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twilight-bella-edwardTwilight, for the uninitiated, is Buffy’s worst nightmare. It is the first in an insanely popular series of books about seventeen-year-old Isabella “Bella” Swan who moves to Forks, Washington and finds her life in danger when she falls in love with ninety-year-old vampire Edward Cullen. The books are required reading for every sixteen year old girl on the planet and now those undead literary characters are coming to life on the big screen in what will undoubtedly be the weekend’s number one film. Vampires, despite Buffy’s best efforts, are hot again.

Twilight, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, stars Into the Wild’s Kristen Stewart as Bella, an average girl whose taste in men runs to the supernatural. She’s a sullen teenager sent to live with her father in rainy Washington state after her free spirited mother shutters their Arizona home to go on the road with her baseball player boyfriend. Life in the small town is sleepy until Bella meets Edward, a pale, otherworldly student who makes Casper the Friendly ghost look tanned. She’s immediately smitten, but he is aloof, friendly one moment, cold the next. “Your mood swings are giving me whiplash,” she says. Soon enough he reveals his true immortal self to her—he’s a vampire “vegetarian,” meaning that he doesn’t drink human blood—and the idea of getting close to a mortal, and her supply of blood, is a temptation he fights against. Rather than running away, afraid for her life, she is even more drawn to him. When a trio of nasty bloodsuckers moves into the area Edward must risk his undead life to protect Bella.

Twilight is review proof. Advance ticket sales have already surpassed the last two Harry Potter movies and guarantee theatre lobbies filled with screeching teenage girls and sold out auditoriums. It’ll be the number one movie of the weekend and not since The Dark Knight has anticipation run so deep. Lots of people have been sucked in by this vampire tale.

But is it a good movie?

I can best sum it up by paraphrasing an old beer advertising slogan. “Those who like it, will like it a lot.” Twilight is bound to please “twi-hards”—fans of the books. Robert Pattison, the unknown English actor hired to play heartthrob vampire Edward embodies the book’s romantic bloodsucker and Kristen Stewart does dreamy longing really well. Hardwicke, whose directorial career showcases her ability to portray teen angst in movies like Thirteen and The Lords of Dogtown, captures the cadences of high school life by surrounding her supernatural characters with average kids handing in natural performances. She’s distilled the 600 page book down to its basic elements, cut the fat—the most important component being the romance; that Edward goes against his natural instinct to kill because he loves Bella—and produced a romantic film that will appeal to the book’s enormous core audience.

For others, and that includes vampire purists—everyone knows that vampires can’t go out during the day and would never have a giant cross in their home—the movie may feel strangely stilted and well, anemic. Anyone expecting fangs, crazy vampire sex or even high tech visual effects will be disappointed. Twilight is about one thing and one thing only—romance. It’s a horror Harlequin, and while the constant starry-eyed craving between the two leads borders on caricature, without it there’d be very little left. 

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