Time: 122 mins.
SYNOPSIS: Quiet high-schooler Bella moves to a new town and finds herself drawn to a pale and mysterious classmate, who turns out to be a vampire. Instead of being frightened she falls madly in love with him and vice versa, which places her life in jeopardy when an outside vampire clan comes to town and discovers their relationship.
BOTTOM LINE: While I'm sure the novels and films would have been right up my alley about 25 years ago, I'm hard pressed to find the attraction of this series after watching this film. I sort of get the sexy vampire thing since I was all over Anne Rice's Vampire Series in my early twenties, but at least those books had some history and depth to them, more of a story than misfit girl meets dangerous boy and trouble ensues. Granted their troubles are somewhat out of the norm for most teens since he's actually an almost 100-year-old vampire, but I can't say I was overwhelmingly enthralled with their story. Perhaps I have too much life experience now to truly buy into such a tortured tale of true love or that I'm just tired of the whole vampire thing.
Since they're written for young girls, I'm sure the film wasn't really missing much in the way of backstory or plot, which was a bit too simplistic for me. I have a feeling what you see is what you get; however, the look and feel of the film, it's gloomy quietness and deliberate pace go a long way to setting the proper mood for the doomed romance. Stewart and Pattison actually have really good chemistry, though I can honestly say he didn't really light my fire as a leading man. I need a little more meat on the bones so to speak. While the makeup made him look like a vampire, he never really delivered the true sense of menace necessary to convince me Edward was ever a blood-sucking killer, which is sort of necessary for the final third of the film to really work where he is forced to protect Bella from another set of vampires who aren't vegetarians. He plays tortured and romantic very well, but if I were Bella I'd have been glad he had a big family around to help.
You can't help but like Bella &ndash Stewart is pitch perfect – yet her nonchalance about the whole undead thing is a bit hard to swallow. She just treats it like one of the usual romantic barriers to young love like race, religion or class. I get that he's very cute and all, however a little fear on her part would have gone a long way. Instead, she only gets more interested in him when he tells her the smell of her blood is like heroin to him and loves that he watches her when she's sleeping. Apparently, vampires don't need to sleep, can't eat and are super fast. Just what you want in your stalker. It's also grossly ridiculous that his "family" would allow him to date her. I get that he's lonely and perhaps tired of his choices amongst the undead, but unless he brings her over to the dark side, their relationship is going to bring nothing but trouble and heartache. I guess that's where the sequels come in.
The film delivers a great villian in Cam Gigandet as James, a vampire who will stop at nothing to drink Bella's super sweet blood...mostly for his own pleasure but also just to destroy Edward's. As action sequences go, it's pretty exciting and scary with Gigandet delivering exactly what you expect from a bad-ass blood-sucker – pure, unadulterated violence and terror. It goes without saying that Edward saves the day, yet he's not exactly the hero Bella thought he was. Her near death brings them closer and also gives her a deeper understanding of the stakes involved...not all of them pretty. The story didn't intrigue me enough to compell me to read the sequels, but I will probably watch them when they come to DVD. It's better than most mindless drivel directed at young women. While TWILIGHT delivers great style and well-produced effects, it's made by women for woman, so men need not apply. There's nothing here for you.