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Movie Review by Springfield Business Journal

November 26, 2008

source:  Springfield Business Journal

Movie Review: ‘Twilight’ not a hit for average moviegoers
by Jim Wunderle – Contributing Writer

Finally, there’s a vampire movie aimed firmly at fans of The Jonas Brothers. Clearly, the demographic for “Twilight” is pubescent girls, and my guess is that many of them have probably already seen the film multiple times. That’s the only possible explanation as to how it took over the top box office spot in its debut weekend. For the rest of us, “Twilight” is vampire-lite – a film without fangs, if you will.

2008 has been a banner year for vampires as neck-biting heartthrobs. First came HBO’s “True Blood,” based on the series of books by Charlaine Harris. Now comes “Twilight,” which is based on the multi-volume series “The Twilight Saga” by Stephenie Meyer. “True Blood” and “Twilight” can be termed “Vampire chick flicks.” The HBO series puts more bite into its plot, while “Twilight” comes off as a Harlequin romance with fangs. New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis aptly describes the film as a “vampire romance for the hot-not-to-trot abstinence set,” and indeed, there is sexual desire throughout the movie but absolutely no sex. The closest thing to it occurs when the leading couple goes for a stroll through the treetops.

“Look but don’t bite” is the self-imposed rule for vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). But if the main female character, Bella (Kristen Stewart), had her way, she’d gladly give up her neck (and one supposes something more) and join Ed among the undead.

Edward lives with his “family” (all vampires, so they are somehow related by blood) in the little town of Forks, Wash. It’s a good place for vampires as it’s overcast 99.9 percent of the time. (Meyer has rewritten the established rules for vampires. The ones in her books can survive daylight, stakes through the heart and silver bullets.)

Bella has moved from her Phoenix home, where she lived with her mom and stepdad, to live with her father, the Forks sheriff. She makes the transition to her new high school with as much ease as possible; changing schools is always traumatic and especially so for high school girls. One of the stereotypical cliques at Forks High is comprised of “goths.” Usually goths are kids who dress in black, wear pale makeup and listen to bands like The Cure, Joy Division and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. But these goths are different. They are actually vampires. Unlike in “True Blood,” where the vampires have “come out,” no one knows these kids are the real thing.

Bella is attracted to Edward. Pattinson strives to give Edward a James Dean, “Rebel Without a Cause” vibe, but he’s not quite enough of an actor to pull that off.

When things start to heat up between Bella and Edward, the boy fesses up to his true identity and tells Bella she must stay away from him. In an explanation that will boggle the mind for years to come, Edward explains that his family consists of vampire vegetarians, inasmuch as they only suck blood from animals. As a 32-year vegetarian myself, I hardly realized that was an option.

But not all of the vampires around Forks are as benign as Edward’s tribe. Three vampire outsiders are traveling through Forks, and one particularly unpleasant one takes a liking to Bella’s scent. In “Twilight,” the vampires are overwhelmed with desire when catching the scent of a desirable human, and Bella apparently smells delicious.

Edward is forced into the role of Bella’s protector and he battles the outsider in a gruesome scene.

Needless to say – and obvious by the great number of ancillary characters that are introduced for no reason, it seems – production is no doubt already under way for the second installment of what will surely become a franchise.

Young girls everywhere are delighted, no doubt. The rest of the movie-going public can just breathe a heavy sigh. But a $71 million opening weekend screams to the film studio: sequels!

Jim Wunderle owns Wunderle Sound Services and is a Springfield freelance writer and musician. He can be reached at info@wunderlesound.com.

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