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Twilight - US box office strong, reviews mixed


Story by Jack Foley

TWILIGHT may be well on its way to becoming the US box office sensation of the winter season, but critics have so far been divided over its merits.

According to opening day estimates from the States, the film adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s vampire-romance saga took a massive $7 million from its midnight shows on Thursday (November 20, 2008), and was on course to take as much as $30 million on Friday.

If that is realised, the film could easily find itself among the top 20 biggest opening-day grosses in history, and easily surpassing the $60-million-plus first weekend figures that are being predicted.

For anyone that doesn’t already know, Twilight is an action-packed, modern-day love story between a teenage girl (played by Kristen Stewart) and a vampire (played by Robert Pattinson).

Critics, however, have greeted the film with only a lukewarm response.

Revered movie critic Roger Ebert, of The Chicago Sun-Times said: “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.”

While Hollywood Reporter described it as “an underwhelming vampire romance long on camp but short on emotional insight”. Variety, meanwhile, felt that it was “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”.

There were some positives, however. Time Magazine opined that “it rekindles the warmth of great Hollywood romances, where foreplay was the climax and a kiss was never just a kiss”.

And The Washington Post wrote: “Twilight works as both love story and vampire story, thanks mainly to the performances of its principals.”

Entertainment Weekly was also a fan, writing: “Hardwicke stirs this teen pulp to a pleasing simmer.”

But USA Today stated that “Meyer is said to have been involved in the production of Twilight, but her novel was substantially more absorbing than the unintentionally funny and quickly forgettable film”.

And Rolling Stone rounds off this overview with the comment: “My advice: Focus on Pattinson and Stewart. They make you understand why the books sold 17 million copies”

Twilight opens in UK cinemas on December 19, 2008.