When I was in high school, you were either fully obsessed with Twilight or vehemently against it. I definitely fell into the latter camp. At the time, I was fully invested in all things Harry Potter, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Twilight was supposed to be a cheap knockoff that only girls liked because they were in love with Edward Cullen. I had never read a single word from any of the four Twilight books, but I was convinced they were horrible. Bella was a boring protagonist who was a bad role model for young girls and Edward was a creepy stalker. That’s what I knew.
So needless to say, I completely ignored the Twilight movies when they came out in my high school and college years. I kept my focus on Harry Potter movies and the early days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I did end up watching the original Twilight movie once (with my parents I think?) but it did not leave a lasting impression in my memory.
So what better to do during a global pandemic when movie theaters are shut down then finally sit down and watch the entire Twilight Saga? So that’s what I did. And they are NOT GOOD movies, but like… I get it?
Twilight is a spectacularly awkward movie. Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson are both good actors (now), but the material they had to work with was not flattering to either of them. Everyone seems uncomfortable the whole time and a lot of the performances are very wooden and boring. The script and dialogue are so dull and the directing and camera choices were actually kind of distracting. And then they decided to slap a weird blue/grey filter over the entire movie, which I guess is supposed to make everything look overcast and gloomy, but it’s so overwhelmingly blue that it’s weird. The only good scene is when they play baseball. 5/10.
I had vague ideas of what the plot of New Moon was about, but woah boy this movie was the worst. Thankfully, everything is no longer blue, though. Edward leaves and Bella just shuts down for three months. Taylor Lautner finally gets to be a character and the friendship between Bella and Jacob is cute at first, but then surprise! Jacob is a werewolf. And thus begins the world’s most boring, controlling and gaslighting love triangle. Bella spends half of the movie trying to almost kill herself to see these imagined glimpses of Edward. The movie spends its first 10 minutes hammering Romeo and Juliet down your throat and then halfway through you realize they did so because the plot literally turns into Romeo and Juliet. Edward thinks Bella killed herself, so he wants to die too, but Bella shows up (in Italy??) at the last minute to save him. The introduction of the Volturi is an interesting concept but seems weirdly out of place for the world that was set up in Twilight and they never really do anything. 4/10.
Eclipse actually has some decently interesting parts buried among the terrible love triangle of Bella, Edward and Jacob. That part of the movie was bad. Everything else actually kept me interested. Victoria, a villain who has just been hanging out for the past two movies, finally gets to do something and creates an army of newborn vampires to kill Bella because Edward killed Victoria’s vampire lover in the first movie. We also get backstory for Jasper and Rosalie, two of Edward’s adoptive siblings, and their stories are so much more interesting than literally anything that’s happened with Bella and Edward in three movies. The movie ends with a decently exciting battle between the newborn vampire army and the Cullens/werewolves. Oh yeah, Bella and Edward get engaged at some point either in this movie or New Moon, I can’t remember. Every movie ends with them in the same field of flowers so they all start to feel the same. 5/10.
Breaking Dawn followed in the footsteps of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and split the final book into two movies. Breaking Dawn, however, absolutely did not need to be two movies. Literally three things happen in Part 1 and it’s still two hours long. Bella and Edward get married and go on their honeymoon, Bella gets pregnant and has the baby in like two months, and Edward finally turns Bella into a vampire. That may sound like a lot, but trust me, it’s not. Also, Jacob still can’t take a hint, literally trying to get Bella to ditch Edward RIGHT AFTER THEY GOT MARRIED. 3/10.
Breaking Dawn – Part 2 opens with Bella becoming a vampire and learning that Jacob has “imprinted” (i.e., fallen in love) with her NEWBORN BABY (who has been given the spectacularly awful name of Renesmee). Side note – this baby is the creepiest thing ever committed to film. She’s supposed to age rapidly, so they, like, CGI-ed a toddler’s face on an infant body?? Nightmare fuel. Anyway, the Volturi are still around and they’re upset about Bella and Edward’s child so they plan to come and kill her. The Cullens then spend about 30 minutes of the movie recruiting their own army and suddenly become the X-men? Apparently, all vampires have a special superpower. The Cullen army and the Volturi army meet and begin to have this massive battle. Some major characters are killed and at this point I’m actually invested in how this will turn out. But once it looks like the Cullens are going to win, the movie CUTS BACK TO BEFORE THE BATTLE STARTED. Alice, who’s special superpower is the ability to see possible futures, has shown the Volturi leader what WOULD HAVE HAPPENED if they stayed and fought. So the Volturi JUST LEAVE. I was so disappointed. But everyone gets their happily vampire after. 5/10.
The Twilight Saga is absolutely insane, but on some level I can now understand the love people have for these movies, whether they unironically enjoy them or they love to hate them. They’re modern cult classics.
A lot of the criticisms I have of the series still stand now that I’ve seen the movies. Edward and Jacob are both problematic and weirdly controlling of Bella, who is not really all that interesting in the first place. Charlie and Alice are the real MVPs of this series. I actually had a great time watching these movies. Will I ever watch them again? Probably not. But I can say that I’m glad I’ve finally seen them.