You can almost feel the anticipation in the air for "Twilight." Fans have devoured the novels by Stephenie Meyer with a blood lust. They also have burned up the Internet with good and bad comments.
Now the speculation can end. The fans can see what director Catherine Hardwicke has done to their beloved book.
Stop worrying. Hardwicke's is a very loyal big-screen version of the lengthy book. A few minor scenes have been deleted. A couple of sequences got condensed. But overall, the film unfolds the same way the pages turn.
That's not necessarily a great thing. More on that later.
Hardwicke tenderly builds the love story of the emotionally lost Bella (Kristen Stewart) and BVOC (Big Vampire On Campus) Edward (Robert Pattinson). Their relationship develops under cloudy skies. That's not being metaphorical. It seems vampires have blingish skin that sparkles in direct sunlight.
Meyer's book is divided into two distinct parts. The first three-quarters depicts the growing relationship between the two. He meets her family. She meets his vegetarian (they drink only animal blood) vampire family. They go to school. They date. And eventually Edward overcomes his deep desire to drain her blood so they can be the ultimate star-crossed lovers.
The action picks up in the last fourth of the book, when Bella becomes the blue-plate special for a group of vampires who prefer to dine from the human menu.
Hardwicke's biggest change of direction from the book is to sprinkle some of the action through the early part of the film. Purists may beat their chests. But it does make the film move at a better pace. And it should be more appealing to the male dates who have agreed to sit through "Twilight."
Debates have raged over the casting of Pattinson and Stewart, but their work should silence many of the critics. Pattinson makes brooding a science. And Stewart finds the right blend of strength and vulnerability to play Bella.
The supporting cast is strong, especially Nikki Reed as the headstrong Rosalie and Rachelle Lefevre as Victoria. And the non-vampire high school students are the best supporting cast in a vampire tale since the days of "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer."
And now for the problem of making such a loyal adaptation: The special abilities of the vampires, such as super speed, looks gimmicky. Scenes in which Edward races or flies through the forest come across as bad puppet theater. And there is something about the pale skin of the vampires that seems less bland in the book.
These are relatively small flaws in what is a production that should soothe the savage "Twilight" beasts.
Much of what made the relationship between Edward and the smitten Bella Swan work in Meyer's breezy book has been stripped away on screen. The funny, lively banter - the way in which Edward and Bella teased and toyed with one another about their respective immortality and humanity - is pretty much completely gone, and all that's left is a slog of adolescent angst.
- CHRISTY LEMIRE
The relationship at the heart of the film has heat, but Stewart isn't up to delivering the "I'll just die" longing that we all feel at that age. And the effects that show Edward's speed are cut-rate comical.
- ROGER MOORE