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Southtown Star – Twilight Review

November 27, 2008

source: Southtown Star

November 27, 2008

Upon seeing the trailers, “Twilight” first seemed to be Bram Stoker meets Judy Blume.

After seeing the film, I wouldn’t want to insult either author.

“Twilight” is more “Saved By The Bell” meets “The Lost Boys.” In other words, the movie is all appearance with no depth, no substance.

Author Stephenie Meyer has come up with yet another version of the vampire tale. And this adaptation is less a work of good storytelling than it is overt pandering to young teenage girls.

Meyer has admitted in interviews that she hasn’t studied traditional vampire lore much – and it shows.

Gone are the crucifix, holy water and garlic defenses against vampires. And I’m not revealing too much here.

Instead of burning it alive, sunlight makes the skin of vampires glisten like glitter. We’re told that vampires hide from direct sunlight so they don’t appear different.

But a human crosses into the vampire realm without having every fluid ounce of hemoglobin drained.

It’s Bella Swan, a young high school student sent to the Pacific Northwest from Phoenix, Ariz., to live with her dad, a small-town chief of police.

At school, she meets the Cullens, a rather pale-looking bunch of foster children. She finds Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) to be especially intriguing.

He is often aloof and rather rude, but it’s a front for his real feelings. Bella is rather attracted to Edward as well.

Soon after meeting, he becomes rather protective of Bella. It’s not only that Edward’s physically attracted but he also wants to feed.

Fortunately, Edward and his “family” are vampire “vegetarians,” ones who only feed on animals, not humans.

Yes, Meyer has created a more socially and environmentally conscious breed of vampires.

Why not throw in a castle run on methane gas and solar power and fill the bathroom closets with toilet paper made from recycled materials while we’re at it?

Bella doesn’t see it at first, but she senses something is different about Edward. And, with his dazzling displays of strength and speed, she begins to piece things together.

The two eventually fall in love. She learns who he is but isn’t afraid.

I understand some themes and characters need a little infusion of modern creativity. It’s done quite well for James Bond.

But “Twilight” lacks creativity and isn’t very smart.

There is no sense of history or background for these vampires, as if they just appeared out of the ether. There is only a vague explanation of some odd pact they had with Native Americans who allegedly descended from wolves.

It’s as if the movie was made solely as an excuse to parade a bunch of model-gorgeous actors on screen and story be damned. It felt as if I were watching another series on the CW.

Oh sure, this film will make a ton of money, as if the U.S. mall appearances – including a recent stop at Orland Square in Orland Park – by Pattinson weren’t indication enough.

And “Twilight” left itself open to at least one sequel.

But let’s not go confusing this flick with sound filmmaking. There are too many plot contradictions, too much inane dialogue and too much of a knack for stating the obvious.

J.K. Rowling has done well to create a series of novels for a younger niche audience with “Harry Potter.” Her work is creative, multifaceted, thoroughly conceptualized and intelligent.

Meyer’s work isn’t even a reasonable facsimile. It is rather void of skill, talent and creativity, thriving on good looks and a lame love story so it can prey on its own audience and suck its wallets dry.

Michael Drakulich is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association.

He can be reached at (708) 802-8841 or mdrakulich@southtownstar.com.

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