Science fiction and fantasy                                            


directed by Catherine Hardwicke

Twilight poster  
Twilight isn't particularly controversial on an ideological level, but it really does polarise opinion. If you don't happen to have a crush on Robert Pattinson, don't expect to get a whole lot out of this vampire flick.

The movie is inevitably a condensed version of Stephenie Meyer's book. This simplified story doesn't capture Bella's teenage angst as well as the novel does. In the book she's a clumsy, neurotic, self-conscious outsider, crippled with self-doubt and an overwhelming need to be emo. In the movie she's more or less normal.

So when Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) moves to a new school in rainy Forks we don't hear much about how awkward she feels, and the jealousies amongst her small group of new friends are underplayed. Those things are cut in order to focus on the really important matter of Bella staring dreamily at Edward Cullen (Pattinson), who looks so white and chiselled he might as well be a statue. He even turns out to have a rather unlikely glitter effect in the sunshine, like some kind of spangly new-age crystal from the Lily Savage school of vampire design. His sparkly good looks come complete with a constantly tortured expression, because there's nothing more attractive than a guy who can more or less manage a bit of self-control and doesn't care who knows it.

The Twilight story is a metaphor. In the book you might be able to miss what the vampires' hunger is really all about, but the film drives the message home with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. When it comes to action scenes it's somewhat tamer, however. Edward himself is more puppy-dog than dangerous monster, in spite of what he says. It's perfect for an audience who require their brooding, edgy vamps to be squeaky-clean-cut and carbon neutral.

The Cullen family are the undead equivalent of hair-shirt wearing, hippy vegetarians. Aside from the fact that some of them show a certain coldness towards Bella, they're ethically fastidious and disconcertingly nice. It's this pleasantness that will have some viewers reaching for the sick bag. If only they had it in them to be a little bit nastier.

Instead we get the safe, acceptable face of darkness. There may be a minor sub-plot about a few bloodthirsty killers hunting down and trying to kill Bella, but that's filler. It pales in comparison with the true drama: meeting each other's parents, attending the prom, matriculating, driving a banger, and all of the other rites of passage faced by modern teenagers. Not to mention the heady delights of gazing endlessly at Edward Cullen's perfect bone structure. If that doesn't tickle your fancy, nor will Twilight.

Film Details

Year: 2008

Categories: Films


Classification: 12

If you like this, try:

Beautiful Creatures cover    

Beautiful Creatures by Richard LaGravenese
A young man wants to leave his small town, until Lena arrives and brings magic and madness into his life. An adaptation of the novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part Two cover    

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part Two by Bill Condon
Bella and Edward fight for their family against ancient vampires who will destroy those they declare to be abominations.

Breaking Dawn cover    

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
Bella Swan is about to get married, but what kind of life can she expect if she weds a vampire? The fourth in the Twilight series.

3 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson