UK Critics Consensus: Twilight Shines In The UK Reviews

Plus, Fear And Loving For Gonzo, Whilst The Tale Of Despereaux Is Met With Indifference

by | December 19, 2008 | Comments

It’s Christmas week in the UK cinemas, but instead of any festive films on offer, we have the eagerly anticipated (by young girls everywhere…) romantic vampire movie Twilight. Gonzo: The Life And Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, a documentary about the godfather of Gonzo journalism, and the writer of Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas is also lighting up the big screens, with mouse-based animation The Tale Of Despereaux making up the numbers for this week’s releases. But what did the UK critics have to say?

Twilight is the film adaptation of the hugely successful and popular teen-fantasy novel by Stephanie Meyer. The books, Twilight being the first in a series of four, have sold by the boat-load in the US, approaching an almost Potter level of success, but mainly amongst hormonal teenage girls of a certain age. Meyer’s tales of teenage yearning and angst, combined with the gothic supernatural seem to have struck a rich vein of youth literature, and the film adaptation has been generating a massive amount of interest amongst the book’s legions of fans.

The film was released last month in the US, and didn’t fare too well with the critics. It stood at a Rotten 45% on the Tomatometer, with the critics feeling that it didn’t live up to the source material, and many bemoaning the chemistry (or lack of) between Bella and Edward, played by Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. But, perhaps due to the more muted level of popularity of the source material here in blighty, the UK critics have really fallen for Twilight. From the 20 reviews collated today, only one review came in unfavourably, and even The Sun’s critic The Sneak admitted that the film was “A superior high school romance, which looks set to live on after the sun has set on Hogwarts.” So with UK reviews only Twilight would stand at a much more respectable (and Fresh) 95% on the Tomatometer. Critics swooned over the breathless romance and dark but well-meaning tone, meaning that Twilight may just be the hit of the winter season with Will Lawrence from Empire saying “A sometimes girlie swirl of obsession that will delight fans, this faithful adaptation is after teenage blood, and will most likely hit a box office artery.”

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson does exactly what it says on the tin. Alex Gibney‘s documentary currently stands at a Certified Fresh 86% on the Tomatometer. UK critics echoed the US critical response, applauding the insightful, accessible and definitive biography into Thompson’s weird and wonderful life, whilst a few complained that Gibney failed to delve deeply enough into his darker and more idiosyncratic foibles. Summing up the film, and it’s hagiographic nature, James Christopher of The Times said…

Gonzo is much more than a tribute to a maverick and genuine pioneer. It’s a lament for the gaping hole that Thompson left behind. The only obvious weakness is Gibney’s reluctance to engage fully with Thompson’s toxic personal life.”

It must be a literary themed this week, as our third big release is The Tale Of Despereaux, an adaptation of the Kate DiCamillo fantasy novel, concerning the eponymous brave rodent Despereaux. Boasting an all-star cast including Sigourney Weaver, Matthew Broderick and Potter alumni Emma Watson, The Tale Of Despereaux is a modern animated fairytale with princesses, castles and talking mice, naturally. At 47% on the Tomatometer though, it seems that Despereaux doesn’t have the required level of magic to garner a Fresh rating. The critics felt that kids would probably enjoy it (but, at the risk of sounding patronising, what animated feature don’t they?), they praised the crisp animation, but felt the story was laboured, the characters weak, and film displayed a concerning lack of warmth. Paling in comparison to the similar yet superior Ratatouille and Shrek, The Tale of Despereaux is more stale than fairytale.

Quote Of The Week

“Horror fans will find little to sink their teeth into, but it’ll get tweenage hearts fluttering like orgasmic bats.”

Twilight. Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro.

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