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Movie Review: Twilight

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Adaptations of anything to film, whether it be a book, a video game or a comic, are always going to annoy loyal fans of the source material if the filmmakers happen to change even the tiniest of details. But for anyone not familiar with the source, watching a film adaptation can be a great experience because you get to watch it with no preconceived notion as to how it should turn out.

I’m sure this will be the case for many with Twilight, as it is with me, which makes it even more surprising that I really liked it. Perhaps not having any knowledge about it beforehand allowed for any changes through adaptation to go unnoticed and therefore forgiven. Twilight is not the event movie that it’s been made out to be, but it’s an enjoyable film that introduces some great new ideas to the well-worn vampire mythology.

After moving to a small town in Washington, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) attempts to settle in at her new school. Her eye is immediately caught by the mysterious Edward Cullen, and they soon start to form a connection with one another. But Bella quickly notices he isn’t like other people; he is stronger and faster and his skin is ice cold. She then discovers that Edward is vampire who lives with his vampire family on the outskirts of the town. But Bella isn’t scared away by this but drawn closer to Edward and the pair's connection starts to grow stronger.

As a fan of vampire movies (along with zombie, werewolf, and pretty much any other kind of monster movies) Twilight was instantly appealing. As I haven’t read the books which the film is based on I have nothing to compare the film to. Sometimes that’s for the best; that way you have no way of criticising the film on any other basis. And what I found that Twilight has going for it the most was the vampire mythology at the centre of it.

It introduces some ideas to the whole vampire mythology that are refreshingly unique and that add an original element that seems to be missing from other movies of its type. These vampires don’t burn when exposed to sunlight but rather change in look which in turn gives away their identity and they each have a special ability different from one another. For instance Edward can read minds, whilst one of the vampires he lives with has visions of the future. It’s been a very long time since a movie introduced some new ideas other than the allergic to sunlight and crosses routine. Whatever you think of the movie one thing you can't say is that it isn't original.

What’s strange about Twilight is it plays things, for the most part, pretty low-key in nature. One would think they would go balls to the wall, having action scene after action scene to keep the blockbuster crowd happy, which the advertising makes it out to be for. But there’s little action in the film out with a couple here and there and a big one at the end. Throughout there’s fairly impressive use of special effects as we see these vampires run fast, clamber up tress and, of course, fly. But it’s fairly laid back and low-key at the same time. To some this may be underwhelming but I found it refreshing and enjoyably different from most other films of its type.

The casting is pretty much perfect; Kristen Stewart is endearing and likeable as the leading lady (she really has come far from her early days just seven years ago in Panic Room) and Robert Pattinson (who you may recognise from the last two Harry Potter films) is charming and almost magnetic as our lead vampire (although one wonders if he was chosen for his looks more than anything else). The film actually leans a lot more towards the love story between Bella and Edward than it does the vampire stuff which you can sense is what the source material was like too. I think that’s fine for the first in the franchise as this stands as more of an introduction than the actual proceedings themselves.

But that’s not to say this doesn’t work as a standalone film; there’s an engaging story going on here that holds its own and holds your interest for the two hour runtime. It perhaps takes a bit too long to finally reveal the vampire angle that we all knew was coming but not enough to hinder it too much overall. Perhaps I’m in the minority amongst viewers who have no prior knowledge of this tale but I can’t help my opinion; I really did like Twilight a fair bit.

Twilight is sure to please fans of the original books but will most likely leave anyone uninitiated in the dark. But I found it to be a surprisingly engaging piece of work with a brilliant, unique mythology at its base. Hope for more vampire action can be kept in reserve for the sequel but as it stands this first film is worthwhile.

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About Ross Miller