Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Review: Twilight

In general, I'm a big vampire fan. Not the scary, Nosferatu-type vampire. The sexy, Angel-Spike-type vampire. Face it - a vampire is the ultimate bad boy. A mortal peril to both your heart and your aorta.

So, when a friend recommended Stephenie Meyer's book, Twilight, I was intrigued. It had the seemingly winning combination of vampires and romance. I picked up a copy - and couldn't put it down. I found it so compelling - the story, the characters. The female protagonist, Bella Swan, appeals to every current and former angsty-teenager. And the male protagonist, the vampire Edward Cullen, well, he's swoon-worthy. I quickly ran through all four books in the series - although I found them less compelling as they progressed, and the final book dragged dreadfully in the middle.

I was quite anxious to see the film adaptation, which opened this past weekend. My buddies and I held out until Monday. The public schools are still in session, so we figured it would be a good opportunity to see it without hoards of screaming teenage girls. And since there were only a total of 5 people for the matinee - well, it was a smart choice.

Having loved the books, I worried how the adaptation would be. I shouldn't have fretted. It's a very faithful adaptation, and the screenwriter has incorporated much of the book's dialogue. For those who've been living without People or ET, here's the basic story. Bella goes to live with her father in the small town of Forks, Washington, after her mother remarries. She feels lost and lonely at first, until she spots the mysterious Cullen family in the school cafeteria. She is particularly taken with Edward, who seems totally repulsed by her. Well, it turns out they are a family of "vegetarian" vampires - forgoing humans and feeding instead on the wild animals in the Washington countryside. Of course, Bella and Edward fall in love - the ultimate forbidden love. Sigh.

I thought the film was very well cast. They were quite faithful to the books' descriptions and characterizations - although Edward wasn't as hot as I had pictured him! The Washington countryside is beautiful, breathtaking even, and the director really captured the dark murky atmosphere of the book. My one complaint is the same I have with the books - the love we see is all angst and sadness (I'd die without you...) - you don't see much of a joyful love, which is sad.

I'm not sure if reading the books is a prerequisite for enjoying the film. I was glad for some of the backstory that would have made the film ten hours long! But I also could pick up on some foreshadowing of what will happen in the next films. Because, yes, this will be a film franchise. The opening weekend box office was over $70 million - the largest film opening by a female director.

So, if you like this genre, if you like a romantic tale, go see Twilight. And if you want to sound hip to pop culture and the latest manias, see it also!

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