware of the teen phenomenon that is Twilight, in which case you probably won’t bother, or, you’re a teenage girl who lined up to get in to the first session this morning, and then squealed and whistled with every twist and turn. Box office success will mean more of these films will be made… you can read the hoopla.nu review of New Moon in 2010.Rating: