While better than what is shown in the previews, was this really supposed to look like the pilot for an upcoming show on The CW network?
After Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) moves from Phoenix, Arizona to the misty town of Forks, Washington, she reluctantly becomes the flavor of the month as the new student in school. Not usually one for the public spotlight, she also catches the eye of the uncatchable: Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), one of the five Cullen children in school and reportedly unable to find anyone “good enough” for him to date. In a surprise to everyone except the audience, an instant attraction forms between Bella and Edward, a relationship that could become a danger to both the couple and their families. It isn’t until Bella accidentally meets James (Cam Gigandet) that those dangers become a reality, and the first test of Bella and Edward’s forbidden love may be their last.
Based on the book series by Stephenie Meyer, it’s no secret that this is a vampire love story for the ‘tween set. Combining both elements of gothic horror with high school drama, the film comes off like the next “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” but without the slayer and more soap opera elements than an actual body count. Still, there’s something interesting about the concept, especially when compared to HBO’s “True Blood” series based on the “Southern Vampires” books. Working against the seriousness, however, are scenes that include a preppy vampire family making dinner for their human guest; with almost too many characters for an actual film, maybe someone should have considered this for a television series from the beginning rather than a feature film franchise.
Like most “teens in trouble” vampire flicks, most notably The Lost Boys, the parents seem to remain happily clueless as do all the uninformed characters, so the drama is mostly carried by the main characters. In spite of rather cheesy and cliche advertising posters and trailers, Kristen Stewart’s portrayal of Bella with Robert Pattinson’s of Edward manage to keep us interested even during the most ridiculous moments of the story. Edward’s hair and eyebrows should almost have their own character credit, but Pattinson’s portrayal of Edward’s tangible fascination in Bella could make wearing a puffy pirate shirt forgivable.
Another bit that disappoints are the moments of potential physical contact dissolving into incoherent conversations that the audience isn’t privy to. While a suggestion of abstinence toward the target audience may not be a bad thing, watching the main characters having an enriching conversation montage rather than actually hearing it is a pretty cheap device. For fans of the vampire genre who are older than twenty-five, some of the scenes will certainly appear tame (as well as the ending far too long), but as the two-hundredth-plus revision of vampire legend, there are enough clever revelations to at least warrant a viewing.
(a two and a half skull recommendation out of four)