NEW AT THE MOVIES: 'Twilight' stifles book's fun
Courtesy of Summit Entertainment, Kristen Stewart, as Bella Swan, and Robert Pattinson, as Edward Cullen, star in "Twilight."

Rated PG-13 for some violence and a scene of sensuality. 121 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.

Teenage girls will surely squeal with delight throughout “Twilight,” the feverishly awaited adaptation of the hugely selling vampire novel by Stephenie Meyer.

Just the very sight of the title on the screen inspired piercing screeches of glee at a recent screening. And the arrival of our tormented monster-hero Edward Cullen is certain to send another wave of shivers, and that’s before he ever sinks his teeth into anything — or anyone.

Director Catherine Hardwicke was also clearly taken by the character, and by the actor playing him, Robert Pattinson: She shoots him as if he were the featured model in an Abercrombie & Fitch ad, adoringly highlighting his angular cheekbones, his amber eyes (with the help of color contacts), those pouty red lips and that lanky frame.

He might be too pretty — and perhaps that’s a crucial key to the character’s popularity among girls and young women. He’s a non-threatening, almost asexual vampire. This is not Bela Lugosi, and it’s certainly not George Hamilton.

But much of what made the relationship between Edward and the smitten Bella Swan work in Meyer’s breezy book has been stripped away on screen. The funny, lively banter — the way in which Edward and Bella teased and toyed with one another about their respective immortality and humanity — is pretty much completely gone, and all that’s left is a slog of adolescent angst.

Purists, the ones wearing Forks High School sweat shirts to the multiplex, will be happy to see that the first line of Meyer’s book — “I’d never given much thought to how I would die” — is also the first line in Melissa Rosenberg’s script. Several other choice bits of dialogue have been plucked, and except for a couple of details that were moved around here and there, “Twilight” the film remains mostly true to “Twilight” the international literary sensation. (And the author herself makes a quick cameo.)

If you’re coming into this material cold, though, you will be seriously baffled as to what the fuss is all about.


Rated PG for some mild action and peril. 96 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

Harmless as a puppy, “Bolt” comes bounding into theaters, stumbling over its big, goofy paws, wagging its fluffy tail and begging to play ball.

It’s sweet and eager to please but, sadly, nothing terribly special: Girl finds dog, girl loses dog, girl gets dog back. You’ve seen this sort of thing countless times before, namely in any movie with the word “Lassie” in the title.

But if you happen to be a girl who loves dogs, you may find yourself wiping away a tear or two.

This animated 3-D adventure follows a scrappy, white shelter mutt named Bolt (voiced by John Travolta) who isn’t a superhero, but he plays one on TV. Trouble is, he has no idea he’s an actor in a role. He thinks he’s really saving plucky, young Penny (Miley Cyrus) — his “person,” as he’s so proud to call her — from bad guys and explosions over and over again.

When Bolt accidentally gets shipped across the country from Hollywood to New York City, in a totally contrived fashion, he must make that tried-and-true, intrepid trek back home. Travolta, so often pigeonholed as a tough guy or an idiot or both, shows some lovely glimmers of vulnerability here, especially once he realizes he’s just a normal dog after all.

Along the way, he befriends the street-wise, wisecracking alley cat, Mittens (Susie Essman in a slightly less vulgar mode than you’d find her on “Curb Your Enthusiasm”), and the overeager, overfed hamster Rhino (the scene-stealing Mark Walton), who’s obsessed with television and is totally psyched about the prospect of being Bolt’s crime-fighting sidekick.

“Bolt” is familiar rather than groundbreaking, safe when it should be moving. Call it an occupational hazard: Lasseter is too good at what he does; it’s not a terrible problem to have.

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