Written by Old Bluffer 3rd Mar 2009
I was rather looking forwards to seeing Twilight - not because I thought it would be any good, but because I knew Mouseburger was grievously mistaken in what genre he thought it would be.
To be fair, I did tell him it was a teenage girly romance, but he was having none of it - "Nah mate, it's got vampires in it" were his words...
Forty five minutes into the film, during yet another lengthy piece of dialogue between Bella (a moody teenage bint) and Edward (a Jane Austen "Mr Darcy" archetype, whose constant attempts to be rude and stand-offish only serve to inflame her romantic desire - oh, and he's a vampire too)...
Edward: You should stay away from me.
Bella: Never! Your hair is too perfect, my love.
Edward: (moodily) I am dangerous. I have killed...
Bella: You'd never hurt me, you are like an alabaster angel.
Edward: (ominously) I want to kill *you*!
Bella: (distractedly) I hope all your vampire family like me, if they didn't that would be worse than being eaten.
...at which point he leaned across from his cinema seat, his face a tragic picture of hurt and disappointment. "I think this film has been directed by a woman!" he complained.
For me, this fully justified the cost of admission.
Anyway, I am far more in touch with my feminine side than Mouse, and have even subsequently read the original Twilight book, so am in a good position to write an objective review of the film - even though there is an almost criminal lack of sex or violence in it!
So, what we are dealing with here is a pretty simple premise - Edward is an immortal vampire, who thirsts after Bella's blood, but they both love each other. Even if they didn't though, Bella should still be safe, as Edward is part of the Cullen family, who are all "vegetarian" vampires, in that they eschew human flesh for moral reasons and dine out on innocent wild animals instead.
The Cullens are extremely unusual in their abstinence from eating mortals, and the token bit of peril this tale offers us stems from a chance meeting between three normal vampires, Bella and the Cullens. The Cullens are playing "vampire baseball" at the time, which would appear to be Stephanie Meyer's version of Quidditch in this series. Vampires you see, are ridiculously fast and strong, and are virtually unbreakable. So, the only way the Cullens can play baseball is on an enormous pitch, during a thunderstorm, so the local town doesn't hear the crack of bat betwixt ball.
So we get to see a bit of Crouching Shortstop, Hidden Outfielder action - which is clearly intended to be a big set action piece, but actually isn't very impressive - when the three interlopers arrive. The only one of any importance (in this film) is James, who doesn't seem very friendly at all.
Things go downhill once James catches a whiff of Bella.
"Ah, you've brought a snack..." he says, leering at the angsty teen.
This is enough to set Edward snarling at him in a vampire "attack" pose, which sadly looks and sounds rather comical. Just so you're under no delusion, these vampires are not at all as fearsome as the ones from 30 Days of Night - and in fact are about as scary as Count Duckula.
After a bit more grrrr'ing Peace is restored, and the trio retreat.
Edward has a unique gift though, which allows him to read minds, and James' is a cess pit. He is a "tracker", literally living for the thrill of a difficult hunt. As soon as Edward tried to protect Bella she instantly became the most exciting prey for him imaginable. We are left in no doubt - James is the absolute Daddy-Terminator of vampires, and he will never stop hunting her.
So, they have no choice but to send Bella off with Edward's siblings, Jasper and Alice, while the rest of the Cullens try and lead James off so they can trap and kill him.
Alice also has a useful gift of her own, in that she can see the future, and this plan seems a pretty good one to her, so they take Bella to a different city, where her mum's house is.
Suddenly though, Alice detects a shift in the future, James has cottoned on to the trap and changed course. Even worse, she can now see him and Bella alone in mirrored room.
Bella soon identifies this as her old ballet school, right next to her mum's house, and then her worst fears are confirmed. Her mum phones, sounding scared, and is interrupted by James. Bella must come alone to the school or the mum gets chomped.
Not having much choice, Bella slips out, fully prepared to die. All she can hope is that James will spare her mum.
She gets to the ballet school, and hears her mum crying out again, "Bella, Bella!"
When she gets closer though, she realises she has been thoroughly duped - James has just used an old family video to trick her.
Alone with the sadistic killer, Bella doesn't really have any options. She sprays him with some pepper spray, but this has no effect.
James wants more fun than a quick kill though. He wants to inspire Edward to furious vengeance so he can have the fun of that chase as well. So, he starts to video Bella's tearful last moments, and savagely snaps her leg to make the vid a bit more interesting.
During the torture, Bella's hand gets cut, which drives James wild. Losing his self control, he moves in to suck her blood - only to get slammed out of the way by Edward, who has arrived in the nick of time!
After some uninspired brawling, neither has a clear advantage, but then the rest of the Cullens arrive, and James is completely outmatched. He still manages to bite Bella though, infecting her with "vamire venom" which causes excruciating pain followed by the victim becoming a vampire (this is how all of the Cullen children were created).
This contrivance is set up for two reasons. Firstly the audience knows that Alice has seen Bella as a vampire in the future, so there is some expectation that she will be turned. I have news for you though - that particular plot strand is going to be milked for book after book, and will probably only happen shortly after Mulder and Scully get married.
The second reason is that it gives Edward a chance to prove that love conquers lustful thirst, as he has to suck the venom out without losing control and leaving her as a dried out human husk.
While he is chugging down her vital fluids, the Cullens restrain James and Alice leaps on top of the evil tracker and breaks his neck.
Old Bluffer's Thoughts
It's a bit unfair of me to rate this death "unsatisfying", as the story actually has nothing to do with James at all. It's all about first love, emotions, the difficulty of understanding your partner's thoughts and other twaddle. In fact, in the book, James' death isn't even described, Bella is just told he was killed when she wakes up in hospital.
Still, he was built up as being a powerful three hundred year old vampire, who was spoken of in awe by Laurent (the vampire that refused to fight against him), so we could reasonably have expected him to put up a bit more of a fight. Also, Mouseburger was bitterly disappointed by the "climax" of the film (actually the climax was supposed to be the prom dance, but he doesn't realise that), so I've awarded it the Unsatisfying category just for him.
So what is the film like? Actually not too bad, provided you enjoy it on the terms it intends - a teenage gothic romance.
One of the advantages of doing a film based on a fairly shallow book is that you don't need to cut anything out, so the film is mostly a faithful adaptation, which is no bad thing.
Kristen Stewart (who is the girl in Panic Room) plays the part of Bella well, and Edward isn't too awful (he's Cedric Diggory from the Harry Potter films by the way). After reading the novel I expecially liked the casting of Carlisle, Alice, Jasper and Jacob too.
Stephanie Meyer also conveniently shares the musical taste of her teen readership (cynical, me?!) so the soundtrack suits the film well (Muse, Paramore, Linkin Park etc) i.e. tunes to cut the name of your unrequited love into your arm to.
The Twilight metaverse is nothing we haven't seen before. You could describe it kindly as a darker version of Buffy (or unkindly as Buffy without the humour), although it's actually got more in common with Roswell.
My advice then - read the book first, and if you like it then definitely see the film.
Despite my snidey comments, I'll be watching the sequel, although not I suspect, with Mouseburger (unless he hears it has werewolves in it of course).