It’s got the potential to be the biggest thing to hit the multiplexes since a certain British kid and his flying broom. It’s “Twilight”, the teen vampire movie that has been sold out across the land for weeks now ahead of its Friday opening. Yes, that means it’s opening today, and chances are if you have a literate teenage daughter and you notice she’s suddenly missing and hasn’t been seen from for a few hours now, it just means she’s either camping out at your local theaters, or she’s constantly buying tickets to see “Twilight” over and over again cause gosh darn it Edward is just that hot. If this thing doesn’t make a mint at the box office this weekend, color me surprise and call me Sally.
The Twilighters will definitely be seeing it, but what about the critics? It’s not looking good for the old farts. As of this writing, Rotten Tomatoes currently has the film listed at a meager 44% freshness rating. Let’s take a look at what the blokes who get paid to write this stuff has to say, shall we?
Note to “Twilight” fans: I am not the ones saying these things about your movie, it’s these other guys, so please direct all hate mail to them. Thank you much.
How can you start a critic roundtable without starting with the fat man himself? Here’s Roger Ebert, who didn’t exactly like the film, but seems to “get” enough of it to give it a pass:
“Twilight” will mesmerize its target audience, 16-year-old girls and their grandmothers. Their mothers know all too much about boys like this. I saw it at a sneak preview. Last time I saw a movie in that same theater, the audience welcomed it as an opportunity to catch up on gossip, texting, and laughing at private jokes. This time the audience was rapt with attention. Sometimes a soft chuckle, as when the principal Indian boy has well-developed incisors. Sometimes a soft sigh. Afterwards, I eavesdropped on some conversations. A few were saying, “He’s so hot!” More floated in a sweet dreaminess. Edward seemed to stir their surrender instincts.
Owen Gleiberman at EW gets it, too:
For girls, the intense, ego-stroking appeal of Meyer’s novel was the way that Bella becomes this undead Byronic stud’s soul mate without quite knowing why she’s worthy. She’s a Kewl Generation damsel waiting to be rescued from her jaded heart. Stewart is an ideal casting choice — she conveys Bella’s detachment, as well as her need to bust through it. And getting Catherine Hardwicke to direct Twilight was a shrewd move, because the youthquake specialist of Thirteen treats teen confusion without a trace of condescension: She gets their grand passions and prickly defense mechanisms.
Justin Chang at Variety, on the other hand, not so much:
But even with angsty rock songs, lurching camerawork and emo-ish voiceover at her disposal, Hardwicke can’t get inside the head of her young protagonist, Isabella “Bella” Swan (Kristen Stewart); consequently, Bella’s decision to get hot and heavy with a hot-and-hungry vampire, far from seeming like an act of mad, transgressive passion, comes across as merely stupid and ill-considered. The result is a supernatural romance in which the supernatural and romantic elements feel rushed, unformed and insufficiently motivated, leaving audiences with little to do but shrug and focus on the eye-candy.
Chang’s crosstown rival, Kirk Honeycutt at THR, apparently bears a grudge against camping … and “Twilight”:
Operas have arias; “Twilight” has stares. Nothing in Melissa Rosenberg’s fairly intelligent screenplay suggests the need for this much ornate direction. Nor should her two actors, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, be condemned to performances that will have girls’ dates screaming with laughter. When left to their own devices, these are sensitive young actors who more than deliver the complexities of two people in love who must surmount formidable barriers.
Well-respected net critic James Berardinelli didn’t get most of it, too, but that seemed to be okay with him:
Twilight isn’t an especially good movie, but neither is it an abomination. At times, the dialogue is laugh-aloud bad – almost to the point of being hilarious – and some of the acting is reminiscent of what we saw taking center stage in George Lucas’ Star Wars prequel trilogy. The pace is uneven, there are an abundance of secondary characters who serve no real purpose (presumably, their existence will have a point in future installments), and there are a few scenes that drag on too long. Nevertheless, as the momentum builds and the romantic melodrama soars to a crescendo, it’s hard not to be entertained – at least a little bit – by what’s transpiring. This is a Harlequin romance by way of Dark Shadows. If it was a little better made and more tightly plotted, it might satisfy the requirements of a guilty pleasure.
And just for laughs, here’s Peter Hartlaub at SF Gate with the review blurb of the day:
One more small note, which is very important for the future of our economy: Several characters in this film have George Michael’s gravity-defying bird’s-nest hair from the Wham “Make It Big” sessions, which looks only slightly less ridiculous now than it did in 1984. Invest any spare cash you have in companies that deal in hair gel. I have a feeling this film is going to be huge.
And there you have it, what the critics who get paid for this stuff have to say. But what do YOU have to say?
Below: “Are those vampire teeth or are you just happy to see me?”