Stephanie Meyer’s best-selling tale of transspecies love hits the big screen

By: Susana Rodriguez / Staff Writer
What happens when 17-year-old Bella Swan moves to the small, rain soaked town of Forks, WA and falls for her preternaturally beautiful classmate, Edward Cullen? You get “Twilight,” a film adaptation that puts its literary source – author Stephenie Meyer’s story about a love that transcends class, age and respective positions in the food chain – to shame.

Having caught a sneak preview on Oct. 18, fans, known collectively as Twihards, won’t be disappointed to see their beloved characters on screen.

Leads Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson as the transpecies lovers breathe admirable depth and humanity into two of fiction’s most indigestible characters since J.D. Salinger’s Holden Caulfied and Sylvia Plath’s Esther Green.

As the everyday girl that wins the high school sweetheart lottery, Stewart transforms Meyer’s introverted Bella – who, in text, musters about as much warmth for anything that isn’t her teen Adonis as a sociopath does for a puppy litter – into an outspoken, self assured girl who trusts her gut and follows her heart.

It’s Pattinson, however, that steals the screen (and screams) as his reimagined Edward. Playing Forks High’s It-Boy as a self-loathing blood addict, and not as Meyer’s infallible and confident paramour, Pattinson delivers audiences a broken man who gets a second chance at adolescence and a first at love with Bella.

Other notable performances include Billy Burke’s tender interpretation of Chief Charlie Swann, Bella’s father, who reads as distant and disinterested in the novel but becomes a lonely father keen to reconnect with his estranged daughter in veteran hands, and Anna Kendrick’s deliciously detestable Jessica Stanley, Bella’s frenemy.

Director Catherine Hardwicke (“Thirteen” and “Lords of Dogtown”) worked with a $40 million budget showcased in clever trick shots designed to save money (watch for Edward revealing super speed abilities we only hear but can imagine from Bella’s reaction).

But the production’s thriftiness starts hurting eyes when the camera pans over some characters, like Taylor Lautner’s Jacob Black and Cam Gigandet’s vampire villain James, had to endure.

Twihards may even find themselves cringing at the grainy, video booth quality special effects subjected upon Bella and Edward’s piggy back jaunts through the forest.

Also, Stewart and Pattinson, while both deserving medals for delivering some of cinema’s teeth rottenly gooey lines in earnest, get carried away despite their good efforts.

Stewart’s reliance on acting with her eyes fails her when her furious blinking resembles an epileptic seizure, while Pattinson’s character devotion reduces Edward’s fury into emo hissy fits that would make toddlers blush.

The nail in the coffin? Edward’s climatic reveal in the meadow, where he shows Bella why he can’t go out into the sun, is underwhelming (although hilarious).

But with a plot that kicks off in the first ten minutes (not in the last quarter, Meyer), Twilight is, overall, a fun teen melodrama. In fact, it’s almost too melodramatic, which may turn off more discerning movie goers to the series entirely.

Hardwicke and her crew are hopeful you’ll stick around. At least that’s what the closing shot said.

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