The motion picture Twilight is based on a series of books written by Stephenie Meyers. The story of a love triangle between a human, a vampire and a shape shifting wolf, the books inspired a whole generation of teenagers and adults. Fans snatched up a 100 million copies of the four books that have been translated into 39 different languages [ CITATION Pom10 \l 1033 ]. Released on 28 November 2008 with a production budget of $37 million, the movie Twilight grossed a total of $192,769,854 at the box office, making it a resounding success. However, although the movie was popular with fans, it received mixed reviews from critics. I will be comparing the reviews by James Berardinelli and Empire Online in this essay, emphasizing their salient points and finally concluding with reasoning on why I believe the Empire Online review is more accurate.
The Characters of Twilight
Isabella ‘Bella’ Swan (played by Kristen Stewart) moves from Phoenix to a small town named Forks to live with her father. At school, she meets the mysterious Edward Cullen (played by Robert Pattinson) and is instantly attracted towards him. Although Edward and his siblings stay aloof from the other students at school, Edward too is drawn towards Bella. Over the course of the movie, Bella finds out that the Cullens are actually a family of vampires. Unable and unwilling to abandon their relationship despite the obvious dangers, the star crossed lovers face several moral, emotional and natural (considering they are from different species) hurdles. Bella befriends Jacob Black (played by Taylor Lautner) who, unknown to Bella, belongs to a clan shape shifting wolves at that are sworn enemies of vampires. Jacob begins to fall in love with Bella and the third angle of the love triangle is born. While Empire Online merely gives a short and concise summary of the plot, Barardinelli discusses the characters in details and finds the chemistry between the lead pair to be shallow.
The Actors of Twilight
Both Berardinelli and Empire Online praise Kristen Stewart for her portrayal of Bella, saying that she brings ‘seriousness’ to the role (Berardinelli) and is ‘consistently excellent’ (Empire Online). Berardinelli is unforgiving towards Pattinson, declaring that he was ‘clearly chosen for his looks than his acting ability’. On the other hand, Empire Online praises Pattinson for adding a little extra darkness to Edward’s character than the book, hence making it more appealing. It acknowledges that playing Edward Cullen as one’s first lead role is a tough challenge. As Lautner has very little screen time in the movie, both reviews reserve their comments on his performance. Berardinelli is obviously unaware of how story progresses in the next installment of the saga and claims that ‘No one else in the film merits mention’. Empire Online review is more aware of the importance of the supporting characters and praises how each character, especially Edward’s sister Alice (played by Ashley Greene) are best fits.
The Special Effects
Both reviews share views on the special effects being terrible. According to Meyer, vampires sparkle like diamonds in daylight (instead of the traditional burning up into ashes theory but the SFX team only manages to make Edward’s skin look strangely spangled, not nearly as appealing. The scenes where Edward runs super fast and climbs up trees with Bella on his back seemed tacky with effects that are better suited for the 1970s.Empire Online, however, does give credit to the makers for using natural settings of the Pacific Northwest to recreate the always overcast look of Forks and the overall darkness portrayed in the movie.
Although both reviews have several similarities, I believe Berardinelli’s review fails to take into consideration a vital factor that influenced the way Twilight was made – its target audience. Empire Online, however, acknowledges that Twilight is perfect for the teenage audience, maybe even for people in their early twenties. Empire’s review is also more balanced, highlight positive points like how the actors selected to play the lead characters are perfect matches, which is why they have been so well received by fans. Finally, Empire acknowledges that twilight is a movie made specifically for fans of the Twilight saga and gives due credit to the director for capturing the vision of the author.