It is nearly impossible for a movie based on a book with such a loyal (and sometimes obsessed) following to live up to expectations, unless they’re kept low. If you wisely did this, then the film fairs as an adequate adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s book.
Bella Swan’s (Kristen Stewart) mom recently remarried; so to give the newlyweds some alone time, she grudgingly decides to trade the warm, sunny climate of Phoenix for the cloudy, rainy surroundings of Forks, Washington to live with her father (Billy Burke). With such a small population, everyone quickly takes notice of the new girl and Bella instantly has a group of new friends – everyone except the Cullens. The Cullens mostly keep to themselves but Bella finds herself drawn to Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) despite the strange way he acts around her. He soon reveals a similar attraction, only his desires are more dangerous than she expected. Bella is eventually welcomed into their vampire family but there are other vampires not as willing to tolerate the unprecedented relationship.
Even at two hours, Bella and Edward’s courtship is incredibly short. Several of the scenes are combined and they fast track to an intensely reciprocal relationship so the danger presented by the nomad vampires is substantiated. Of course, these adjustments (however unwelcome) were expected and the feelings between the characters are still expressed well enough. On the other hand, the change in tone of two very meaningful moments in the novel is more than irritating.
The casting of the already loved and imagined characters is acceptable. Stewart conveys the vulnerability of Bella, as well as her powerful and unforeseen attraction to Edward. Pattinson is both good-looking and comes across slightly dangerous; although the pain caused by his uncontrollable draw to Bella is not always convincingly portrayed. Conversely, his smile is fittingly breathtaking. Luckily, their on-screen chemistry is tangible. The rest of the Cullens are also represented well, especially Alice (Ashley Greene). And Jacob (Taylor Lautner) has a sweet, adorable face as expected. On the other side of the vampire divide, Cam Gigandet provides a very menacing take on James and Rachelle Lefevre is a more subtly deadly Victoria.
Unfortunately, few of the effects really work. Filmmakers used a lot of wirework to communicate the vampires’ special abilities but the Crouching Tiger-look does not really work for this story.
The two-disc special edition has quite a few bonus features. The first disc includes music videos from Muse, Paramore and Linkin Park with introductions by director Catherine Hardwicke. The five extended scenes also include introductions from Hardwicke; for some of them, that bit of extra in the scene would have been great additions to the film. The audio commentary by Hardwicke, Stewart and Pattinson reveals a lot of personal anecdotes but is not as noteworthy as one would have hoped.
The second disc contains five deleted scenes, each with an introduction by Hardwicke; these omissions are more interesting and some are even scenes straight out of the book. A nearly hour-long documentary details the shooting of most of the significant scenes in the film, interviewing various members of the cast and crew throughout; it also shows how the special effects were achieved in the baseball and final fight sequences. The cast’s appearance at Comic-Con is also included, and the teaser they showed there is in the trailers section – does Stewart always look so uncomfortable during public appearances?