Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser

Directed by Catherine Hardwicke
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 2.5
Community: star rating
5 2.5 0
November 21, 2008

Bummer. The vampires have no fangs. The humans are humdrum. The special effects and makeup define cheeseball. And the movie crowds in so many characters from Stephenie Meyer's book that Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen) is less a director than a traffic cop. But there's a reason that Twilight has already become the movie equivalent of a bestseller: The love story has teeth.

Props to Kristen Stewart, 18, and Robert Pattinson, 22, for playing this uncool-girl-meets-undead-boy story with genuine romantic ardor. They're both terrific. Even when the movie gets really silly, they never do. Stewart (Panic Room, Into the Wild) brings just the right blend of ferocity and feeling to the role of Bella Swan, the loner from Phoenix who leaves her mom to live with her police-chief dad in rarely sunny (hint! hint!) Washington state.

In biology class, Bella is partnered with standoffish hunk Edward Cullen (Pattinson). Edward hangs only with his four siblings, who share his pallor. Bella picks up on it quick. For Edward, it's love at first sniff. He wants Bella's blood; it's only later that his interests go deeper. For Bella, Edward's beauty is just window dressing for a guy who taps into her isolation and need for connection. He comes in handy when rapists attack and a runaway car shows up to crush her.

Pattinson, a British actor best known as Cedric Diggory in two Harry Potter films, has already attracted a swooning teen fan base unequaled since Leonardo DiCaprio sailed on the Titanic. But what's with the tacky FX that show Edward flying Bella through the trees? I admit a $37 million budget is modest these days, but it should buy more than blurry camera moves and a lame game of vampire baseball.

As for sex, there's a quick flash of Edward in bed with Bella, his fangs dripping blood, but she's dreaming it. Otherwise, Edward's choppers are frustratingly normal. He's afraid he'll kill her if they go all the way. Cullen family members, including M.D. father Carlisle (Peter Facinelli), try hard to feed on animal blood instead of the human kind. But there are slip-ups. You buy the fantasy because Pattinson goes beyond dreamboat duty to create a character you believe in.

Readers of Meyer's young-adult novel know that the tale continues through three more books (New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn). And, damn, it helps if you read them. Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg (Step Up) struggles hard to stay faithful to Meyer, resulting in a script that rolls out like a Cliffs Notes outline, with each character popping up for a cameo and a brief résumé: James (Cam Gigandet) is a vamp who won't settle for Carlisle's tofu and wants to snack on Bella. Bella's pal Jacob (Taylor Lautner) is a werewolf. You'll need a score card. My advice: Focus on Pattinson and Stewart. They make you understand why the books sold 17 million copies. Love makes the world go round. Even if you're dead.

Movie Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Santa Monica”

    Everclear | 1996

    After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

    More Song Stories entries »