Thursday, December 18, 2008

Movie Review: Twilight

Released: 2008

Go to IMDb page

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I was pleasantly surprised by Twilight — the dark, sensual vampire romance based on Stephenie Meyer's book of the same name. The movie is clearly targeted at older teens but it deals with deep moral issues that will hopefully be discussed by these teens.

Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) moves to Forks, Washington to live with her father, Charlie. At school in her science class, she finds herself buddied with Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) a mysterious boy to whom she is strangely attracted. As she gets to know him, she discovers that Edward is a 180 year old vampire. Edward is deeply attracted to Bella - physically and emotionally. The smell of her human blood is almost overwhelming. But Edward's father has taught his vampire children that to kill humans for food is immoral and they have lived on animals hunted in the nearby woods.

Edward knows that, if he gives in to his sexual desire for Bella, his vampire instincts will take over and he will kill her to drink her blood. So he decides to resist and, although their friendship deepens, there is a constant temptation beneath the surface that each must resist.

Complicating all this is the arrival of a band of renegade vampires who put Bella's life in danger. Edward's family rally around her to try to protect her. Will they be able to save her? And will Edward succumb to temptation?

I really enjoyed Twilight. The fresh approach to the vampire tradition is engaging. Stewart and Pattinson both inhabit their roles well and, apart from one overacted scene from Stewart and a shaky start from Pattinson, are great. The tinges of horror keep the suspense going at the right times. The sexual tension is taut and well handled. It is a rare narrative that makes self-discipline and restraint the dominant plot device! And the photography is beautiful as Edward transports his love interest above the tree tops and then down into the forests.

The two lead roles are obviously attractive if the teenage audience in the cinema was anything to go by — particularly when Edward first appears on the scene. A cheer ascended the moment he walked into view.

Stephenie Meyer is a Mormon who earned her degree in literature at Brigham Young University. She has stated that she wrote the Twilight book following a dream she had of a vampire who fell in love  with a girl but also thirsted for her blood. On the front cover of the Twilight book there is a red apple held in two hands. Inside the book there is a biblical reference to the tree of knowledge of good and evil found in the opening chapters  of the Genesis. Here is what Meyer says about the apple symbolism:

The apple on the cover of Twilight represents "forbidden fruit." I used the scripture from Genesis (located just after the table of contents) because I loved the phrase "the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil." Isn't this exactly what Bella ends up with? A working knowledge of what good is, and what evil is. The nice thing about the apple is it has so many symbolic roots. You've got the apple in Snow White, one bite and you're frozen forever in a state of not-quite-death... Then you have Paris and the golden apple in Greek mythology—look how much trouble that started. Apples are quite the versatile fruit. In the end, I love the beautiful simplicity of the picture. To me it says: choice.

Choice — that does indeed summarise the theme of Twilight. It's a good yarn and there's lots of thinking to be done about the theme of choice — not only in the movie but in our own lives as well.

My Rating: **** (out of 5)

Positive Review
'A sometimes girlie swirl of obsession that will delight fans, this faithful adaptation is after teenage blood, and will most likely hit a box office artery.' - Will Lawrence/Empire

Negative Review
'I've had mosquito bites that were more passionate than this undead, unrequited, and altogether unfun pseudo-romantic riff on Romeo and Juliet.' - Marc Savlov/Austin Chronicle

USA: PG-13

Content Advice
some violence and a scene of sensuality

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1 comment:

  1. seems likely that they will come out with a Twilight sequel pretty soon, there's a crazy lot of ticket sales at stake