Ahh, Twilight. I remember well the good old days of the original, way before the year-long depressions and I-can’t-unsee-it pregnancy horrors of the sequels. If you somehow avoided the whole sparkly vampire bandwagon, let me now enlighten you on the virtues of this guilty pleasure:
Supposedly a metaphor for chastity, Twilight is instead Tantric Sex for Teenagers. If you have a single hormone in your body it will be screaming for release 15 minutes into Twilight, but there is no release. It just goes on, and on, and on, a deliciously slow erotic tease of longing, hungry looks and personal space-invading with the barest of touches, deep sighs, softly parted lips, creamy white skin, and flowing hair. Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan is all pale, pouty teenage angst and quivering young love and Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen is all dark-eyed, ruby lipped, tightly coiled ravenous passion. Seriously, you might break something internally from the unrequited heat that pours off the screen.
Twilight is, quite simply, a work of genius in its genre. It captures perfectly the mind of a teenage girl, giving us the silent loner Bella, a heroine who holds herself apart from others and avoids the pressures of fitting in by acting as if she’s not interested and above all of that teenage crap. Only a teenage girl like this, with overly romanticized notions of love and sacrifice, would decide after a few weeks of longing looks that it’s worth becoming a vampire to be with the pretty boy at her new school. Bella is the modern day Marianne Dashwood of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility: if a romance isn’t at Romeo & Juliet levels of tragic passion, it ain’t worth having.
Remember it’s all a metaphor…Bella makes her Lolita supermodel entrance with the fan blowing her brunette tresses around her lovely, luminescently pale face…
At the sight of her, Edward reacts with a pained shudder as he quickly covers
his erection the extension of his vampire teeth…
And yes, that’s right, they’re in biology class.
The unintended consequences of having Robert Pattinson, that man with refined features that Michelangelo would weep over, play Edward Cullen in this metaphorical tale of chastity is that his vampiric charm is so smolderingly hot that entire audiences of teenage girls (and horny boys, and dirty old adult ladies like me) have actually incinerated in their seats. Those that managed to get their sweating, panting selves out alive have exited the theater (or home theater) looking for someone warm-blooded to immediately shag into oblivion. So much for chastity.
This is the scene that was shown in the Twilight trailer that got me hooked–
Edward stops the car with one hand, turns even paler and more ruby-lipped, and then gives Bella a look of I will devour you…
Before you start cruising rainy small town high schools for your own personal Edward, let me add a few review-ish notes about Twilight: it gets a lot of things right. For once we have a high school that isn’t all filled with gross stereotypes of jocks and nerds–there’s just a lot of dorky kids trying to act cool and getting all weirded out by the pale incestuous family that they nonetheless all have the hots for. The group of friends Bella pretty much stumbles into are actually nicer than she deserves, and there’s a good moment when she’s fleeing for her life with the dangerous vampire and sees all her friends at the local cafe living carefree teenage lives–it’s an actual realization that hey, maybe Romeo and Juliet didn’t have the right idea and it’s okay to just be a dork picking out a cheesy prom dress.
I also liked that her parents were screwed up enough to make you believe Bella was their kid, but they were still smart and real and not the big idiots that teenage movies like to make parents into. Billy Burke puts in a nice performance as Bella’s dad, his caring for her showing through all the awkward silences and false starts at meaningful conversations. He’s also kinda hot. Okay, so I guess we’re back to that again.
And in all seriousness, the fact that the action never goes beyond a heated kiss is okay too. Showing two hotter-than-the-funnest-levels-of-Hades teenagers simply lying in the grass and enjoying one another’s company isn’t a bad thing. Edward and Bella make sarcastic jabs at one another, confide their secrets, share their desires, and care about what the other person is going through. Not a bad example to set for anyone, especially teenagers.
Twilight is a simple story, and it’s not a film that’s going to work for everyone. But if you’re a romantic teenage girl, or remember what it was like to be one, then you’ll enjoy it for its dark, atomospheric, UST-filled vampiric charm.
And if you’re a straight man who finds the whole thing nauseating, don’t tell your girlfriend or wife. Let her watch it, and make sure you’re available afterward to reap the benefits. Trust me on this one.
As for the DVD itself, the visual quality is excellent. Screencapping a film lets you see just how good the transfer is, and Twilight passes the test. No need to sharpen or adjust contrast or tweak in any way. It’s simply a film of stunning images, whether on your TV or computer screen.
The DVD is also nicely enhanced with extras, with a 7-part documentary, deleted scenes, and audio commentary with both stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, as well as director Catherine Hardwicke.
PHOTOS: Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen and Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan in Twilight, screencaps c2008 Goldcrest Pictures, Summit Entertainment.