Combustible Celluloid
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With: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, Ashley Greene, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Kellan Lutz, Peter Facinelli, Cam Gigandet, Taylor Lautner, Anna Kendrick, Michael Welch, Justin Chon, Christian Serratos, Gil Birmingham, Elizabeth Reaser, Edi Gathegi, Rachelle Lefevre, Sarah Clarke, Ned Bellamy, Gregory Tyree Boyce, Matt Bushell, Jos Ziga
Written by: Melissa Rosenberg, based on a novel by Stephenie Meyer
Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence and a scene of sensuality
Running Time: 122
Date: 11/17/2008

Twilight (2008)

3 Stars (out of 4)

White Fangs

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Based on the wildly popular "young adult" novel by Stephenie Meyer, Twilight is a vampire film without any horror and a romance with the type of unbridled, unchecked passion that only teenagers can conjure up.

Kristen Stewart stars as "Bella," who leaves her re-married mother and the warmth of Arizona to live with her single dad (Billy Burke), a small town police chief with a moustache and a lack of conversational skills. She arrives in school in the middle of the semester and meets the usual gang of teen weirdos, but is fascinated by one Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), with his dark eyes and pale skin.

While the other teens babble, he broods and glares from under his mop of James Dean hair, and girls everywhere swoon. ("What if I'm not the good guy?" he asks at one point. "What if I'm the bad guy?" Then you double your box office take.)

Of course, Edward is a vampire, though it takes Bella the film's first hour to discover that for herself. Edward and his family are able to live comfortably in the gray, Pacific Northwestern weather, but they must skip school on bright sunny days. Moreover, they eat only animals and have learned to curb their appetites. Unfortunately, some bad vampires learn about Bella and uproot her life.

The film brings up an interesting subplot, presumably to be further explored in sequels: a local Indian tribe is apparently the sworn enemy of the vampires. One of Bella's childhood friends, Jacob (Taylor Lautner), glares when he sees Edward around.

Director Catherine Hardwicke, whose Thirteen (2003), seemed to understand the peculiar, alien thought processes of teenage girls, somehow turns in a 122-minute film that moves briskly. She makes lovely use of weather and atmosphere; you can almost smell the crisp woods.

The movie has some throwaway moments, mainly special-effects related, such as a vampiric baseball game, but many other moments ring true. The adults, especially come across as intelligent and caring, rather than the usual buffoons we see in teen films.

But though the film lacks the humor of, say, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" as well as the sheer adrenaline of something like Near Dark (1987), it has a definite appeal of its own.

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