The Twilight Saga

Yesterday I sat down and watched all five movies in the The Twilight Saga in a row, back to back, without breaks or distractions. I have transformed into a husk of a man, completely embroiled in my own self pity and wanderlust for the lush forests of Northwestern America. I suffered fever dreams of chiseled abs, sad boys, old Italian men, and CGI babies, all stacked on top of one another in a pyramid topped by Rami Malek and Native-American ex-machina. Come, hold my hand as we wander forth together into the world of love, vampires, werewolves and fantasy. 

“Of three things I was absolutely certain”

I haven’t showered in over twenty four hours, I haven’t eaten and I haven’t left my room except to relieve my bodily functions. Some may say this is depression, but I say this is a complete descent into the mind of Stephanie Meyer. The shades are drawn, the crumbs are brushed out of my beard, my bed is undone. I look like this guy now.

I wish I was wearing a tie.

I don’t know why I wanted to binge all the movies at once. I really didn’t even have the time to do something like this, and I planned on stopping after the third one. Unfortunately I was just so riveted that stopping was impossible. This isn’t a complaint, it’s actually praise. How often is it that you start a film series but can’t finish it? How often is it that a set of movies gets you so invested that even though you know what happens, you still have to finish? How often is it that we watch something genuinely terrible, but the subject matter is so riveting that we can’t look away? Meaning that maybe… just maybe… Twilight may just be that fucking good.

“How can someone so tiny be so annoying?”

It isn’t.

The films have multiple directors, but somehow they struggle to take off or develop any sort of artistic or meaningful traction. In fact, the first movie probably has the most ‘artistic’ appeal, but even then it’s mostly just fluff. It’s forest porn with teenagers staring at each other dreamily. It’s fog and trees and filler whiling away runtime and trying to distract you from the crap vampire CGI. 

She looks like Chucky.

Speaking of vampire CGI, it’s mostly forgivable. I mean what do you expect, they’re supernatural creatures in a romance movie, so it’s not the most important thing. It’s not a big draw, and there’s not one person that the filmmakers care about that cares about cool vampire effects. Essentially, it’s one of those times where it doesn’t matter how bad a certain element of the movie is, because while it’s essential, no one cares. It’s like in Halo: CE when you hold X for Master Chief to hit the elevator button, but his actual arm doesn’t actually move. 

For some reason I used to think that the soundtrack for the first Twilight movie was really good, and the same delicate orchestra plays through the rest of the movies in one form or another, but it’s nothing special. I can’t remember any notable themes or motifs. It was all just one big unmemorable jingle. 

I’ve read the Twilight books, and I know that the novels have a ton of meat to them. I vaguely remember there being enough convincing, riveting dialogue in the books to stretch the series that long. The movie, however, has completely bland, dry and laughably terrible dialogue. It’s just… it’s as if they deliberately didn’t put in the effort. It’s like the first draft of a script. There’s no drive, no emotion. Throughout all five films, there’s absolutely nothing for these poor actors to work with. I mean it’s just jumping from one convoluted, unearned emotional gutpunch moment to the next. There’s no buildup to make the moment count, and thus all we’re left with is tensely delivered dialogue that we can’t care about even if we wanted to. 

“Why am I covered in feathers”

The Twilight Saga is wish fulfillment, through and through. It’s a girl’s desire to have the perfect love interest followed by two perfect hunks fighting over her, followed by her being the focal point of an ancient war between the establishment and her newfound family. The issue, however, is that even though the fantasy is about Bella, she isn’t even the main character. The girl stumbles around, moping and mumbling her way through this world and her story. If we follow the rules of defining characters, Edward is the real protagonist. He makes the decisions and he’s the one who grows and changes every movie. 

In Twilight he grows past his bloodlust and overwhelming desire to kill Bella and saves her from the bad guys. In the second one (New Moon?), he struggles with the fact that he’s not done good enough, mopes around in Brazil, and then gets suicidal. Then there’s a little tussle with the Volturi, Bella is promised to become a vampire, and that’s that. In Eclipse, he faces the fact that his woman can love more than one person at a time, and grows to accept it in the best way he can. In Breaking Dawn 1 and 2, Edward finally accepts the woman he loves doesn’t view him as a monster, that she actually loves him enough to die, and live forever. 

Am… am I team Edward?

I really had to dig deep there, but Edward really is the mainest character I can think of, and Bella is not. It’s frustrating how useless of an individual she is, and it’s even more laughable how we’re beaten over the head with how Bella feels like she belongs with the Cullens. For the entire runtime of the series, somehow, Bella has no moments demonstrating a sense of belonging or community with the Cullens, or vice versa. It isn’t believable the way the Cullens abandon their homes for her when they think they’re putting her in danger, or go to war multiple times to protect her. 

“And so the lion fell in love with the lamb”

The films suck. There’s no two ways about it. They get worse and worse, until the final one pulls two characters out of the literal woods and uses them to solve the big climactic finale of the series. That’s an even more frustrating point. The saga isn’t really a saga, it’s just a series of loosely joined events in Edward’s life with only Bella being the common element.

The first three follow the common threads of Jacob’s inclusion, and the danger posed by Victoria at various points. The Volturi barely even register, and the implied feud they have with the Cullens is never really concluded. The pale rat guy really wants the preppy girl who can see the future, but he also seems really irritated any time the Cullens grow their numbers, which means that he views them as a threat. It all diffuses as soon as the random Native Americans trot out of the woods right on cue. I get it, in the books all this crap is probably explained and resolved, but in the films, nothing is explained, and nothing is resolved. It’s frustrating and insulting. 

The films are a terrible adaptation of what I know to be a set of very riveting romance fantasies. The adaptation is flaccid and lacking time and time again, which is a confounding failure considering we had four directors and five movies to tell the stories the best that they could. Perhaps the Twilight books aren’t good books for an adaptation because the relationships are too dense, or perhaps the drama is too complex for film. Then even as movies, the Saga sucks.

New Moon4/10
Breaking Dawn Part 13/10
Breaking Dawn Part 22/10
It’s my first time rating five films in one review.

The Twilight Saga is available to stream on Netflix.

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