Tue. Mar 21st, 2023

‘Twilight,” aka “I kissed an Abercrombie & Fitch bloodsucker and I liked it,” should be slapped with a special parental warning: Drop the kid off at the cineplex, then flee like a vampire dreading daylight.Should you stay with your tween for the laborious adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s best-selling novel, find comfort in the fact that you won’t be suffering alone or in silence. Just be prepared to squirm at the overinflated running time (2 hours!), to jump in your seat at ear-piercing squeals whenever a pretty boy appears, and to giggle at the surround-sound sighs when the love-bitten Bella (Kristen Stewart) and the love-biter Edward (Robert Pattinson) first smooch.

Let’s be fair, though. “Twilight” isn’t intended for adults, and it’s surely not meant for me, a middle-aged guy who does appreciate pretty things, romantic movies, vampires, and a good movie.

“Twilight” is not a good movie.

Like the astronomically successful vampire novel series it’s based on, “Twilight” punches all the right buttons for a tween audience, but it’s simply not executed with enough finesse, polish or soul.

There’s the lonely, mildly depressed heroine named Bella who relocates from sunny Arizona to rainy Washington so she can live with her laconic dad (Billy Burke).

There’s Edward, the mysterious ash-white vampire with chiseled cheekbones, smoldering eyes and the best hair stylist in the Northwest.

There’s Jacob (Taylor Lautner), the strapping lad with wolflike tendencies, long raven hair and a killer smile. (Dump the vamp, go for him, girl!) And, deployed almost like an afterthought, there are the underdeveloped villains, a trio of vampires who resemble Ziggy Stardust rejects in Renaissance Faire outfits.

These wannabe baddies hardly make your blood curdle, but they sure are cute.

Director Catherine Hardwicke (“Thirteen”) traps herself and the audience by spending most of her time on the intense, lusty stare-downs between the two leads, along with the intermittent breast-heaves by Stewart. Enough already.

Hardwicke and her actors nearly implore us to feel this duo’s tormented love. She frames too many scenes in extreme close-ups, the kind where a mere eye twitch can register like an earthquake.

It takes refined acting and directing to pull off, and while Hardwicke handles the scenes adequately, the pained looks by Pattinson get tiresome.

Pattinson and Stewart do fare well with the star-crossed-lovers bit early on, including one funny sequence in a biology class, but the strain to show this magnitude-8 attraction starts to show 10 minutes in, and the romance eventually burns itself out.

Pattinson, quite good as Cedric in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” poses, preens and pouts, while reciting his lines with the odd, stilted cadence of Christopher Walken. Stewart (“Into the Wild”) fares slightly better, except for an embarrassingly bad crying jag.

A heart does beat in “Twilight,” but it’s only faintly heard, and it’s buried among the montage shots and cheesy special effects.

Hardwicke and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg (“Step Up”) unwisely barrel through what should have been the most intimate part of the movie, the first time Edward spends a chaste night in Bella’s room. By sidestepping this pivotal sequence, we’re robbed of what we really came for, watching and hearing these lovebirds reveal themselves to each other.

Without that, the audience is left with just a whole lot of pretty and not enough soul.

Not entirely a bad thing, but you can get that fix by thumbing through an Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue.

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