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Friday, December 26, 2008


Not a bad film but nothing Oscar-worthy. (Review by Billy Suter, courtesy of The Mercury)

Three years ago he was known only as a small-part player in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, in which he played senior student Cedric Diggory.

These days, however, 22-year-old Brit Robert Pattinson is hot property, having been named as Yahoo’s top movie heart-throb of 2008, Rolling Stone magazine’s hottest actor of 2008 and the hunk of the year by Entertainment Tonight. He has also been named as one of the Breakout Stars of 2008 by both the Los Angeles Times and Forbes.

All these accolades stem from Pattinson’s lead role in Twilight, a film directed by Catherine (Thirteen) Hardwicke and based on the massively popular youth novel by Stephenie Meyers, the first of four in a series that has sold 25 million copies worldwide and been translated into 37 languages.

Some 3,000 actors auditioned for the role of pale, broody Edward Cullen. It went to Pattinson, who certainly scores in the looks department, even if he’s only an adequate actor and the most mature looking 17-year-old since John Travolta in Grease.

Edward is a vampire – one of five self-confident, glamorous foster children of the equally pale doctor in Forks, a grey US hicktown where it rains often. It’s here that we first meet Twilight’s leading lady – teen Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), who is new in town to live with her estranged dad, Charlie (Billy Burke), the police chief, when her mom remarries.

When she lays eyes on the enigmatic, taciturn Edward, who keeps to himself at school, there is instant chemistry and, after a short period of Edward trying to avoid Bella, the two are drawn closer. However, the tension escalates when Bella starts to figure out that earnest Ed is no run-of-the-mill pale-face; and he, caught between passion and common-sense to end their relationship, for fear he’ll have her for a snack rather than a cuddle, spills the beans about what he really is.

Cold-to-the-touch Edward is a vampire, yes, but he doesn’t sprout fangs and he and the other Cullens are a vampire vegetarian variation, eating only the blood of animals. But they have been known to make a slip up or two, which explains Edward’s concern that he may go for Bella’s jugular instead of giving her a love bite.

All this love under pressure starts to percolate at a time when Bella faces dangers from other areas as well – rival vampires arrive and one pony-tailed nasty dude called James can’t wait to nibble on her neck.

The film introduces many characters who have very little to do, but seemingly they are being introduced for highlighting in upcoming sequels, the first of which is reportedly already in the pipeline. There is also a problem with pacing – the quick start slows to a crawl before picking up speed again towards the end – and the film is too long at a little over two hours.

The tweaking of vampire rules is also a bit annoying. Besides having no fangs, vampires in Twilight have to be dismembered and burned to be killed (nope, no stakes to the heart) and rather than die horrible deaths in sunlight they simply, um, sparkle when rays hit them.

All considered, however, this is not a bad film. But neither is it anything Oscar-worthy. Teen girls will enjoy it most. Rating 6/10 – Billy Suter