By Gen Mc Bride
At 12:01 a.m. on Friday, November 21, hundreds of excited fans, who’ve been holding their breaths in anticipation of seeing their Twilight book come to life, will finally breathe a wistful sigh of relief and adoration. Over and over. And over again. If you enjoy watching movies in relative quiet, don’t go to this one unless it’s during the week during school hours. Otherwise, brace yourself for the squeals, squeaks, and repeatedly verbal OMG’s.
I shared a theater earlier this week with squealing teens and tweens, and a few older members of the Twilight sisterhood, but from the screams and sighs that resonated throughout the movie, you wouldn’t have guessed there was anyone older than sixteen present. When the theater went dark as the movie started, giddy shrieks filled the theater and as the Northwest scenery unfolded, collective gasps signaled the growing anticipation as they awaited the heroine’s first appearance.
Bella Swan is Twilight’s heroine, a high school junior who leaves Phoenix, Arizona to live with her father to give her recently remarried mother the opportunity to travel with her new husband. Her father is the chief of police in the small, rain-soaked town of Forks, Washington, population 3,120. Although it isn’t her first time in Forks, it’s obvious she hasn’t spent a lot of time with her father and the awkwardness is obvious. But because she is Chief Swan’s daughter, we shouldn’t be surprised that Bella’s return has been long-awaited and she’s welcomed eagerly by townfolk and classmates alike.
The predominantly female audience let out admiring hoots when Jacob Black, a childhood friend, was introduced, and knowing chuckles were heard as other supporting characters made themselves known. As the new flavor in school, Bella attracts quite a bit of attention, but it’s the Cullens who catch her eye. The biggest cheer from the audience came when the Cullens made their entrance, and oh, what an entrance they made. A striking group of five foster kids adopted by the town doctor, they’re clearly in a league of their own. Four of the Cullens are paired off, leaving Edward Cullen the odd man out, and Bella finds herself inexplicably drawn to the incredibly handsome loner, the one who wrings the most ardent sighs from the moviegoers in attendance.
In a town that sees the least amount of sun anywhere in the world, year-round, the lack of tans was, of course, unsurprising. But the Cullens take pale to a higher level and yet apparently no one but Bella is curious as to why. It’s not like the other girls were immune to the beautiful Edward, but apparently Edward was immune to them. Until Bella. And thus an unorthodox love story is born, uncoventional but sweet. Passionate, yet quite chaste. With Jacob’s storytelling and some help from Google, Bella discovers Edward and his family are vampires. We learn that they’re unique vampires, ones who can come out during the day, aren’t burned by the sun and who don’t prey on humans, but we also learn this last particular characteristic isn’t shared by all vampires.
My husband and I debated on who would review this movie because he hasn’t read any of the books and I’ve read three of the four. Undoubtedly he would’ve been more objective, while I subconsciously and consciously checked off what was and wasn’t captured by the movie. As a fan, I enjoyed it. As a critic, I had issues with it. As a movie adaptation of the popular tome by Stephenie Meyer, Twilight is adequately loyal to the book. Kristen Stewart’s portrayal of ungraceful, angst-ridden Bella is believable, although the huffs of frustration that preceded a lot of her dialogue reminded me a bit of Jodie Foster, with whom Kristen co-starred in “Panic Room.” Chief Swan is superbly played with gruff stoicism by Billy Burke and it’s his relationship with Bella that brings a realistic touch to the film.
Jacob Black, played by Taylor Lautner, appears sporadically just as he does in the first book, although in the movie, he does so with distractingly white teeth. I’m not sure about Peter Facinelli as the benevolent Dr. Carlisle, although he inspired quite a bit of swooning himself. Of course, the real draw for fans is Robert Pattison’s depiction of Edward, who is written as the epitome of urbane perfection. Talk about pressure. Honestly, the white pancake make-up and red lips was a bit off-putting, but it’s toned down more and more as the movie progresses, and the Edward fans expect emerges more and more as well. Catherine Hardwicke, whose previous work include the edgier “Thirteen” and “Lords of Dogtown,” provides direction and pace that will most likely satisfy fans who won’t want the movie to end in the first place. But for those not familiar with the book, it will probably feel a bit long. Like the book, the movie isn’t exactly for everyone. But like the the book, given a chance, it could grow on you. At least enough to make you feel 16 all over again for just a little while.