“Twilight Saga,” Stephanie Meyer’s fang-and-blood series of four best-selling young-adult books, tells the mushy tale of Isabella “Bella” Swan (Kristen Stewart), a shy, sensitive adolescent teenager who falls in love with her chemistry lab partner, mysterious Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson, familiar to Harry Potter fans as Cedric Diggory), a broodingly handsome vampire who restrains his sinister urge to nibble on her pale neck and protects her against his more treacherous, nomadic brethren.
In the tiny town of Forks in cloudy, misty Washington State, there’s a cult of sun-shirking vampires – headed by Dr. Carlisle Cullen (Peter Facinelli) – living among humans but not preying on them, sustaining themselves as “vegetarians.” But Bella falls so deeply in love with icy-cold, baseball-loving Edward that she doesn’t care if she becomes one of the Undead. That makes for a dangerously alluring concept, not unlike “Romeo and Juliet” and “Titanic.”
Adapted by Melissa Rosenberg, it’s faithful to its source blend of vampire and supernatural conventions mixed with high-school clique-angst and laughable dialogue, even though director Catherine Hardwicke (“The Nativity Story,””Thirteen,””Lords of Dogtown”) has cinematically expanded the earnest narrative. Like earthy Bella doesn’t learn about pallid Edward’s lineage while they’re sitting in a car; instead they’re swooning amongst trees in a lush forest – with credit going to cinematographer Elliot Davis.
The rocked-out soundtrack is already hit #1 on the Billboard chart and Summit Entertainment has sewn up rights to “New Moon” and “Eclipse,” the second and third book in Ms. Meyer’s series, so this is just the first of a future franchise.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Twilight” is a youth-targeted, seductively supernatural if unevenly paced 6. But with all the big-buzz blood lust, the shiver may seem a trifle anemic.