Twilight Catherine Hardwicke

Twilight Catherine Hardwicke
Millions of teenagers, and plenty of adults, have salivated over copies of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series (who knew?). This inevitable adaptation falls into a little serviced genre: the teenage vampire film. Admittedly, it’s hard to best two Coreys, a well-placed Doors song and a menacing Kiefer Sutherland (see The Lost Boys), and Twilight doesn’t even come close.

The film starts with a familiar template: a good looking though slightly quirky girl (Into the Wild’s Kristen Stewart) moves to a new town and falls for a misunderstood but pretty boy (Robert Pattinson). The twist comes in the form of the boy’s immortality and occasional desire to suck the girl’s blood. This complicates things, though not unworkably.

As perennial teen heartthrob Edward, Pattinson does his best Jim Stark impression (with a dash of early Bowie androgyny thrown in for fun). Aside from batting his eyes, brooding and intermittently stalking, the role doesn’t call for much. More disappointing, Stewart’s Bella hints at complexity before turning into an inexplicably devoted automaton.

Though a geriatric, perpetual high school student, Edward has yet to master social graces and his awkward first encounters with Bella — is that a Lugosi reference? — reek of falseness, and a hint of paedophilia. Since their romance centres the film, this doesn’t bode well.

Plodding and lifeless, the plot drags its feet, relying on its beautiful cast and pretty scenery to compensate for its listlessness. That works for a bit but slipshod editing and incongruent framing undermine the vistas.

Characters abound, including knowing natives, a clan of altruistic vampires, various parental figures (Billy Burke stands out as Bella’s father) and the nice popular crowd, but none get fleshed out. Two-dimensional villain James (Cam Gigandet) shows up too late to make an impact and the thread’s brevity makes it pointless. Furthermore, James’s strange obsession with eating Bella — surely there’s a better meal than a thin teenaged girl — lacks tenable motivation.

Employing gratuitous flashbacks, obvious dialogue (we get it, he’s a vampire) and forced metaphors (romantic murmurings in biology class), Twilight spoon-feeds the audience condescendingly (and insults vegetarians for good measure). At least The Lost Boys had Alex Winter. (E1)