You don’t know how long I’ve waited for you.
They share a smile. Then he reaches toward her neck, pausing...
Exercising great control, he places his hand on
her throat... it’s so exposed, so vulnerable. The rush
between them is overwhelming. But Bella doesn’t move.
And so the lion fell in love with the lamb.
What a stupid lamb.
Sick masochistic lion.

Twilight is the motion picture based on the first book of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight Saga. Four books, with a stunning and tragically interrupted fifth, which have sold tens of millions of copies in over 20 languages. And that's just in New Jersey. The readers are loyal and enthusiastic beyond those of the Harry Potter series. If you're looking for an unbiased, fact-based review of the series, too bad. Shameless plug. Since 2005, fans have like, totally pined for a big screen retelling of the story of Bella and Edward. On 21 November 2008, their wishes were granted.

Looking for a plot summary for Twilight? Just ask any 13 year-old girl.

What the books lack, the film provides amply--visuals. The cast--finally, we can finally put a face, a person, clearly onto the characters. Especially the leads, Bella and Edward, and the actors do not disappoint. Music--the score is spot-on. (The soundtrack apparently sold ridiculously well). Bella's Lullaby might have missed the mark, but overall, the music is an excellent fit. The scenery--especially the trees, the colors and textures that make up Forks are rich and thick with life. The contrasts against Bella's former home in Arizona are apparent everywhere. Desert is replaced with the abundant green forest and overgrowth. The Phoenix suburbs, saturated with heat and sunlight, are replaced with a cold, wet, tiny town of 3,100 and perpetually-overcast skies. And misty cloud banks that dip low to surround the mountain tops.

The Olympic Peninsula is alive and vibrant--every bit in contrast with a girl who longs to become the walking dead.

Catherine Hardwicke directs a cast that spans the full spectrum of talent, beauty and neurosis. Those familiar with any of the books will appreciate which performances, however brief, are really well done, including those by Kristen Stewart, Elizabeth Reaser, Nikki Reed--and the real scene stealer--Ashley Greene's portrayal of Alice. Greene's performance is flawless. Pattinson, (who performs and co-produced two of the soundtrack pieces), becomes Edward very well. Taylor Lautner is well-positioned to shine as Jacob Black in the next film, with considerably more screen time. As an obviously biased fan of the series, it's difficult to find any measurable fault with any of the performances. (Casting is another matter. Did Peter Facinelli win the lottery, or was he the stand-in for someone else, really anyone else, intended for the role of Carlisle?) There is one bone to pick--the author makes a cameo. Can you say campy? Stephen King must be spinning in his grave.

Give it time.

Melissa Rosenberg's screenplay is a respectable effort which brings the core plot and story elements to the silver screen, in a two hour, two minute runtime. Similar to any film adaptation, many elements found in the book are reduced, if not entirely absent. Perhaps most noticeably, the lead character's narration is severely limited. The bulk of the four books are written from Bella's perspective, and as such, the film seems to distance itself from her telling of what is really her story. While the film is enjoyable and can stand on its own, this is one of the attributes that gives the books their subtle, unique flavour.

The critics have been all over the radar with this one. (Mindless dogs--may they die in a thousand fires, slowly). In the beginning, Twilight had a fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However as time passed, the rating fell below sixty percent. Not for lack of support from its fan base, though. Even if ninety percent are adolescent girls. The mob-like, almost religious-fanaticism that permeates so many of the followers, due in no small part to Robert Pattinson, only aides to promote the film.

The obvious:

Yes, there are Vampires.

No, this isn't Oscar, or even Golden-Globe Material. Strictly MTV Movie Awards and some other award shows I don't watch, or know exist. Yes, you, Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards.

No, Twilight does not make excessive use of special effects.

Yes, mercifully, the stereotypical physical attributes of the vampires are dialed back considerably. Don't look for fangs, or claws, or bats, or stakes, etc. They're pale. They're attractive. That's Meyer's shtick.

No, you are not the target demographic.

Yes, it has a good soundtrack, even if you don't spend all of your free time wandering the Mall. (including Decode--one of two Paramore cuts)

No, it doesn't make 100% sense without some firsthand knowledge from the book(s). But then, what does, Office Space?

Yes, it's predictable, and fun, and better than most of the regurgitated, refried Hollywood rubbish being dragged into theaters, and dumped onto DVD & Blu-etc.

This film manages to stand on its own without the book. Viewers who have consumed the first volume are definitely rewarded. True, its target demographic...well, let's just say it's all about Robert Pattinson. And before I hint at too much disappointment at the core fan base demographic, it should be noted that the fan base is one of Twilight's great strengths. There's almost a Serenity/Firefly parallel here. (Almost). The fans connect with the characters, follow the series, flock to the film, and all the while are fiercely loyal. (Don't send emails, I said almost).

If the second film due out this November stays true to the book, New Moon, it will definitely warrant dropping everything and running to see. If it's possible for this genre, (Vampires, dammit! Not romance), the second film will be considerably darker. Think Empire Strikes Back.

Okay, slight exaggeration.

At the time this review is going to press, a sequel based on the second book, New Moon, is being filmed. My favorite character, Jacob, is going to shine in November--which can't arrive soon enough. Read or listen to the book first. Save the eye candy for later. Don't take my word for it. Ask the bubble-gum crowd.

4/5 - Read the book, then grab the DVD. The characters really are that endearing.

5/5: Drop everything and go see it today
4/5: Definitely worth seeing in theaters
3/5: Easily worth the price of the matinee
2/5: Last choice at Blockbuster
1/5: Keep your money, stay home & channel surf
0/5: Abyssal

Team Jacob

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