'Twilight' a thrill for book's fans

Posted: Thursday, November 27, 2008

Let's begin by catching you up with the necessary 411: Stephenie Meyer is the author responsible for the squeals of joy you hear coming from the local movie theater - squeals coming from the 13-year-old girls who are thrilled beyond words that Meyer's "Twilight" has officially gone from novel to film.

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So what's all the teenage fuss about? Meyer wrote a four-book series about vampires, werewolves and, most importantly, high-school romance. Meyer's series has sold more than 25 million books worldwide so far, and "Twilight" exploded into theaters last weekend with a $70 million debut.

Indeed, if you haven't heard of "Twilight" yet you might as well educate yourself because it is officially a big-time movie franchise now and there are still three installments to come.

The characters are many in Meyer's series, and more are added with each book, but for "Twilight" it is actually fairly simple: Bella and Edward. Bella (Kristen Stewart) is a high-school junior who has just moved from Phoenix to a tiny Washington state town called Forks. Edward (Robert Pattinson) lives with his family in Forks but, ah, he and his family aren't exactly run-of-the-mill. What they are is pale-skinned, abnormally good-looking, cold to the touch, freakishly fast, ridiculously strong ... there was one more thing. What was it?

Oh, right: They fancy human blood.

There is really no way to say this next part without sounding a little loopy, so here it is: Bella and Edward fall deeply, irrevocably in love. If you're thinking that this young love might cause some problems, you get a gold star.

That's the gist of "Twilight." As the books - the sequel has already been green-lighted, by the way - continue, a lot of wild stuff happens, but at its core the series is always about Bella and Edward. For this movie specifically, though, it's about meeting all the key players. There's Bella's awkward, caring father Charlie (Billy Burke), Edward's family of fellow vamps, the normal (as in human) high-school kids, and the villain vampire James (Cam Gigandet).

As someone who accidentally stumbled into the novels just to humor the special lady in his life, "Twilight" was like reliving the first book. I felt downright giddy remembering things as they happened, or were about to, and seeing things I'd pictured in my head as I read actually come to life was a pleasure. I even found myself enjoying the hysteria of the theater full of hyper teens, clapping and hooting as favorite characters debuted on screen. It was fun!

On the other hand, it was easy to spot the middle-aged couple that obviously hadn't read the books as they stumbled their way toward the exit about halfway through. Quite simply, if you haven't read the books - and especially if you're past your mid-20s - "Twilight" is not for you.

That said, director Catherine Hardwicke did a fine job creating the world of "Twilight" and an excellent job building the tension and subsequent intense connection between Bella and Edward. Cinematographer Elliot Davis photographed the Pacific Northwest with all of its mist, rain and lush green foliage in a way that made me miss it even more than usual. And the cast is on point.

"Twilight" was two hours long, but I think I speak on behalf of teenage girls everywhere (that's right, I said it) when I say I would have happily remained seated for another six hours to see the next three chapters.

• Check out Carson's movie blog at www.juneaublogger.com/movies.

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