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Twilight (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 22, 2009 by  



“‘I’m glad I waited until the hype died down to watch and experience this film for myself and I’m glad I did.  What a beautiful, romantic and stylishly cool film did ‘Twilight’ turn out to be!  The Blu-ray release boasts beautiful visuals, crystal clear audio and enjoyable special features.  Highly recommended!”

Images © 2009 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Twilight

DURATION: 122 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition 16×9 (2:40:1), English DTS-HD Master Audio, Espanol: 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH (for deaf and hard of hearing); Espanol.  Special Features are 480i and 1080i, Stereo 2.0

RATED: PG-13 (Some Violence and a Scene of Sensuality)

COMPANY: Summit Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: March 21, 2009

Based on the original novel by Stephanie Meyer

Directed by Catherine Hardwicke

Screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg

Produced by Wyck Godrey, Greg Mooradian, Mark Morgan, Karen Rosenfelt

Executive Produced by Marty Bowen, Michele Imperato, Guy Oseary

Co-Produced by Jamie Marshall

Associate Producer: Patrick Thomas Smith

Music by Carter Burwell

Director of Photography: Elliot Davis

Film Editing by Nancy Richardson

Art Direction: Christopher Brown, Ian Phillips

Set Decoration by Gene Serdena

Costume Design by Wendy Chuck

Cast:

Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan

Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen

Billy Burke as Charlie Swan

Ashley Greene as Alice Cullen

Nikki Reed as Rosalie Hale

Jackson Rathbone as Jasper Hale

Kellan Lutz as Emmett Cullen

Peter Facinelli as Dr. Carlisle Cullen

Cam Gigandet as James

Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black

Anna Kendrick as Jessica Stanley

Michael Welch as Mike Newton

Christian Serratos as Angela Weber

Gil Birmingham as Billy Black

Elizabeth Reaser as Esme Cullen

Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) doesn’t expect much when she moves tot he small town of Forks, Washington, until she meets the mysterious and handsome Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) – a boy who’s hiding a dark secret: he’s a vampire.  As their worlds and hearts collide, Edward must battle the bloodlust raging inside him as well as a coterie of undead that would make Bella their prey.  Based on the #1 New York Times best-selling sensation by Stephanie Meyer, Twilight adds a dangerous twist to the classic story of star-crossed lovers.

“Twilight”, since its release as a novel in 2005 by Stephanie Meyer, the novel would become a New York Times Best Seller and even Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year.

Having released four novels, Summit Entertainment adapted the popular novel to a film and in 2008, was released to critical acclaim, grossing $35.7 million on its opening day and over $376 million worldwide, not including the $83+ million the film has made through DVD and Blu-ray sales.

With that being said, I knew nothing about the novels.  In fact, part of my reason for reviewing this blu-ray disc a little late is because I wanted the hype and fanfare to die down, not having to hear it from friends, associates and literally, experience the film for myself and wonder why people are so passionate about “Twilight”.

The first positive for me was to find out that Catherine Hardwicke would direct the film.  Catherine is one of the new wave of directors that has a stylish and cool way of doing things.  From her years as a production designer and art director for many films, what made me appreciate her work is what she did with the film “Lords of Dogtown”.  When she’s passionate for a storyline, she goes all out.

And joining with screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg (known for her TV writing work for “The O.C.”, “Dexter”, etc.), I feel that both women could really do awesome work adapting Meyer’s work to film.

“Twilight” is about a 17-year-old teenager named Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) who moves to the town of Forks in Washington.  Because her mother is traveling with her boyfriend to his minor league baseball games, Bella will be staying with her father Charlie (Billie Burke), the Chief of Police in Forks.

She gets reacquainted with an old childhood friend Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) and his father Billy (Gil Birmingham), both are members of the Quileute Tribe and gets prepared for her first day at school.

Once arriving to school, she is greeted by a few students such as the guys Eric Yorkie (Justin Chon), Mike Newton (Michael Welch) and Tyler Crowlie (Gegory Tyree Boyce) who try to vie for her attention and Jessica Stanley (Anna Kendrick) and Angela Weber (Christian Serratos) who try to introduce her to the various cliques at the local high school.

She immediately is told about a group of people at the school who have share of mystery to them.  The Cullen family which include Alice (Ashley Greene) and Emmett (Kellan Lutz), along with their close friends Jasper Hale (Jackson Rathbone) and Rosalie Hale (Nikki Reed) who live together with the town’s doctor Carlisle (Peter Facinelli) and his wife Esme (Elizabeth Reaser).

But coming late to the mysterious group of teens is Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) who the girls like but no girl has been able to get close to him.  Immediately when Bella looks at him, Edward gives her this mean look.

When she goes to her Biology class, she is assigned to sit next to Edward and immediately, Edward looks at her with disgust. Even closing his mouth with his hands, making her wonder if she smells bad or why he looks at her this way.

