First things first - the movie is definately not a patch on the book. This being said I can't quite understand my obsession with all things Twilight, the film being no exception. As each day passes since watching my appreciation for the film grows and grows - so much that I would gladly see it again and again. What makes it so great? Without doubt its the chemistry that the two leads bring to their roles. The scenes in the mid section where they are growing inseparable are beautifully shot and acted with intense passion that you cant help but feel. Furthermore Hardwicke's indie roots shine through on the cinematography and photography. The sets are delicious and the camera lingers in all the right places with a pale tint which only adds to the charm and characterisations. But now for the criticisms and their are many. Stewart at first seemed a little to abraisive to be Bella, but the excellent performance makes you forget this in minutes. As for Pattinson he struggles at first to get to grips with Edwards complexity but after 15mins he fits the role like a perfect glove, so much so that it would be impossible to pciture anyone else playing him. However to knit pick he doesnt quite manage to escalate the angry outbursts to a high enough level (as i imagined from the book). The times when the film irritated me the most was when it veered off track from the book. This may be because the book was so fresh in my mind, but for the most part I failed to see the gains from the changes, meerly seeing instead how the changes made the film story easier to tell. Similarly the whole thing at times seemed a bit rushed with the characters chucking in lines from the book left right and center to get them out there.
Scenes working particularly well included the ball game, the initial car crash and of course the meadow and bedroom scenes (excluding the pathetic attempt at shimmering skin!). On the flipside the introduction of the Cullen family at Edward's house was poorly handled and overtly camp. In fact the casting of the female Cullen's was particularly odd and uninspiring.
So whats the bottom line? I think the best way is to copy what many other critics have said. This film will not do much for those who havent read the book, coming off as distinctly average. The leads are great and what keep it watchable, but the film making and some support cast just aren't competent enough for a film of such high demands. For readers of the book, allow the film to get under your skin, relish in the beauty of Forks and the cast, and find delight in the all to brief references to the book.
I almost wish it had been split into two films or an even longer epic -- allowing the story to breathe more and impregnate viewers' minds.
As for New Moon lets hope the new director can avoid the mistakes he made with The Golden Compass and not let the tight deadline overwhelm him.