I have never read the book "Twilight" - and since I’m also not a teenage girl (despite occasionally tittering like one) - I’m hardly in what you’d term the "target audience" for the celluloid version of this girl-meets-vampire romance. That’s OK; I like movies with fangs. And despite the fact that I was one of approximately five guys in the audience at the screening of Catherine Hardwicke’s adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s popular novel, I felt ready to explore my bloodlust through the fluttering eyelashes of a pubescent femme.
Unfortunately, the movie is too tightly targeted to its audience; it left me cold, bloodless, and convinced I’d just seen a dark, elongated version of "90210." It’s got a terrific half-hour built into its third act, but the rest of the movie lacks... well, for lack of a better word, fangs.
The story would seem to revolve around the character of Bella (Kristen Stewart), who is shipped off from Arizona to Forks, Washington, where the town’s population of 3,120 includes her police chief dad (Billy Burke), a group of American Indians, and a cadre of uppity undead with pale skin, beautiful faces and a penchant for blood. Fortunately for the gen-pop, this local family of vamps - the Cullens - has decided to foreswear the tastier human variety (although it’s not clear what they eat instead). To mask their immortality, they unendingly repeat cycles of "normal" activity, which means that the younger set remains rather permanently matriculated in High School. I’m still uncertain how they manage to tolerate immortality when it means taking Biology classes for eternity.
At school, Bella is struck by the beauty of Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson, last seen being murdered by Voldemort in a graveyard). In turn, Edward is turned on by her - in a more visceral sense, that is. He longs to take her blood, but he kinda likes her too. For her part, she attempts to unravel the mysteries of Edward’s brood (show queens, start your engines). After all, he’s lightning-fast, extraordinarily strong, and so unusually damn sexy! He must be otherworldly, and she spends an inordinate time getting him to admit his Draculean roots - more time than she collectively spends doing homework or generally moping around, two of the favorite pastimes of the disenfranchised young intelligencia.
A romance follows. Edward saves Bella’s life. The Cullens play baseball. Bad vampires come to town and decide they want to eat Bella. Edward thinks that sucks. Fights break out. And four hundred young girls in the audience sigh in paralyzed intoxication each time Edward moves in for a kiss, then titter when they get a glimpse of his chest.
The fact is, there’s a thirty minute stretch of action at the top of Act Three that’s exceptionally good; and to her credit, Hardwicke brings a terrific visual sensibility to the tale. Reed and Pattinson have serious chemistry, and despite a ponderous amount of pasty white makeup the vampires are moderately interesting character studies. "Twilight" will absolutely appeal to fans of the novel and/or teenage girls out for a dreamy fantasy film. For the rest of us? Maybe not.