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'Twilight' Countdown: The critics weigh in

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Excited? I'm sure many of you are going to Thursday's midnight screenings of "Twilight," and I can't wait to hear the reviews.

But what are the critics saying? Are the paid professionals, many of whom no doubt have not read Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" saga, buying into Bella and Edward''s forbidden-love story?   

So far, so good:

Michael Phillips at the Chicago Tribune is mostly pleased, calling "Twilight" a film of "intelligent strengths [albeit] easily avoidable weaknesses." He gives props to screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg for a script he deems "better written than Meyer's book, which tends toward froth and fulmination. (Sample line: 'I was in danger of being distracted by his livid, glorious face.') [...] And she tones up her heroine, who was a passive Victorian simp -- pure fainting-couch material -- on the page." Phillips' biggest beef? The special effects, which he equates to "a weaker episode from season six of 'Charmed.' "

Metromix.com's Geoff Berkshire also says Rosenberg succeeds in upping the ante of Meyer's book but comes up split on leads Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson: "As far as human-vampire romances go 'Twilight' has nothing on the best seasons of TV’s 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer,' but director Catherine Hardwicke’s cinematic vision is blessedly (sorry, hardcore Twilighters) a lot more enjoyable than Meyer’s clunky prose. Major props to Stewart, who refuses to turn Bella into a lovestruck sap, and anchors the movie with the ease and authority of both a great actress and a true movie star. The same can’t be said just yet for her much drooled over co-star. Pattinson takes some admirable risks to shift his character away from the stereotypical brooding rebel, but whether his career follows the teen idol lead of Johnny Depp or Luke Perry is open for debate."

Rick Bentley of the Detroit Free Press thinks both actors did a fine job, saying: "Their work should silence many of the critics." "Pattinson makes brooding a science. And Stewart finds the right blend of strength and vulnerability to play Bella. The supporting cast is strong, especially Nikki Reed as the headstrong Rosalie and Rachelle Lefevre as Victoria. And the non-vampire high school students are the best supporting cast in a vampire tale since the days of 'Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.'" But again, those pesky low-budget effects are a problem: "The special abilities of the vampires, such as super speed, looks gimmicky. Scenes in which Edward races or flies through the forest come across as bad puppet theater."

The film's strongest naysayer so far is Variety's Justin Chang, who describes the entire affair as anemic: "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; 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."

But Roger Ebert called it "lush and beautiful," said the actors were "well-chosen" and predicted that fans of the book will be "mesmerized": " 'Twilight' will mesmerize its target audience, 16-year-old girls and their grandmothers. ... 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. ... 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."

Seeing "Twilight" on Thursday at midnight? E-mail me your review at Denise.Martin@latimes.com and I'll post a round-up first thing Friday morning. I want to hear all your thoughts!

And catch up on past Countdown interviews: Robert Pattinson (Parts 1, 2 and 3), Kristen Stewart, author Stephenie Meyer, director Catherine Hardwicke (Parts 1 and 2), screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg, Peter Facinelli, Edi Gathegi and Taylor Lautner.

-- Denise Martin

Complete "Twilight" Countdown coverage
Complete "Twilight" coverage on Hero Complex

Photo credit: Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (30)

he is hotttt in this picture

Ugh. I hate it when people bash Stephenie Meyer's writing style. She is such a brilliant writer; it's not her fault if some readers don't prefer romance. Some readers just go surface deep.

I skimmed the article, because I always feel like reading reviews sort of taints my own image of the movie. I'm glad it's generally positive, though. But a movie better than the book? I highly doubt it. Twilight the book is magic--all 500 pages of it.

Aren't there any reviews written by a female? That perspective would be appreciated.

Nicole, have you read anything BUT Twilight?

Although I liked the Twilight books, they were fluffy without any real substance. Even romance can be meatier than Meyer's work.

I couldn't even read Twilight; the overuse of adjectives and repetition of words was too much for me. Not to mention, one of the last chapters before I put the book down for good, Bella being attacked by four men and Edward saving her just in the nick of time. Yes, let's all use assault as a plot device and teach young girls to wait on a man to rescue them. The next chapter has her forgetting all about it (PTSD? Why, never!) and focusing all her attention on Edward again. What a stupid book.



i think all the publicity is raising everyone's expectations on how well the movie will be received.

i love the books, but can't help agree with "Poor College Girl".

but having said that, Meyer has said previously that she writes her books for herself...that there is no lesson to be learned, or morals to be had.

from the little snippets of the movie that i've seen...it just makes me cringe.

though the cast is totally hot

i just don't think that the twilight series should be made into movies...every reader has their own imagination and interpretation regarding the book...i don't think anyone could copy that (or all those different types of) imagination into the big-screen.

i do hope the stars survive through all this if it does turn out to be a flop...how ere they to know?...and how would the audience/readers know that nothing could best their imagination until someone tried?

wow was bella ever a snot on the today show this morning!!!! not what i expected of her at all!!! totally unimpressed!!!!
stuck up and not even that pretty of a girl!

Frankly, how many movies are original anyway... most are a re-make of a 50's or 60's movie. As a teacher, I think Stephenie Meyer's style is expressive and fluent. When a reluctant reader gets excited about reading a 700 page novel, you take notice. The trouble with reviews is they aren't formed by an individual with the same philosophy as you... so the interpretation I bring is not going to be the same as anyone else - and that is the way it should be...

frankly i dont understand why ADULTS read this book. Its for teenagers-not for crazy 25-40 year olds that nit pick every little problem in the book. All around this book has captured the minds of non readers and has caused millions of girls and boys alike to fall in love with a romantic novel! I may be a teenager but I understand the message of the story a hell of a lot better then you adults do.

