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After Bella Swan is sent to live with her father, she falls for the intriguing Edward Cullen, who she discovers is a vampire.
For more about Twilight and the Twilight Blu-ray release, see Twilight Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on March 20, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Cam Gigandet
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
» See full cast & crew
Twilight Blu-ray Review
The best-selling book bites into the big screen with surprisingly good results.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, March 20, 2009
What if I'm not the hero. What if I'm the bad guy?
Author Stephenie Meyer's Twilight is a phenomenon. It's big. Really big. Harry Potter big? Maybe not quite, but it's huge. Never heard of it? Ask a high school girl. Chances are she's been lugging around a well-worn copy of the book for months, perhaps even toting one or two or three of its sequels along for the ride. "Edward" has replaced the name of that oh-so-handsome boy sitting across the cafeteria when it comes time to gossip about the latest relationships; "Bella" is the kind of girl that would make for such a great friend; and "Vampire" now means more than a black-and-white Bela Lugosi gazing into living rooms around the world. It's a hit, all right, and when a mega-property finds itself the object of affection of the teenage girl community, a movie can't be far behind. Indeed, Twilight is now a major motion picture, and a surprisingly good one at that. It's far better than one might expect, given not the popularity of the books but instead the demographics of its target audience. It's more mature, sincere, and intense than other material aimed at that same audience. Twilight leads one to care for its characters, ponder what's truly in their best interest, and fall for the intrigue of its story. It's a love story, and something of a traditional one at that, built around the familiar refrain of loving that which cannot be loved. It offers little new in either its romance or its take on Vampire lore, but the story nevertheless manages to mesmerize at best and hold one's attention at worst, and may even arouse one's interest just enough to get hooked on the series.
High school junior Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) moves from the loving arms of her mother (Sarah Clarke) and the heat of Arizona to live with her protective father (Billy Burke) in overcast and rainy Forks, Washington, population 3,120. She's something of a loner, the new girl, and the daughter of the town sheriff, a combination not likely to win her many friends. She manages a few acquaintances that show her the ropes of high school life in a wet small town, including answering her questions about the mysterious Cullen family, themselves outcasts and loners. Bella quickly falls under the spell of the handsome Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), but when she is assigned a seat next to him in Biology class, he seems repulsed at her very presence, going so far as to ask for a transfer to another class immediately thereafter. His request is denied, and he vanishes from school for several days. When he returns a calmer, more personable individual, he takes a liking to Bella. Their relationship becomes strained when Edward saves Bella from an out-of-control vehicle, the boy seemingly appearing out of thin air and stopping the car with his arm. Edward fails to disclose the details of his heroism, straining their burgeoning relationship. Nevertheless, Bella remains intrigued, and when Edward once again saves her, he reveals enough to allow her to deduce that he is more than a handsome 17-year-old -- he's a vampire.
Twilight is something like a modernized version The Lost Boys with a touch of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" but with less elements of Horror and Comedy and more in the way of Fantasy. However, it offers that same basic premise of a mortal falling in love with an immortal creature of the night. Here, that creature doesn't necessarily despise what he is, but instead controls his emotions and instincts for the sake of humanity, much like the Buffy-Angel relationship. It's merely unfortunate that the girl Edward loves in Twilight smells like a juicy top sirloin steak fresh off the grill. Twilight is also a true three-act film with three distinct segments that evolve one from another, expertly developing its characters while simultaneously weaving its story. The first act introduces the players and hints at the struggles they will face through the remainder of the film. The second introduces the villains and sees the blossoming of love, a love hindered by the baggage each character brings to the relationship. Act three sees the climactic action sequence that further challenges the wants and needs of the characters and provides the ultimate test of strength, both physical and emotional, to overcome the hardships of the story -- both from within and externally. Indeed, Twilight is nothing but straight formula, but it embraces and works within the formula so well that it seems far fresher and novel than it truly is.
Twilight is a well-crafted film not only on paper but on celluloid, too. Director Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen) lends to the film a mystical quality thanks to its subdued, cold look that greatly enhances both the characters and the theme of difficult and forbidden love, a love that wants only to conquer boundaries. Twilight also enjoys a fine score courtesy of Carter Burwell (No Country for Old Men) that mixes a modern hard-rock feel with something of an evil, foreboding tone. The refrain that plays time and again throughout the film is particularly mesmerizing, and it seems to fit perfectly in every scene in which it is heard, no matter the place in the story or the tone of the scene. Where Twilight seems to truly shine is in the better-than-expected performances of its two lead characters. Kristen Stewart lends to Bella Swan an innocence that humanizes the character. She's something of an every girl, not too glamorous but not too homely, not too rich and not too poor, not too extroverted but not completely introverted, either. She plays the part very well, beginning as a confident but also somewhat frightened girl who becomes at first intrigued and, eventually, in love, with a mysterious individual. Her progression is natural enough, perhaps a bit rough around the edges and not as fully developed as one might like thanks to the time constraints of the film, but Stewart understands the character and both her struggle with her emotional state and the complexities of her blossoming romance well. Robert Pattinson's portrayal of Edward Cullen is also a step above. What could have been a stereotyped character is given a soul, even if his undead body may or may not even have one. He's steadfast in his beliefs but retains a strong posture when Bella enters his life and he pieces together the possibilities, balancing the positives and negatives of inviting her into his complex existence. Pattinson recalls both James Van Der Beek and Hayden Christiansen, but his performance bests either of those actors' efforts to date.
