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Movie Reviews
by Todd Pearage

Twilight (3/21/2009)

Rated PG-13 for some violence and a scene of sensuality.

Directed by Catherine Hardwicke (The Nativity, Lords of Dogtown and Thirteen)

Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, Nikki Reed…

Todd's Rating: Theatre Worthy

Based on the #1 New York Times Best-Selling series with over 17 million books in print by Stephenie Meyer, Twilight is a youth cultural phenomenon. With millions of dedicated fans (just ask my wife who braved the midnight showing on one of the five sold-out showings), over 350 fan sites and numerous awards (the New York Times Editor's Choice, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, Amazon's "Best Book of the Decade...So Far", Teen People's "Hot List" Pick, and The American Library Association's "Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults" and "Top Ten Books for Reluctant Readers," among others), Twilight has left its mark.

Twilight is the action-packed, modern-day love story between a teenage girl and a vampire. Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) has always been a little bit different, never caring about fitting in with the trendy girls at her Phoenix high school. When her mother re-marries and sends Bella to live with her father in the rainy little town of Forks, Washington, she doesn't expect much of anything to change. Then she meets Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) who happens to be a vampire. Different from almost every vampire (no fangs, he walks around during the day and his family does not drink human blood), Edward is intelligent and witty and completely smitten with Bella. Soon, they are swept up in a passionate romance, but the closer they get, the more Edward struggles to resist his instinct, which could send him into an uncontrollable frenzy. And with a few new visitors, Forks, Washington just turned into a battleground.

My wife read the first four books in four weeks; I knew the movie was coming out so I decided to skip that impossible task. So admittedly, I am at a disadvantage. It seems that some of these die hard Twilight book fans are upset about the film’s casting choices, others about what was left out, etc. Let me be clear: I’m writing a movie review about the movie.

O.K., first of all I did not scream, squeal or swoon when Edward walks on screen (unlike the overwhelming majority of the theater). But I will say this, vampires haven’t been this cool since the original Lost Boys film. The music and slow motion shot every time one enters a room doesn’t hurt either.

It wasn’t just the entrances; I loved how they filmed the entire movie. It had it all- flashback origins story, slow motion, close-ups, sweeping panoramic and a few scary fast-paced shots. Director Catherine Hardwicke has an eye for detail. I know I missed so much of the The Nativity the first time through because I was amazed at the clothing, the food etc. She brings that same eye to Twilight.

I loved the modern day Romeo and Juliet forbidden love story, I loved that they didn’t go places they could have, and I loved how there were clearly defined good guys and bad guys. The main characters are not terribly flawed or hypocritical; they have a moral code and sacrifice temporal happiness for that code. In reality, the only flawed character is Bella’s mom, who left her husband, remarried a baseball player and warns Bella to be “safe” when they are talking about Edward.

As far as the cast goes, they are perfect. And although my favorite is Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) with his wide-eyed-always in pain look, everyone delivers top quality performances.

There has been so much hype over these books and now the movie, my thought is: Twilight lives up to the hype…it is so “Theater Worthy.”

This just may be the most controversial question in youth culture right now. Just this morning on a Christian radio broadcast I heard a woman give the old bottle of water and dog poop analogy, asking how much dog poop does it take to ruin the bottle of water? For more on concerns with the film and a chance for you to respond, check out the Youth Culture Window article about Twilight and Jonathan’s Blog on the subject.

I really only found one concern: the sensuality. A very vulnerable young girl is sneaking around with a guy, lying on her bed in her underwear with him, and kissing him. The snuggling stops right there- so you decide if that’s a good message or not. (Is it good that the film has no sex? Or does the film mislead audiences that snuggling in your undies is harmless? Kids are hearing a lot of mixed messages right now. Trojan’s campaign seems to hint that sex is unavoidable and protection is the only answer. Who is right? ... or are both messages misleading?) Regardless, these are discussions that you want to have with your kids.

Besides that, I found very little offensive material in Twilight. In fact, I found plenty of things to praise about it. Issues like self-control, family, loyalty and sacrifice are all strongly expressed and should lead to some dynamic conversations. I would encourage preteens to stay away just yet, but I wouldn’t hesitate seeing it with a teenager and talking about it afterwards.

Conversation Starter
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):

  1. What are some of the messages or themes you observed in this movie?

  2. How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to this movie?

  3. How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this movie to actually living out those opinions?

Todd Pearage Todd Pearage is a movie buff at heart, but he's not your traditional film critic. Todd is a blue collar film geek, from his job years ago at Blockbuster to his heartfelt online movie reviews. But Todd isn't just a film geek. He has worked with middle and high school students since 1991 as a youth pastor and is currently on staff at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Todd and his wife Lynda have three children, Brianna, Caleb and Addyson.

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