November 20, 2008, - 3:56 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
Several parents with young daughters have asked me whether it’s okay for their young daughters to see “Twilight“, the teen vampire love and adventure movie in theaters at Midnight, Tonight.
I say, take ‘em, provided they are twelve years old or older. There is no sex and very little violence. The little blood that there is, is mostly the result of violence that takes place offscreen.
I expected to hate “Twilight”, what with all the hype surrounding it and its teen heart throb star, Robert Pattinson. But it was actually a decent movie, much better than I expected. It was interesting, entertaining, and had its exciting moments. And it had a lot of action and heart-pounding thrills to balance out the chick-flick romance.
The only thing I really disliked about “Twilight” wasn’t the fault of moviemakers. It was an external thing: the non-stop shrieking and audible swooning of tweens and teens in the audience of the special screening I attended for this movie. Girls like these are expected to help this movie clean up at the box office, this weekend and beyond.
I like vampires and thrillers about them, and this more than fit the bill, if it got a few major vampire principles to the (were)wolves. Think “The Lost Boys”, only lighter and updated for the 2000s.
The two things I liked most about the movie are its portrayal of strong father figures in both human and good samaritan vampire families and its portrayal of teen romantic relationships without sex and with the addition of something that has been missing far too often: chivalry and the art of being a gentleman. Author Stephanie Meyer, on whose hit book the eponymous movie is based, is a Mormon with traditional values that she manages to impart to teens in an interesting way through her books and this movie.
The story centers on Bella, who moves from her mother’s and boyfriend’s home, when they go on the road. She goes to live with her father in small town Washington State, near an Indian reservation. At school, she meets Edward Cullen, the brooding, pale, mysterious foster child of a local doctor. When he saves her life, displaying superhuman powers, Bella soon learns that Edward is a vampire. But not the bad kind.
The Cullens are a group of vampires who are known as “vegetarian vampires”, meaning they only drink blood from animals and resist the overwhelming temptation to drink human blood. Edward can’t have sex with Bella or get overly excited, as he’s liable to give in to the temptation to drink her blood. Instead, he focuses on being the perfect gentleman, considerate, manly, and heroic. Together, he and his foster family of vampires fight the non-vegetarian, human-seeking vampires.
Author Stephanie Meyer, on whose book this movie is based, admits she did zero research on vampires. That explains the fact that, unlike standard vampire legend and lore, these vampires can be out in the sun and the daylight (but in sunlight, their skin sparkles like diamonds), why there was no use of garlic or stakes through the heart, or anything like that.
There is also an interesting backstory, that has no background in Transylvania or Van Helsing-dom. The local Indian tribe has a sort of vampire radar (vamp-dar?). Legend has it that the Indians and the vampires, while enemies, have a deal to leave each other alone. But, in author Meyer’s later books, the Indians are actually werewolves, rivals to the vampires. Hmmm . . . think I could write a book about how Muslims are werewolves, and get away with it?
Looks to be an interesting set of future sequels to please the Harry Potter crowd as they age into something slightly more mature, though without sexual adult themes or major violence.
There were a few things about the movie that take away from its luster: some really, really, really, really bad romantic dialogue lines that made me laugh out loud, the obvious fact that the vampires are unnaturally pale and white-faced, and some slow, dull moments. The ending scenes were hokey. And I’m not a huge fan of girlie-manish male lead Pattinson, who has way-too-overdone bedhead hair, way-too-sculpted eyebrows, and looks like he wears lipstick.
But over all, as movies for teens go these days, this was one of the better ones . . . much better.