While following him to ask why he acts this way to her, she sees him at the office trying to move to another class but can’t.  Bella starts to become confused and each day she wants to talk to him and ask what is wrong, he has missed classes for days.

When Edward returns to class, he immediately apologizes to Bella for the way he has treated her and tries to be civil.  Bella is fine with it but you can see a bit of tension between the two, as she appears to be attracted to him but also confused and conflicted.

A few days later while at the school parking lot, she observes Edward from a distance with his family and friends staring at her, making her feel a bit uncomfortable.  Next thing you know, a van starts charging to the parking lot and immediately Edward stops the vehicle from crashing into Bella with his bare hands.  Edward has saved her life but now, Bella is even more confused of how he was able to get to her so quickly and how he was able to stop the van from hitting her.

Bella tries to get close to him wanting to know how he was able to do the things that he did and tells her, “What if I’m not a hero.  What if I’m the bad guy?”

Meanwhile, at the town of Forks, things are not going so well.  We learn that there have been murders in the town, which have authorities thinking there is a killer animal on the loose, and we see images of three people hunting down on the victims.

Bella then starts to do her own research and is told a story by her friend Jacob about an ancient story of his tribe of wolves who would go after this group and has her intrigued about the history of the town of Forks and the tribe that she goes to find a book on the Quileute tribe.

While walking to get a book alone without her friends at night, she is stalked by a group of guys in a dark area.  They are about to attack her and immediately, Edward saves her.

She doesn’t know how Edward knew where she was and thinks he may be stalking her but she is confused of why this guy is always there.  While driving home, Edward has the heater up full blast and as she reaches to turn the heater down, she feels his skin and it’s cold.

When they arrive to the town of Forks, police cars are everywhere and another murder has taken place and this time, hitting home, as the man murdered is a good friend of Bella’s father.

When Bella arrives at home, she does her research with the book and searching online and she starts to piece things together that he is a vampire.   When she attends school the next day, she approaches Edward and walks to the forest and he follows.

Edward reveals to her that he is a vampire and admits to her that he and his family are vampires but do not feast on human blood, only animal blood.  Each of them is gifted with certain powers but for Edward, he has amazing speed, strength and the ability to read people’s minds but for some reason, he can’t read Bella’s mind.

Edward tells Bella that he can’t be away from her, her scent makes him crave her and he has waited for a girl like her all his life.  She tells him that she is not afraid of him and starts to understand him.  From this point on, both Edward and Bella become a couple.

He then introduces her to the family but Rosalie is hostile towards her because she thinks that Bella may reveal to people what they are but most importantly because she is human, she may be feasted on.  But Edward is protective of her and their bond as a couple becomes stronger.

But Edward must not lose his control around her.  He loves her so much but her scent tends to overpower him and Bella asks him that it’s ok but Edward will never do it (never does he want to turn her into a vampire).  He needs to keep himself in control.

One day when taking Bella to a family outing to play baseball, they encounter three nomadic vampires:  James (Cam Gigandet), Victoria (Rachelle Lefevre) and Laurent (Edi Gathegi).  The Cullen family do what they can to make sure things are OK and that the other vampires do not catch on that Bella is a human.  But unfortunately, James discovers that she is and thus Bella becomes the hunted.

Edward and the family do what they can to get Bella away to safety and even Laurent gives Carlisle and Edward a warning in regards to James, that he is a gifted tracker with unparalleled senses and will do everything it takes to hunt Bella.

Edward and the Cullens do what they can to protect Bella from being hunted down and killed.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

One thing that came to mind when I started watching “Twilight” is seeing the town of Fork, images of the popular “Twin Peaks” show came to mind.  With its green vegetation, small town atmosphere and cloudy but rural type of terrain.  But one thing that I enjoyed about “Twilight” is its blue tint.

The high definition 1080p transfer (2:35:1 aspect ratio) is quite beautiful but the slight hint of blue gives us this mysterious feeling.  How the characters such as the Cullen family with their white and pale look to the close ups of the characters and being able to catch the hint of blood and grime on the fingertips of the nomadic vampires to the skin wrinkles and pores of the characters.  Outdoors, shots are absolutely beautiful and gorgeous mountains that surround the town.

Definitely like the use of blacks and one thing that it’s important to point out that with the many low light conditions captured on film, the film doesn’t exhibit excessive grain.  Overall, the picture quality of “Twilight” is absolute beautiful.

As for the audio, It was great to have this DTS-HD Master Audio track because of the amount of dialogue, music and overall ambiance of special effects to the sounds of nature, you hear it nicely.

Although the film showcases dialogue as its priority, the music is nicely balanced and the special effects and various sounds from Edward preventing the van and hearing the metal squeeze and crunch was quite nice.

