Twilight (Summit Entertainment, 2008)

The movie Twilight, based on a novel by Stephenie Meyer, tells the story of a teenage girl named Bella and a vampire, Edward, who fall for each other. Kristen Stewart (Panic Room) stars as Bella and Robert Pattingson (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) as the Jim-Stark-esque bloodsucker.

Clearly, the leads are invested in doing a good job and yield earnest performances. Their portrayals walk the difficult line between "brooding" and appearing to be falling in love. Bella's friends from high school complement the leads with their perkiness, particularly Eric (Justin Chon) and Jessica (Anna Kendrick). Although romance is at the film's center, action arises in the form of a sports game as well as in the form of a fight sequence, the latter as Edward and his family rally to protect Bella from a vicious, out-of-town vampire. The scenery is terrific; highlights include forests of the Pacific Northwest and stately, 70-year-old Kalama High School, moodily captured on overcast days.

On the down side, there are some plot holes. For example, Edward uses his secret superpowers to save Bella from being crushed by a car in view of numerous kids, yet no one besides Bella becomes curious. Later in the film, after Edward's family thoughtfully prepares a meal for Bella on the occasion of formally meeting her, she declines because she already ate. Surely a hopelessly lovestruck gal would compromise to show some appreciation -- maybe have a salad and samples. Of course, some reason was needed for the one family member who's skeptical of the liaison to "snap" and voice her disapproval, but that could've been woven in more skillfully. And, during the fight sequence, Bella is seriously injured: hit, bitten, sent careering over jagged shards of broken mirror. Shortly after, we see her hospitalized but not visibly much worse for the wear. In the most obvious sense, that would suggest she's superhuman like Edward (but I gather that's not the case). In at least these three spots, the plot could've been tightened up.

Despite the parts that ring false, these in my estimation seem "innocent" enough not to detract that much from the overall picture. The earnest lead performances are what's most obvious, and if you allow yourself to go with them you may have a li'l harmless vampire fun.

Overall grade: B+

reviewed by David Nofer

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