When misunderstood teenager Bella Swan (Stewart) leaves her humdrum life in Phoenix behind to live with her father (Burke), in Forks, Washington, she feels an outsider. Her mother has moved on to a new partner and her relationship with her father is strained after several years apart, and him failing to realise she is growing up.

Trying to settle in at school she becomes popular with the usual geeks and catches the eye of Edward Cullen (Pattinson), the dreamy class outcast. Along with his family he is not known for mixing with the other students, but his attraction to Bella is instant and ferocious, and she becomes bewitched by him.

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Unable to contain himself, Edward gives into his desires and befriends Bella, revealing his big secret: he is not of this earth but a vampire. Their friendship grows but he refrains from adding Bella to his clan, despite her desire to join. He wants her to have a normal life that he can only dream of, settling down and growing old.

Alas, he is not the only vampire in the village, so when a bloodthirsty trio get wind of the romance they set out to feast on this young prey, leaving Edward to protect his precious love.

Bella and Edward are classic star-crossed lovers of the 'Romeo and Juliet' type and 'Twilight' focuses more on their relationship than the gore of previous vampire films. Based on the series of novels by Stephenie Meyer, it's a love story that has real passion, and which has kept fans gripped over four hugely popular books.
Read an interview with Stephenie Meyer.

As she showed with her 2003 debut, 'Thirteen', director Catherine Hardwicke handles teenage stories very well and 'Twilight's simple story moves easily to the screen as opposed to other books which have failed to make the transition. The fact that she has opted out of the sequel is a surprise, leaving it to director Chris Weitz whose 'The Golden Compass' faired less well last year.

As 'Harry Potter' winds down and with 'The Lord of the Rings' now a distant memory for cinemagoers, 'Twilight' is the first of four movies with characters for audiences to sink their teeth into.

Seán Kavanagh