Based on the first in the colossally popular series of novels by Stephanie Meyer, Twilight is an unbridled fantasy for adolescent girls… and a very goofy vampire comedy for the rest of us.
The story centres on Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), a glum, misunderstood teen who leaves her humdrum life in Phoenix behind to live with her father (Billy Burke), a stern-but-loving cop in Forks, Washington.
On her first day of school, Bella meets the breathlessly handsome and bewitchingly mysterious Edward Cullen (Hogwarts alumnus Robert Pattinson), an alabaster-skinned James Dean in guyliner who punches away a wayward truck that was skidding dangerously towards her.
Naturally, they quickly develop a doomed romance, much to the chagrin of Edward’s chalk-faced siblings.
For director Catherine Hardwicke, it’s no great leap from the hormonal hysteria of Thirteen to Twilight’s overwrought, eye-rolling teenage wasteland.
What surprises is how, in spite of its melodramatic foibles, it manages to entertain so much. Whether it’s the jawtumbling dialogue (“You’re like my own personal brand of heroin!”), the dodgy special effects, including many man-on-wire shots of Edward scuttling up trees like a well-dressed squirrel, or just the berserk byways the film takes (vampire baseball?), Twilight never ceases to keep viewers either chuckling or shaking heads in disbelief.
What little plot there is takes about 20 minutes to sew up. A trio of vamps who prefer human blood stumble into town, with the maddest one taking a ripe interest in the fertile veins of Bella.
In any sane cinematic outing, this would be the main thrust of the story. But it’s a mere distraction here, leaving ample time for the leads to bat their thick and lustrous lashes at one another.
It’s The Lost Boys as penned by your goth-obsessed little sister.
Grey on the surface but florid underneath, this swoony supernatural romance may amuse and bemuse non-initiates but won’t leave the faithful betrayed. The $70m opening Stateside will create plenty of sequel opportunities to fix the flaws.