Review by Mike Finkelstein
Bella is the new girl in town. Having once lived in the quiet suburb of Forks, Washington, she's moved back to live with her father, the Forks Chief of Police (Billy Burke). Although awkward at first, Bella quickly settles in with a new set of friends (among them, for some reason, Anna Kendrick as Jessica, leaving us wondering what sins the actress committed to end up in this movie), finding a new life for herself in the town she barely remembers.
Soon, though, her whole life is turned upside down when she meets, and quickly falls for, a strange boy, Edward Cullen. The attraction between them is immediate (and mostly spoken of, since the chemistry between the leads is beyond lackluster), but every time Bella tries to get close Edward pulls away. He has a dark secret, one he cannot share, and when she finally figures out what he's been hiding (spoiler: he's a vampire... sort of), she'll be sucked into a whole world she barely even realized existed.
There are probably two kinds of people that will willingly sit down to watch a Twilight flick: fans of the series of books -- who will probably love everything about this movie -- and those with a morbid sense of curiosity fueled by a desire to see really shitty movies (the later camp includes this writer). Having heard that the movies were pretty terrible despite making gobs of money, I had to see just how bad they were and if there was anything at all redeeming about the first flick in the series.
To put it bluntly: there is very little redeeming about this movie at all. Let's start with the lead actors and their performances. Having not read the books (and if I have anything to say about it I never will) I don't know if Stewart and Pattinson do good jobs representing the lead characters from the books, but if they do then Bella is beyond boring, Edward is stalkery-verging on-abusive, and I have to wonder why anyone would like either of them. Kristen Stewart (who has proven she can act in such movies as Adventureland and American Ultra) seems completely bored in this role, playing Bella as an inactive participant in her own life. That's still better than Pat\tinson as Edward, though, who plays his role as nearly malicious, giving every scene he's in an utterly creepy vibe. These two are supposed to be in love, but at times it seems more like Bella is simply a brainless sponge under his mind-control.
Although, seriously, that would have been a much more interesting plot -- sad girl made brainless and hollowed out by a evil vampire living in town -- than what we actually got. Instead we have to try to ignore the complexities of a 17-year-old girl falling for a multi-hundreds of year old dude who pretends to be a high school student so he can pick up chicks. For anyone not already in love with the characters (book lovers, basically) the relationship between the two characters makes less and less sense as the minutes tick by.
And since this is a love story, not a horror film (which, again, a sad girl made brainless by an evil vampire would make for a great horror flick), the love between the young girl and creepy older dude is the whole plot of the movie. After barely resisting bring her into his world, Edward relents and shows Bella who he really is: a sparkly vampire (which... sparkly? really? okay...). She's then introduced to his family (where they all basically act like Bella and Edward are engaged despite them knowing he other for about two weeks). Then there's softball.
It's hard to knock the film for including the softball scene. From what I understand this sequence -- vampires playing softball -- is actually in the book, and I will admit it was the first time the movie showed much in the way of life. It's just hard to take sparkly stalker vampires seriously when they're playing baseball. It doesn't help that the mediocre villains of the movie are introduced during the softball sequence, nor that the whole "climax" of the movie (such as it is) happens a few brief scenes later. It's like the story introduced vampires but was actually disgusted by everything that made vampires into vampires, so instead the solution was glitter and softball and quickly sweeping the icky bits under the rug.
To put it bluntly, I don't know how anyone can like this movie. Sure, it's easy to rail against it (for all the reasons I've already dictated), but there's a fervent group of people that really love this flick (and the whole saga that came after), and I just have to wonder why? There are better versions of the girl-meets-boy with a secret (hell, the first couple of seasons of The Vampire Diaries handle the same kind of material to much better effect) so what makes this movie so special?
I have a feeling that you have to be a fan to be a fan. For the rest of this, don't watch this movie. While there are a few short sequences that are interesting (softball being the highlight, as dumb as that is), there's very little about this movie to recommend it. That said, if you're anything like this reviewer, hearing that will only make you want to see it even more just to sate your own morbid curiosity.