Film Flashback: Twilight (2008)

Deana Newcomb/Summit Entertainment
ROBERT PATTINSON (left) and KRISTEN STEWART (right) star in the thriller “TWILIGHT,” a Summit Entertainment release.

Fully realizing I risk credibility and docking of several points on my man card, I’m fine saying I’ve enjoyed the “Twilight” film franchise. It’s not as deep as the Harry Potter films, but the filmmakers have done an excellent job of not dumbing down Stephenie Meyer’s novels. This FF looks at the film that started the phenomenon that sparked careers and brought the vampire craze to a new generation. 

It’s so annoying coming in late to the hot new fad, but assuming I’m not the absolute last one to know anything about “Twilight,” the mega-popular novels about vampires living among society, I can assure you that the movie is worth finding a seat on the “Twilight” bandwagon.

Still, for a film about vampires there’s a decided lack of blood so any hardcore horror fans are likely to be disappointed with so few vampire neck nuzzling. [2012 FF: Or you could just watch “True Blood”…]

Deana Newcomb/Summit Entertainment
[From left] Bella (Kristen Stewart) and her father (Billy Burke) reconnect with Billy Black (Gil Birmingham) and Jacob (Taylor Lautner).

After leaving her mother and stepfather in sunny Phoenix, high school junior Bella (Kristen Stewart, “Jumper”) returns to live with her father in wet, gloomy Seattle. [2012 FF: I still found it jolting to see “24” villains Sarah Clarke and Billy Burke as the loving parents here and keep waiting on them to do something crazy.]

Director Catherine Hardwicke  makes great use of the locale taking full advantage of the backdrop with the overcast skies and stormy weather to aid the darker storyline. Thankfully steering away from the cliché subplot of the newcomer being harassed and not fitting it with anyone, Bella finds herself warmly greeted by her new classmates and makes fast friends, including nice guy Jacob (Taylor Lautner). But in true teen girl fashion, she is instantly attracted to the school “bad boy,” her lab partner Edward Cullen, (Robert Pattinson, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”) [2012 FF: Safe to say no one will ever refer to him as the guy from Harry Potter ever again…]who doesn’t seem to want anything to do with her.

Deana Newcomb/Summit Entertainment
Jackson Rathbone, Ashley Greene, Kellan Lutz, Nikki Reed and Robert Pattinson star in the thriller TWILIGHT, a Summit Entertainment release.

Edward and his strangely affectionate four siblings are the mysterious students who stick to themselves. And what’s the deal with their oddly pale skin and no one ever seeing them during the rare sunny days? Hardwicke has a very playful style of directing and assumes the audience is in on the fact that Edward is a vampire long before he reveals the truth to Bella. Hardwicke swings the camera back and forth as the actors talk bringing a real conversational feel to the film. Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg has a solid feel for teen dialogue without being the obnoxious adult trying to write cool teens.

Stewart and Pattinson give passionate performances as teens who think their entire lives won’t mean anything if they can’t be with each other and it helps draw you into the story that they’re so believable. [2012 FF: No doubt helped by the fact their was an off-camera attraction too]

Deana Newcomb/Summit Entertainment
Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) enjoy a light moment.

There’s an unmistakable “Romeo and Juliet” star-crossed lovers vibe here as the two ignore logic and give in to their taboo romance. A trio of evil vampires — who kill for sport — keep the story interesting with their ever looming threat and the final act is surprisingly effective for a “teen movie.” “Twilight” looks like something straight from the CW factory [2012 FF: Yeah, like “The Vampire Diaries..”] and yes, it’s strongly geared to the teen audience, but don’t hold it against the filmmakers and go in with any preconceived notions and you’ll find it a fun opening chapter of a new franchise.

2012 Film Flashback Rating: 6.5 out of 10