Thursday, September 24, 2009

Twilight Sparks But Doesn't Ignite

The human bares her tempting throat to the vampire, who lowers his mouth to her neck, his teeth moving ever closer to her pulsing jugular. As he approaches her soft flesh the tension mounts, but the fanged vamp just kisses her throat and pulls back. He won’t turn her tonight.

This is Twilight, a piece of tantalizing fiction from author Stephenie Meyer, brought to the big screen at the request of millions of desperate fans. The hero of this film literally sparkles, has ‘smoldering” eyes that change color, and says things like, “I hate you for making me want you so much.” Edward Cullen, Meyer’s vampire hero hasn’t necessarily captured the imaginations so much as he has invaded the fantasies of every preteen girl on the planet, who, at the mere mention of his name, sigh and whisper “Oh Edward.”

Twilight stars the lovely Kristen Stewart as Bella Swann, who has just moved to constantly overcast Forks, Washington. When Bella starts school she immediately takes notice of the impossibly beautiful, very mysterious Edward Cullen (played by Robert Pattinson), and soon discovers that Ed isn’t your average high school teen. He’s an immortal vampire. Of course she falls for the vamp, and they decide they can’t fight their love. Unfortunately, their love is punctuated by constant reminders that Edward is a guy who is constantly fighting the urge to sink his fangs into his girlfriend’s neck and suck her blood. When a vampire who hunts humans for sport starts hunting Bella, Edward fears he may not be able to protect her.

Although Twilight the book was an interesting read, the movie is what you’d call boring. Most of the film consists of Bella and Edward staring deep into one another’s eyes, frolicking in the forest, and playing vampire baseball with the Cullen clan while the audience waits for some kind of plot development. In addition to the glacially-slow-moving plot, I should mention the poor casting and poor direction of the four unfortunate actors playing Ed Cullen’s siblings, Jasper in particular. Either Jackson Rathbone (the actor playing Jasper) is a terrible actor, or he was appallingly directed, because throughout the film he appears on the verge of vomiting a small animal at any moment.

Despite its flaws the film isn’t half bad. In fact, the chemistry between Pattinson and Stewart as star-crossed lovers is so raw it’s dripping with the blood and guts of great acting. The couple may be the next Fred and Ginger, the next Depp and Burton, the next long-term cinematic partnership that could have great results.

Pattinson, who portrayed Hogwart’s golden boy, Cedric Diggory, in the last two Harry Potter films, is a rising star in Hollywood. With acting ability far exceeding that of his peers, the Twilight series may be able to catapult Pattinson to the fame and acclaim he deserves. As for Stewart, she starred with Meg Ryan and Adam Brody in In the Land of Women, and worked with Emile Hirsch in Into the Wild, films most people have never heard of, but were critically acclaimed for the actors’ performances. These two kids are packed with charm and charisma, good looks, and serious talent.

Twilight is going to provide both Steward and Pattinson the change to cement their status as gifted actors. Twilight itself may not be a particularly fantastic movie, but its stars are. Even though the story might be a bit dull at times the two lovers make it interesting. It’s the moments between the two main characters that make up for the otherwise egregious casting and the slow plot. Let’s hope that with Stewart and Pattinson at the helm, Bella and Edward turn out to be the next powerhouse couple of cinema.


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