The worst film in movie history. The filmmakers should be ashamed. They deliberately took advantage of their audience and delivered a load of crap because they knew they'd bank. The whole audience was laughing at the film. These were avid Twilight fans who purchased tickets weeks in advance. That should tell you something of its worth.

I'm a mom and my 16 year old daughter made me read "Twilight". I really enjoyed it and went ahead and read the rest. Today, I'm taking her to see the movie. This has been great for the two us. We could talk about the books together and now see the movie together. It gave us something to do together, because it's really hard to connect at this age. So, I suggest all mom's read the books.

Granted, I have read more well-written books, and I am no "book critic" , but I loved Twilight. It was a very easy read, and is one that I always read when I'm feeling down. No, it's not Charles Dickens or Shakespeare, but it is a book that many different types of people will enjoy reading. Boys, girls, women, and men. In my own opinion, a good book is one that is able to draw all people in, and that fascinates people of all ages and types.

I dont know why people who haven't read the books critic
obviously the movie was made for us the fans because we wanted the movie true 2 the book and we got it

and whats best New Moon Is comming for Sure
For tha Haterz!!

Stephenie Meyer wrote a good book and the movie it was good 2

Rob and Kristen Nailed the parts as if they we the true bella and edward
catherine made the movie kinda like it was a real thing like it was something that happens everyday sooooo for those old people who dont like teenage movies dont go watch em

let the teens be the critics they are the ones who knows this book the best and the ones who are gonna show if they like the movie by buying the tickets over and over to see the movie more than once..

In My country not many people know about the book and the theater was full and people where asking and saying they where gonna read the books SOoooo it think it went pretty well and for what i espected it was pretty awsome.....

Hello I am a teen (16) and I really Enjoy the book but the movie was eh okies... i really enjoy the characters but i think they should have choosen people that had read the book and knew what it was about... The only thing is that people have to know is that they are there to watch a movie not a book... zo people shouldnt have expected it to be like the book... I really hope they have success on the rest of the movies cuz i really wanna see BREAKING DAWN.... o.o

I, of course, always think a book is better than the movie. But please, the supporting actors in this film were horrible. I just hope that the sequel will be better. I think Stephanie Meyer's version was much better than the screenwriter, Ms. Rosenburg. The movie was not great so if there is a sequel I hope the is a change in the director and the casting director.

I really enjoy Twilight but the movie waz passable.... like they skippped a lot but i understand it was because of the money but i think they should had put a little more of money so people would be "Twilight was good cant wait for the next one" i heard a lot of my peeps at school and they were like "yeah Hollywood had to ruin the whole story"... my point of view was that like WOW EMMETT Cullen was wow ^.^

The movie was horrible. I read the book and did expect some changes but was very dissapointed. You can't blame the actors. I suggest a new director and new casting director for some of the supporting roles (excluding the Cullen family, that is).

I saw the movie last night and wrote my own review. It's not great but it's not terrible. I did notice that someone wanted to see a review written by a girl so here you go. Just follow the address:


I had no great expectations for the movie. I had little going in and because of the little I went in with, I came out satisfied. Or amused. Sitting through the movie with a friend certainly helps, especially when you point out the flaws, the mistakes and the fantastic stalker moments.
I am a fan of the book, and I constantly ask myself why. It is terrible. The writing is simple and slow. The plot is so predictable, I literally shouted at both book and movie screen 'are you a moron?' The book is written so that until the last 150 pages or so, you need not read it at all. The plot is laid out clearly on the back. It is the same with the movie. Though it is more necessary in the movie than it is in the book, the editing was choppy and it would have been more enjoyable had the director known what she was doing.
I enjoyed the movie, and will suggest that any movie goer go in with little to no expectations for it.That way you will not be disappointed.

Side note: I pity Robert Pattinson at the moment. I was present at ComicCon this july and was so disgusted by the behaviour of every preteen around me. The poor man was nervous as all hell, though that forced his nervous habit to show itself. I pity him not for the preteen fanbase, though that is always terrifying. No, I pity him because he is a versitle actor who will now be rundown in the business like so many others because of this role. Example: Although Mark Hamil does voice acting, should he show his face on the screen (perhaps when he was younger this would apply more) should he show his face, you would not think this character. You would think Luke Skywalker.
I enjoyed both book and movie of Bad mother's handbook, which Pattinson had a small role as love interest Daniel. I am anxiously awaiting the release of How to Be.
I am certain those reading this have no idea what I am talking about. Which is why I pity this actor.

Earlier I put in a comment and left this out from it.
SM cannot write. She is a terrible writer. However, she is a decent STORYTELLER. There is a distinct difference. Should you want some good WRITERS look up Orson Scott Card or Anne McCaffery, two of my favorite sci fi/ fantasy writers.
Or, should you wish to stick to vampires, Anne Rice, though after Memnoch the Devil, her Lestat series takes a tragic turn for the worse.

I went to go see the movie and was devestatingly disapointed. For what was one of the biggest movie attendings Twilight could and should have been a much higher budget film. There was no way to doubt hundreds of people would be waiting in line for hours to see their favorite book take movie form.
In my opinion kristen stuart ruined all that was Bella. I cant read the books now without her monotone voice and dead-pan eyes intruding. But aside from that everyone just looked horrible. All the Cullens who are quite beautiful in real life looked dull and gritty in the movie. And the movie itsefl was horribly organized with major scenes marred by the shortness of time. Over all I'm dissapointed in what used to be my favorite love story.

Calling twilight the best movie ever made! :)
STEPHENIE MEYER is one of the best to write a story of vanpires and love, it was a great movie and it makes me want a vampire of my own!
I can not wait to see the next movies of the series!!!:)

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