Some will find it all too polite, but compared to rival blockbuster exercises in explosive CGI mayhem, its character-based index of longing and protectiveness at least provides a viable alternative moodscape.
Twilight is, by its very nature, all about unfinished business, the story of a brooding, caring romantic hero and the woman who cannot -- although she wants to -- yield to him. Only his eyes penetrate her. For now, that's enough.
Gothic wooziness stifles many of Hardwicke's lighter impulses, such as her knack for jiving humor in scenes among friends and family. And some of the more cartoonishly gymnastic CG stunts look plain silly.
Twilight is often a lot of fun to watch -- the atmosphere of wet green trees and subtle danger, the gothic breathiness of doomed romance, the way all the vampires have better hair than anyone else -- and seems to give its intended audience what it wants.
Twilight will doubtless thrill fans of the books, who have long waited for its release. And while it's not a failure, everyone else will wish that the film had, if you'll excuse the expression, a little more bite.
The movie was directed by Catherine Hardwicke. She uses her great discovery, Nikki Reed, in the role of the beautiful Rosalie Hale. Reed wrote Hardwick's Thirteen when she was only 14. That was a movie that knew a lot more about teenage girls.
A disappointingly anemic tale of forbidden love that should satiate the pre-converted but will bewilder and underwhelm viewers who haven't devoured Stephenie Meyer's bestselling juvie chick-lit franchise.