I’m going to open this review by saying something clear about my thoughts regarding Twilight. It is not as bad as a lot of people say it is. That’s not to say that it is anywhere close to being great, but it isn’t terrible. Not by a long shot. A lot of people seem to hate it despite never seeing it, or for reasons that don’t make a whole lot of sense, and I’m here to say that it isn’t that bad.
Of course, I’m sure this will draw the ire of people who do hate it with a passion, and I’m okay with that. If people are that certain that Twilight is absolutely awful, then I won’t change their mind anyway. People dead-set in their opinion on something aren’t going to change regardless of the information they are presented with. Fine, whatever, this review isn’t target at them anyway.
If you aren’t aware, the Twilight series is easily one of the biggest franchises in recent memory. Targeted at teenage girls, mostly, Stephanie Meyer’s series has become a worldwide phenomenon. It has also drawn the attention of many people not in its target audience, who dismiss it as just about what it is: a shallow book with shallow characters not doing anything all that important. That’s fine as well, because these people aren’t in the series’ target audience.
In order to understand the appeal of Twilight, you do need to be in the age group that Meyer is targeting, or at least be able to understand that group. I’m not going to claim that I can do this well, but I can sort of see where Twilight‘s fans are coming from. The story and characters aren’t particularly interesting to me, but others, I’ve been told, find it fascinating.
The story of Twilight, (the film, and presumably the book as well), centers on Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), who has just moved to the town of Forks, Washington to live with her father. Bella, seemingly the palest girl to live in Arizona, is giving her mother and stepfather a chance to travel. Her relationship with her father hasn’t been great, with Bella not seeing him for a couple of years. He’s happy to have her though, even buying her a used truck as a “homecoming present”.
Bella still has to go to school, and after exchanging glances with Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), she becomes fixated on him. He also seems love-struck, but there is something different about him. He’s dark and mysterious, and apparently “no girl is good enough for him”. Apparently Bella is.
But Edward stays away from Bella, at first anyway. He tells her it would be best if they weren’t friends, but Bella doesn’t buy that. Shortly after, Bella is almost hit by a car, saved at the last second by Edward, who jumped in front of the potential impact zone, stopping the car with one hand. “I had an adrenaline rush. It’s very common. You can Google it.” Right, Edward. Like Bella’s going to believe that.
She doesn’t of course, and after doing research, she concludes something that the audience already knows: Edward is a vampire. So that’s why he didn’t want to be close to her! Edward’s family is different though, only hunting animals for the blood they need to live. He apparently really wants Bella’s blood though, describing it as his own “personal heroin”.
“Where does the tension come from?” is a question you might ask at this point. Well, there are “bad” vampires as well, who are shown early on killing humans at intermittent points in the plot. They eventually find out that Edward and Bella are friends, and decide it would be good fun to hunt Bella. This happens for the last half-hour or so of the film, and is the only time when there is an actual threat in the story.
For the first hour and a half, all we get is the film setting up the setting and characters. Some of the scenes are completely unnecessary, and it would have been nice for them to be cut. The film does feel boring in some places, especially when nothing much is going on. The relationship between Bella and her father is kind of interesting, but it doesn’t get developed much. We mostly just get Bella and Edward talking, stalking or sulking.
No, Twilight doesn’t pride itself on having an amazing plot, filled with twists. Its strength, if you can call it that, is the way that its characters do develop throughout the story. Bella starts off as a shut-in character, one that is fearful of the scary world around her. (Despite the fact that Forks only has about 3,000 people). Edward begins the film as a gloomy person as well, but does open up once he gets the chance to interact openly with Bella.
One of the main criticisms I’ve heard about Twilight is the fact that the vampires within it sparkle in the sunlight, instead of the traditional “burning up”. While this does seem odd at first, I must question why this is a real criticism. Vampires don’t exist, we made them up. Why is there one set of rules that all vampires must adhere to? If Meyer wants to change up what the word “vampire” means, why shouldn’t she be able to do this? The series sticks to its own rules, and in its universe, vampires sparkle. If some vampires burned, while others sparkled, then I’d have a problem with it. Luckily, this isn’t the case.
The best criticism that you can have about the film is in its acting. Stewart and Pattison don’t have any chemistry together, and each actor gives an emotionally flat performance. The supporting cast isn’t quite as bad, but they don’t get enough screen time to develop their personalities. I’ve heard one character in particular, Jacob (Taylor Lautner), ends up becoming part of the principal cast in the remaining installments. Maybe it would have been a good idea to use him more often in this one.
Look, Twilight, the first film anyway, isn’t worth hating. Yes, the acting was bad, and the story wasn’t all that entertaining, but the film as a whole wasn’t terrible. The characters develop, and the final act was actually exciting. It’ll definitely please fans of the novel, and in the end, that is all it needs to do. Sometimes a film has a specific target audience, and that’s all it is trying to please. Twilight is one of those movies, and does its job admirably.