Miracle in a Dry Season    Dangerous Passage


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The Advocate



Reviewed by Thomas Phillips

"By the end, I wished New Moon was about to hit theaters because I wanted more …"

This past July I was in a small-town independent bookstore doing a signing when I noticed a book-dump display for Stephenie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn. I noticed flyers up all over the store advertising the previous night’s release party. It’s fair to say I’ve been living under a rock the last four years, because I had never before heard of Meyer, and knew nothing about her best-selling vampire series. Making the mistake of asking the proprietor what all the fuss was about—I got an earful. Not just from the store’s owner, but from two teenage girls clutching newly purchased copies of Breaking Dawn. Quickly, I became educated on the epidemic known as The Twilight Series.

Despite the books having been written and geared toward teen females, at the end of my signing I bought the first book in the series, Twilight. I then learned that this novel would be a major motion film in the late fall. When I got home, I was anxious to start reading and assess what all the fuss was really about. And by the end of the second chapter – I knew. I was hooked. I devoured Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn in weeks. After reading something like 2,800 pages combined, I was primed, ready, and anxious for the anticipated release of Twilight the movie.

Although the movie opened the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, I made plans to take my kids to see the film on the Friday after the holiday. Lines were long. We were early. The feature was showing in multiple theaters at the complex. With seats in the center top rows, my kids and I settled in. And before long, the movie started.

Bella Swan makes the decision to move from Phoenix, where she lived with her mother and step-father, to the small town of Forks in Washington in order to live with her dad. Bella is sure the constant gray sky, and dismal weather—not to mention a town with a mere two-thousand plus population—will hold little besides the promise of boredom.

Starting at a new school in the middle of a semester, Bella begins to wonder if the move had been a wise choice. However, the teen is immediately drawn to the school’s most attractive and most odd student. Edward Cullen. Bella’s constant clumsiness and unfortunate luck forces Edward to step out of school-boy character. The transformation isn’t lost on Bella, and only leaves her desperate for answers—answers that Edward isn’t ready to provide.

As their odd friendship grows, Bella decidedly confronts Edward with her perception of truth. In love with Bella, Edward allows his secret to be revealed. He and his “family” are vampires. With skeletons out of the closet, Edward’s family—some willingly, some reluctantly—agree to include Bella as part of the family. This inclusion becomes dangerous, not only to Bella, but to Bella’s father and the other people residing in Forks.

When a wandering group of vampires steps on Forks territory, Bella’s scent is picked-up, and the hunt begins. Determined to protect Bella, Edward and his family rally, devising a plan that to save the human girl. But if it fails …

The screenplay kept pretty true to the novel, a rarity, no doubt. The parts that were altered, or changed made sense for the purpose of moving the movie along. These changes and tweaks were minor, and for the most part, unnoticeable I’d imagine—accept to, maybe, die-hard Stephenie Meyer fans.

Although a better part of the first two thirds of the film is character development, and no real excitement happens until the end, the movie is not slow. The two hours fly by. Just enough humor peppers the otherwise dark and dreary over and undertones that are the foundation for the tale. Some of the humor is subtle and sarcastic—like while Bella’s father, who is the sheriff in town, cleans his gun, he drinks alcohol.

I must admit the casting of roles was kind of iffy for me. Kristen Stewart from Jumper and The Messengers, was an excellent choice for the lead role of Bella Swan. Undeniably cute, and intense, her performance and physical features matched the Bella I’d created in my head while reading the book. Likewise I found Billy Burke (of Untraceable and Fracture) as Bella’s father, Charlie Swan pretty right on. And I thought Taylor Lautner who plays Jack Spivey on My Own Worst Enemy, was an excellent Jacob Black—despite the small role in this first installment (a role that will grow as the next three books are made into major motion pictures, no doubt). The antagonist, James, portrayed by Cam Gigandet (of Never Back Down and the TV show The O.C.), did a great job at playing an evil vampire.

While I didn’t have anything against the acting ability of the other performers, accepting Kellen Lutz (of Prom Night—the remake, and George Evans on the TV show 90210—the remake) as Emmet Cullen didn’t work for me, nor did Robert Pattinson (perhaps best known for his role as Cedric Diggory on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) as Edward Cullen. While Evans seemed just too young, Pattinson seemed just too old.

The amazing cinematography and wonderful soundtrack luckily provide a security net for the prehistoric special effects, which are oftentimes to the point of down-right-goofy, and the sole cause for laughter when nothing else is apparently funny. Music fans will surely enjoy tunes from the likes of Linkin Park, Paramore and Collective Soul, and the Washington scenery is undeniably breathtaking.

The PG-13 rating was cast due to a serious and passionate kiss shared by Bella and Edward while alone in the young teen’s bedroom. Bella is dressed in a tank top and high cut panties. Although Edward cuts the kiss short, the sexual tension is obvious and intense. (Please note that, even in the books – and I hate to give anything away, so SPOILER ALERT – Bella and Edward remain “innocent” until after their marriage in Breaking Dawn.)

Overall, I enjoyed the film. By the end, I wished New Moon was about to hit theaters because I wanted more … more of Jacob Black’s story, more of Edward’s family’s involvement, and more Bella.

Genre: Drama/Fantasy/Romance/Horror
MPAA Rating: PG-13

(Editor's Note: TitleTrakk.com reviews do not necessarily denote an endorsement of a particular movie but are provided so you can make your own educated decision on whether to watch a movie.)

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Phillip Tomasso IIIThomas Phillips grew up with a reading disability. He did everything possible not to read. It wasn’t until he was in seventh grade that he finally read a book cover to cover. Now a voracious reader and prolific writer, Phillips uses his accomplishments as a motivational backdrop for speaking at school assemblies. Born and raised in Rochester, New York, Phillips has worked as a freelance journalist and currently works full time as an employment law paralegal. When he isn’t writing, Phillips plays guitar, is active at his church, coaches his children’s Little League teams, co-leads Ink Spots and Coffee Grounds—a creative writing group, and plots his next story. The Molech Prophecy is his first published Christian novel. Visit him online at his Shoutlife page & Myspace page.