Audio is front heavy for dialogue but you can expect to see the low levels of your subwoofer being utilized.  So, I was absolutely happy that this Blu-ray had such an awesome, lossless and not overpowering soundtrack.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Twilight” has a good number of special features, fun commentary and an informative documentary but with a popular film such as “Twilight”, I can’t help but think that there will be another release (perhaps around the time of the second film) that would be jam packed with bonus features.

This Blu-ray disc comes with the following:

  • AUDIO COMMENTARY by Director Catherine Hardwicke, Kristen Stewart and Richard Pattinson – An interesting and fun commentary, as you have Catherine Hardwicke with her laid back style of speaking, Pattinson often joking around and talking about crazy things during the filming and Steward who also have something interesting and fun to say.  If anything, less talk about filmmaking (in a technical sense) but moreso on experiences of the talent and behind-the-scenes information of the film and the different scenes.
  • MUSIC VIDEOS – The “Twilight” soundtrack is one of the most successful film soundtracks and nearly seven months since the film came out in theaters, the soundtrack continues to dominate the Billboard charts.  For this segment, people can watch live concert videos of “Supermassive Black Hole” by Muse, “Decode” by Paramore and “Leave Out all the Rest” by Linkin Park.  This segment is featured in 1080i.
  • The Adventure Begins: The Journey form Page to Screen – (54:29) If you have a Blu-ray profile 1.1 player, you can rewatch the film and have a picture-in-picture documentary or watch it separately if your Blu-ray player doesn’t have PiP capability.  In this documentary, “Twilight” creator Stephanie Meyer giving us information on how the novel was adapted to film.  How things started out with a dream and then going into pre-production, casting, how CG was utilized, creating the overall atmosphere and world of the Cullen’s and much more.  Overall, a very entertaining and informative documentary featured in 1080p.  Here are the various selections that can be viewed:

– the beginning

– the partnership: a look at pre-production

– the vampires

– capturing the action: a look at production

– vampire baseball

– the final word on the final battle

– putting it all together: the magic of post-production

  • The Comic-Con Phenomenon – (7:58) A very fun featurette with the fans going crazy at the San Diego Comic-Con and clips from the press conference.  It was fun to see everyone together and discuss what they enjoyed about the novel but also to hear the girls going crazy over Robert Pattinson.  The featurette is featured in standard 480p.
  • EXTENDED SCENES – (9:36) There are five extended scenes with introduction by Director Katherine Hardwicke.  All are featured in 1080p.  Included are:

– are people talking about the cullen’s again?

– james, let’s not play with our food.

– you don’t know how it’s tortured me.

– a hundred years worth of journals.

– don’t read charlie’s mind.

  • DELETED SCENES – (5:54) There are five deleted scenes featuring an intro by Director Catherine Hardwicke.  All are featured in 1080p.  Included are:

– edward, she’s not one of us

– that’s the first time i dreamt of edward cullen.

– bella, your number was up the first day i met you.

– she brought him to life.

– i love it when men chase me.

  • THEATRICAL CAMPAIGN – This segment features teaser trailers, trailers and sneak peaks, all in 1080p.  Included are:

– sneak peek as seen on ‘Penelope’ dvd

– comic-con new york sneak peek

– teaser trailer #1

– teaster trailer #2

– final trailer

I’m glad that I took the time to wait and watch “Twilight”.  When it comes to vampire and human relationships, I’ve always been a stickler for ol’ Buffy and Angel.  But I have to admit that I really enjoyed the whole theme of the film.

Kristen Stewart has this quirkiness to her character that makes her so believable in her role.  Although, having watched her being interviewed several times, I’m guessing that she’s just a person that has her brain working overtime or maybe she’s uncomfortably shy or something.  But she brought a uniqueness to the role of Bella and I look forward to seeing more of her.

As for Robert Pattinson, obviously the girl magnet.  The cool guy and like Kristen Stewart, I feel that he was well cast for his role as Edward.

After watching the film, I just enjoyed the overall setting of the film.  Beautiful lush and green but with that hint of fog or low clouds in the mountainside adds to the whimsical beauty of the film.

I also enjoyed the characters.  Sure, it has an essence of some teenage films but when combined with the vampire storyline and overall cool look of the Cullen family which have a degree of coolness with each character, you can’t help but be mesmerized and curious of these characters.

Katherine Hardwicke has a good eye on action but most of all character development and pacing has always been her strong point and overall, screenplay, cinematography and its musical score are just well-done.

Overall, I can help but give this Blu-ray a high recommendation.  Sure, it’s not all-out-action or a bloody, gory vampire film.  Nor is it Scooby Doo-ish, Vampire turns on girlfriend ala “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” either.

It’s a good ol’ romantic love story with a dark vampire edge to it.   Well-written, well-directed, well-acted, well-cast and overall gripping and modernly stylish.  The Blu-ray features beautiful visuals and the audio is well done with its DTS-HD MA soundtrack.  There’s nothing bad I could say about this release.

I highly recommend this film and look forward to the sequel!






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