Release Date: November 21, 2008
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Movie of the Day for Wednesday, November 19, 2008
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All great romances begin in trees.

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
31/31 Les Winan I'm not the target audience, but this is a shitty, shitty movie.
148/196 Max Braden Boring, ridiculous and silly. If this hadn't been based on a popular novel, it would have been completely rejected at the box office. The interesting Native American lore was underused.

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I picked up Twilight on the recommendation of a librarian friend right when it was first released. I read it straight through and enjoyed it enough that I bought a second copy to give to my sister for Christmas. She liked the novel every bit as much as I did. As a data point, both my sister and I are over 30.

Little did I know that this Young Adult-targeted book would soon become a series and a sensation. Stephenie Myer followed up Twilight with three other books, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn. The books have sold more than 17 million copies worldwide and 8.5 million in the U.S. alone. And it's also probably important to note that they have a certain "pass-along" value, as teens read the book and give it to other friends to read. My copy is in fact about to be passed along to a friend, so I can speak to this element of the phenomenon.

Needless to say, there is a massive built-in audience for the Twilight series. It was only a matter of time before a film would be made, and the only surprise here is that perhaps it was finished a bit too quickly. Summit Entertainment, an upstart studio best known for such films as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Memento, and Step Up, took on the movie adaptation of the novel, and the product is set for release in theaters. Needless to say, crowds of teenage girls are thrilled at the prospect of seeing this "vampire romance" played out onscreen.

For the uninitiated, Twilight tells the story of a high school girl named Bella Swan. She moves from her mother's home in Arizona on a self-imposed exile to her father's residence in Forks, Washington. As she adjusts to life at her new school, she notices a table full of absolutely gorgeous people in the cafeteria. These teens are distant from all of the other students, and are set apart by their perfection. They are the Cullen family.

Bella gets to meet one of the Cullens up close as he sits beside her in Chemistry class. While she tries to be friendly, Edward seems to just hate Bella. She has no idea why.

Still, her encounters with the beautiful Edward seem unavoidable. Bella is somewhat accident-prone, and Edward continuously seems to be rescuing her. Their relationship grows into something more special, and she learns his secret. Edward and his family are vampires. (I'd be hesitant to spoil this information normally, but given the information available on the film, I don't think this is a surprise to anyone.) They hunt various animals in order to quench their thirst for blood, and have trained themselves to be able to safely walk amongst normal humans. It helps that it almost always rains in Forks, for although the vampires are not actually disturbed by the light, they have certain…characteristics that make their differences much more obvious.

And so it is that Twilight explores the romance between a teenaged girl and a vampire. For the theatrical version, Bella will be portrayed by Kristen Stewart, who has built a decent resume thanks to appearances in films like Into the Wild, Zathura and Panic Room (she was Jodie Foster's daughter in that film). Robert Pattinson stars as Edward, and for those who don't know the name, you almost certainly know the actor. He played the doomed Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (which makes for a fascinating point - he will have appeared in movie adaptations of two of the best-loved Young Adult book series of the late 20th/early 21st century). The film is directed by Catherine Hardwicke, who knows a little something about teen angst. She's done fine work with previous movies like Thirteen and Lords of Dogtown, in fact.

There has been significant debate on the box office potential of Twilight, and the doubters seem to be mainly composed of people who have never heard of the books. Anyone who has heard about the vigilant crowds who have stormed appearances by Pattinson and Stewart will know that this is a unique story. It doesn't matter to diehard fans what the trailer looks like. This is an opportunity to see their beloved Edward and Bella onscreen. And my suspicion is that this will be a huge, breakout film that will surprise the doubters. We'll see how right I am. (Kim Hollis/BOP)

Vital statistics for Twilight
Main Cast Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson
Supporting Cast Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Nikki Reed, Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone, Cam Cigandet, Kellan Lutz, Anna Kendrick, Taylor Lautner
Director Catherine Hardwicke
Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg
Distributor Summit Entertainment
Official Site
Rating PG-13
Screen Count 3,419
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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