Twilight Blu-ray, Video Quality
Twilight debuts on Blu-ray with a high quality 1080p transfer framed in its theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This is a transfer that gives some of the very best Blu-ray discs a run for their money. Colors are natural and not overblown; the image tends to look a bit dreary throughout thanks to the overcast conditions of Forks, Washington, not to mention an inherently bleak appearance with something of a steely, bluish tint. There is plenty of detail to be found in most every scene, no matter how dull the image may naturally be. Whether seeing the stitches on Bella's jacket, the finer details of the school's gymnasium, minute textures on some faces, or the objects scattered about a table during a gun cleaning session, the image never fails to showcase the finer qualities of the objects in-frame. On the other hand, both Bella's and the vampire's faces look incredibly pale and lifeless, but again, this is a case where ghastly flesh tones represent an accurate reproduction of the intended look. There is hardly a rosy cheek to be seen in the film, nor an overly bright color. About the closest thing to "bright" may be Bella's old copper-colored Chevy pick-up truck and some green foliage. Black levels are consistently deep and natural. Film grain is present over the entirety of the picture, though never so heavily as to become a distraction. It does lend to the film a nice-looking theatrical quality. There are no discernible blemishes to be seen over the print. Twilight, despite its bleak look, appears as intended and is of reference-grade quality on Blu-ray.
Twilight Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Twilight features a robust DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. The track makes consistently excellent use of the entire soundstage, featuring loud yet precise sound effects and music that spreads out all around the listening area. Surround speakers often come into play in support of the music and effects, generally supporting the action up-front but sometimes offering discrete sounds. These include several instances of fine atmospherics, such as a rainstorm as heard in chapter two, or a seaside scene in chapter five that does nice to engulf the listener in the scene, creating a good atmosphere where seagulls and rushing water come through with nice clarity. Bass is quite powerful during the film's baseball sequence and climactic confrontation. Dialogue is strong, clear, and crisply delivered. Twilight makes for an above-average listen, and the lossless soundtrack supports the top-notch visuals and themes of the film very well.
Twilight Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Twilight offers viewers the opportunity to learn more about the film via the inclusion of several bonus features. First up is a feature-length commentary track with Director Catherine Hardwicke and Actors Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. Unfortunately, the track offers no real flow, with just tidbits of random information scattered here and there. It's an odd mixture of worthwhile information and generally uninteresting anecdotes from the set. The Adventure Begins: The Journey From Page to Screen is a Blu-ray profile 1.1 picture-in-picture feature that is also available separately from the film in full-screen 1080p video with a combined runtime of 54:29. The piece begins with Author Stephenie Meyer discussing the origins of the story and a look at the lengthy process of converting the printed word to the big screen. The piece examines the casting and the previsualization computer work, discusses the world of the Cullen family, looks at the creation of the baseball sequence, and more. This is a generally engaging piece that is far more informative and user-friendly than the commentary track. The Comic-Con Phenomenon (480p, 7:58) takes viewers into the wild world of Twilight fandom. Also included are three music videos -- "Supermassive Black Hole" by Muse (1080i, 4:58), "Decode" by Paramore (1080i, 5:09), and "Leave Out All the Rest" by Linkin Park (1080i, 3:35). Five extended scenes (1080p, 9:36) and five deleted scenes (1080p, 5:54) are next. Concluding the special features is BD-Live (Blu-ray profile 2.0) functionality and five pieces of the "theatrical campaign" -- Sneak Peek as Seen on 'Penelope' DVD (1080p, 3:22), Comic-Con New York Sneak Peek (1080p, 4:22), two teaser trailers (1080p, 0:58 & 1:15) and the film's theatrical trailer (1080p, 2:23).
Twilight Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Twilight is a far better movie than many may have expected. Despite its construction around the basics of romance and vampire lore, not to mention its strict adherence to a basic three-act story, it feels incredibly fresh and remains engaging from beginning to end. The film develops its characters very well, aided by a pair of above-average performances from Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. Twilight also features steady direction, fascinating visuals, and a consistently fine score. It's no surprise that the film's built-in audience devoured it in droves, but Twilight is worth sinking the teeth into for those unfamiliar with the books, too. Twilight is a surprisingly effective and gripping film that offers up just the right doses of suspense, action, horror, drama, and, of course, romance, the end result a film that far surpasses expectations and might just mean the addition of four new books to the library. Summit Entertainment's Blu-ray release of Twilight is exceptional. The disc boasts high quality video and audio presentations in addition to a nice selection of bonus features. Fans and newcomers alike should have no reservations about making a date with Twilight on Blu-ray. Recommended.
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