Sunday, December 17

Movie Review: Twilight (2008)

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The formula for its charm is very much apparent. There is that dose of ordinary girl-meets-extraordinary boy who becomes a prince charming to the damsel in distress. There are those key elements for romantic spree backed up by both physical and occult-ish appeal to provide much escapism for its targeted audience. And these float toward the surface of what is just supposedly “another overused teen love story offering not much of that impressive pursuit for cinematic greatness.”

This adaptation from Stephenie Meyer’s series of best-selling teen novels merely focuses on an overused plot about what happens to the characters every second of the screen time – leaving no much room to grow their interactions to make more than just an emo romance. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that this type of movie isn’t going to work. In fact, its pure fantasy for girls who want to be princesses while having their bad boys at the same time is what makes it a successful movie franchise.It puts enough smell to the needed teenage moodscape requirements where the chemistry between the main characters Bella and Edward provides enough smoldering desire for the teen crowd.

The swoony supernatural romance and the neo-horror motif both amuses and bemuses – depending on the type of viewer. This kind of movie is primarily for those who enjoy teen screen romance, angst-filled behavior, and underage rebel lust. With a distinctly teenage sense of tragedy and sparkle, this pop moviemaking endeavor is effective in making its target viewers getting crazy over a story about star-crossed lovers trying to bridge the gap between humans and vampires. It is one vampire love affair where sharp teeth, cold hands, and supernatural powers require the viewer to sit back and enjoy the camp; otherwise, it just wouldn’t work.

“Twilight” is definitely after teenage blood as it promotes a defiant human-vampire dating fantasy with some girly swirl of obsession for the main viewers’ delight. Interestingly so, it doesn’t try hard to be hip for its intended crowd. And the weak CGI isn’t in any way an obstruction to hit big on the box office. Not even the dodgy dialogue or the lack of a more developed storyline hinders its success. It may be quite a chore to endure for those unwilling victims; but for its target audience, it sure carries the movie well. The sharp, cool references put accessible fangs for such lucrative teen hook-ups. Watch some vampires play baseball, drive the coolest cars, live in a classy glass mansion, climb trees taller than the penthouse of a city skyscraper, and glitter under sunlight. Now, this is a kind of movie that gets the pop culture-stricken audience excited and addicted. Indeed, it is a blatant attempt to cash in to the devotion of a diehard following with a door naturally left open for the next installment. And for the fans, that is sure going to be another good bite.

Director Catherine Hardwicke, along with screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg, recreates a world where the heroine becomes obsessed with surrender and submission to a man who is constantly tempted to kill her – now that is one sucked-up subtext that is something worth a psychological study in how the real society works around the evolution of culture these days.

“Twilight” is like a vegetarian diet in the vampire movie canon. For those uninitiated and outsiders from the movie’s intended demographic, this kind of pop treat is just overused, dopey, and melodramatic. The jumble of cuts and pastes from the book, along with the music video bits, and then some second-rate visual effects, is merely a hackneyed teenybopper show of synthetic affection. As a vampire story, there is too much dull angst and not enough fangs in action. There is just a lot of build-ups but not much resolution. The hokey dialogue could be just too much to bear. And unless one can get past the sloppiness and shallowness, there is no way to get really sucked in.

As a fantasy romance involving a self-loathing vampire and his sweet-blooded human beloved, its theme works well with the rising and falling teenage hormonal requirements. And it’s more about focusing on the main pair Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan and Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen to let the movie mesmerize the fans. They work well as the “Twilight” couple playing around sidelong glances, twitchy rule-breaking escapades, and head-spinning rushes of the moment – which all focuses on their intangible yearning and romantic affection for each other. Their palpable chemistry is something that the fans can definitely succumb into. And this overcomes some overacting parts (both theirs and most of the other characters) as their on-screen romantic charm just does it all for the movie.

The story best utilizes its principal tandem with such brooding romanticism. Stewart as the introvert Bella is somebody most teens could relate to as an average type with some fairly likeable attributes, a glum expression, and a risky attitude. Pattinson as the 100-ish pale guy with overly red lips and living on a deer blood diet is totally a hit for giggling fans who are completely fascinated with his furrowed eyebrows, crooked smiles, and cool hairstyles.

The members of the supporting cast, though at times some look too superficial (in a negative way and more than just the vampire attitude), generally deliver for the movie’s intentions: Bella’s father and mother Billy Burke as Charlie Swan and Sarah Clarke as Renée Dwyer; the Cullen clan including Peter Facinelli as Dr. Carlisle Cullen, Ashley Greene as Alice Cullen, Elizabeth Reaser as Esme Cullen, Kellan Lutz as Emmet Cullen, Jackson Rathbone as Jasper Hale, and Nikki Reed as Rosalie Hale; the vampire antagonists including Cam Gigandet as James, Rachelle Lefevre as Victoria, and Edi Gathegi as Laurent; and Bella’s new school pals and family friends: Christian Serratos as Angela, Anna Kendrick as Jessica Stanley, Michael Welch as Mike Newton, Justin Chon as Eric Yorkie, Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black, Gil Birmingham as Billy Black.

“Twilight” knows what it is meant for. Either one likes it, or hates it. It has a sweetly idealistic charm of its own. It pleases its devoted fans, but does little for the uninitiated.


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