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The Independent Critic

Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, Nikki Reed
Catherine Hardwicke
Melissa Rosenberg (based on Stephenie Meyer novel)
Rated PG-13
122 Mins.

 "Twilight" Review 

I've been wondering.

Are you on Facebook? If you are, then you've likely experienced "Pieces of Flair," a fun little application in which you send to your friends small banner graphics with all sorts of messages ranging from the personal to the nonsensical to the political and the mundane. Amongst all these pieces of flair, it's possible to ignore virtually endless references to "Edward Cullen."

I found myself thinking "Who the heck is this Edward Cullen, anyway?"

I chalked him up as some teeny-bopper actor on one of television's countless numbers of teen and young adult-targeted television shows and usually have just clicked rather rapidly through these particular pieces of flair.

THEN...along comes "Twilight" and, suddenly, I'm now in the know.

Wow. I really am getting old. Who knew I was this far out of touch with pop culture?

I'm tempted to call "Twilight" the "Freaks & Geeks" for the current teen generation. I'm tempted...but, in all honesty, I don't want to deal with the hate mail that would generate.

Perhaps it's "High School Musical" with vampires?

Maybe "Beverly Hills 90210?" Oh, wait. Those WERE vampires.

I even thought a bit about the hottie vampires from "The Lost Boys," a film I enjoyed far more than I should have.

Simply put, "Twilight" is based upon a teen novel by Stephenie Meyer about a high school junior named Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart, "Into the Wild"). Swan has always been a bit of an outsider, a fact that seems fine by her. When her mother marries, Swan makes the decision to live with her father and moves from Phoenix, Arizona to Forks, Washington. It is in Forks where Bella encounters the devastatingly beautiful Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson, "Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire"). Edward is unlike any boy she has ever met, even moreso true than she initially realizes.

Edward is a vampire.

I could go on and tell you more, but those of you who raced out to the film's midnight showings have undoubtedly read the book and could, undoubtedly, tell me much more about the plot than I could ever tell you.

I haven't read the book. I won't read the book. I didn't hate the movie, but I simply refuse to give it more than a modest recommendation.

It's a simple film about the love that develops between Edward and Bella, and how Edward must not consummate for the risk of biting Bella and, well, we all know how that story goes.

Directed by Catherine Hardwicke ("The Navity Story" and "Thirteen"), "Twilight" is stylishly created and cinematically emo. It is content to exist, for nearly the film's entire 122 minute running time, at that place that nearly every teen girls know where the first kiss is worth dying for, the first caress makes the earth stand still and where love makes everything else irrelevant.

In other words, it's fantasy.

"Twilight" might actually get a recommendation from me were it not for one simple, insurmountable factor...Perhaps owing to the film's awkwardly stilted dialogue, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson simply exhibit zilch in the way of chemistry. Despite Hardwicke's greatest efforts, mostly in the form of close-ups and swooning cinematography, the scenes between Stewart and Pattinson are, at best, uninvolving and, at worst, laughably bad.

The supporting cast is far more successful in bringing Meyer's novel to life, most notably Nikki Reed, the young actress who penned Hardwicke's first film, "Thirteen," when she was a mere 14-years-old. As Rosalie Hale, Reed again captivates the screen with beauty and intensity despite being destined to take a back seat to the love between Edward and Bella. From what I've heard, screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg does her best to remain faithful to the story (which actually evolves over the course of three books in addition to the initial one upon which the film is based). Unfortunately, Rosenberg's insistence on what amounts to cameos for the tale's central characters often results in each character feeling uninvolving and unimportant. Were the film a mere 90 minutes, that wouldn't feel so obvious, however, by the time "Twilight" finishes up at the 122 minute mark it's almost mind-numbing.

I'm writing this review late, actually on the film's second day open and it is already wildly successful having topped $70 million on its opening Friday and recouping its $37 million production budget.

In other words, it's critic proof. Teen girls like what teen girls like...and teen girls like "Twilight" and Edward Cullen.

Will you like Edward Cullen? I doubt it. "Twilight" is aimed squarely at the heart that longs and still believes in absolute love and I dare say it will be a popular date flick for the teen and young adult crowd.

"Twilight" is sure to be an overnight success, but 114 years from now? It'll be long forgotten.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic