Year: 2008
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Writer: Melissa Rosenberg/Stephanie Meyer
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene, Anna Kendrick, Nikki Reed, Billy Burke

What do teenage girls fantasise about more than anything? To be the cool, misunderstood outsider, to meet the boy of their dreams, for him to be supernaturally good looking and caring toward her and to have hot guys argue over her. Teenage girls aren't interested in vampires who rip the throats out of  virgins and bathe in their blood, they're interested in ones who glisten in the sunlight like pieces of pretty jewellery.

Stephanie Meyer might have made her fortune out of the phenomenally successful series by check boxing what (young) women want, but nobody could say she didn't do it properly. Word of mouth the likes of which Hollywood aches for in its fevered dreams did the rest for the books and the inevitable movie.

So any criticism about the wonky effects like Edward (Pattinson) running up the hill with Bella (Stewart) on his back or the fake-looking werewolves is almost pointless. This was always going to be not just a critic-proof but a criticism-proof movie. The studio knew they could employ cheap actors who couldn't act very well (although despite Pattinson's two dimensional acting, Stewart shows flashes of talent that could take her far) and didn't have to spend much on effects. The name of the film would bring them in faster than they could cook the popcorn.

I sometimes start talking about the plot by saying 'if you don't know this you've been living under a rock', but in this case I think there are a lot of people who don't know the actual story, either because they refuse to know or pretend not to know. Pretty, smart, withdrawn Bella moves to a far north US town to live with her father and immediately falls for pale, brooding classmate Edward.

Edward seems drawn to her too but doesn't want anything to do with her, and Bella soon learns the reason is because his 'family' are really a coven of good-natured vampires who don't kill people but hunt for food in the forests around the town, and he knows there's no future for her with a 100 year old undead monster.

Bella's also drawn to a kid from the local Native American reservation, Jacob (Lautner), part of a coven of werewolves who can change at will and who hate the local vampires, sharing an uneasy truce with them.

Finer points of the story like the red headed enemy of the clan were lost on me - I'm happy to admit I was too busy trying to be cynical about it. But despite what you've heard and as tempting as it is to rubbish something just because it's astronomically popular, there are far worse stories on screens with less competent direction and acting. If you still feel silly, just convince yourself it's part of your ongoing screen education.

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