October 21, 2020

I watched ‘The Twilight Saga’ for the first time ever

Well, I can say that the horrors are true. These movies aren’t the best, but not everything about them is terrible.

Over the years, you’ve probably heard many people make fun of the Twilight franchise for being melodramatic and all-around terrible.

Hating on Twilight became a trend. Instead of forming personal opinions, people collectively bashed on the series without taking the time to give every single entry a chance.

The Twilight Saga was originally a book series by Stephanie Meyer. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

Up until this point, I’ve always tried to not be overly critical of the Twilight movies because I never actually watched a single one. Between the romance, sparkling vampires, and shirtless werewolves, the series just never interested me. I understood that I wasn’t among the target demographic. 

Years after the Twilight craze, I finally dove into the movie series to see what all the fuss is about, similar to how another Chimes writer did with the books a few years ago. Something to note is that I haven’t read any of the books, nor should I have to. These movies are only being judged on the material that they’re bringing to the table, not anything else.

Twilight

Twilight follows the story of Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), a teenage girl that moves to the town of Forks, Washington to live with her father. It is in this very town that Bella encounters the mysterious Cullen family, and more importantly among them, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson).

Bella eventually realizes that Edward and his family are vampires, and before long, she finds herself in the crosshairs of many dangers.

As the starting point of the series, most of the movie is dedicated to establishing the characters and their relationships.

To start off with positives, I thought the Cullen family in general was very interesting. The family dynamic is unique, and the concept is something that I wish was the main focus instead of the rather infamous romance plot.

That actually brings up a key argument that I want to make about this series as a whole. The story of Twilight isn’t necessarily bad, I just think we’re witnessing things through the wrong eyes.

It would’ve been far more entertaining and engrossing if the audience witnessed the story through the perspective of the Cullen family. It would actually make for a great sitcom show. 

The iconic baseball scene and the cool-toned hues of the movie are part of what made Twilight stand out. Photo courtesy of Entertainment Weekly.

The same can be said for Charlie (Billy Burke), Bella’s beer-drinking, gun-toting father. Imagine a story about a washed-up, middle aged police officer who stumbles upon a secret, supernatural world while trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter. That sounds like it could be an awesome narrative.

Instead, we’re stuck with Bella “Cardboard” Swan and her lackluster chemistry with Edward. Romance is the centerpiece of this entire franchise, but unfortunately, that’s the weakest element of it all. There’s interesting lore, but it often gets overshadowed by the soapy teen romance.

New Moon

I should preface this section by saying that New Moon is by far my least favorite out of all these movies, mainly because it focuses a lot on Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), and the werewolves.

New Moon is the film that Jacob Black becomes a prominent character in. Photo courtesy of Amazon.

It felt as if Edward and his family were barely in the movie, which is unfortunate since I realized that I had actually grown attached to them. Granted, Alice Cullen (Ashley Greene) still had a decent amount of screen time, which was awesome since she’s one of the few characters that I love seeing on screen, outside of Charlie Swan.

All of the vampire lore takes a backseat this time around to make room for the werewolf stuff, which I felt was handled far more poorly.

Werewolves are cool in general, the problem is that the movie does a poor job of introducing the audience into this specific part of the lore. Their world and rules didn’t land as well as the vampire stuff did for me. 

Then of course, there’s Jacob, who’s honestly one of the worst characters in the series, which isn’t saying much to be fair. He’s just this really shallow and mean-spirited character, and that doesn’t improve as the movies progress.

One highlight of the movie though, is Michael Sheen in the role of Aro, the leader of a powerful vampire cult known as the Volturi. His performance in these movies can be a little over the top at times, but it’s still great.

New Moon made me realize what I like and dislike about the Twilight saga. Sometimes, you need to watch something really bad in order to put things in perspective.

Eclipse

Eclipse is a definite improvement over the previous entries. The movie is more engaging and eventful than New Moon. Most of that movie was comprised of Bella and Jacob just hanging out in Forks while going back and forth about their feelings for each other. 

The Cullen family returns full force in Eclipse, and we finally get a deeper look into their past which was only lightly touched upon in the first movie. The flashback scenes were among the best parts of the movie, especially Rosalie Cullen’s. This is the movie when I really grew attached to her character.

An old enemy returns to take revenge on Bella, which makes the plot more exciting to follow. The high-stakes plot also breaks up the monotony of the romance scenes. 

This is the movie where you start picking sides: Team Edward or Team Jacob. Edward is genuinely a nice and wise man. Jacob, on the other hand, is overbearing and immature. I was surprised Jacob didn’t have a restraining order filed against him by the end of this movie.

All in all, I would put Eclipse high up in the series.

Breaking Dawn: Part 1

This is another one of my favorites. Breaking Dawn: Part 1 is the beginning of the end for our characters. 

In Breaking Dawn: Part 1, Edward and Bella venture out of Forks for a scenic honeymoon. Photo courtesy of NPR.

It was nice getting to see Edward and Bella tie the knot together, and the honeymoon stuff actually wasn’t that boring. I guess it was a nice change of pace to finally get out of rainy Washington and go somewhere exotic.

Jacob, of course, sits around and pouts for a fair portion of the movie, but he eventually comes around and grows up a bit.

Also, I got chills up my spine watching the ending. There’s an emotional montage that looks back at how far Bella has come, and it prepares you for where she is going next. It was both touching and epic.

Breaking Dawn: Part 2

The final movie in the series isn’t great but it’s not exactly terrible.

There’s a greater focus on action and adventure as Bella, Jacob, and the Cullen family travel around the world in search of vampires to stand up against the Volturi.

For some reason, it appears that the digital effects budget took a major hit this time around. There’s some serious uncanny valley stuff going on with the CGI work that wasn’t too jarring in the previous movies.

There’s also a lot of scenes where it’s clearly obvious that the actors are standing in front of a green screen. I was expecting the final entry to be more polished in that regard. This is something that you would expect from the first movie in a series.

I wish I can say that the movie ends with an epic and emotional showdown like something akin to the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, but the last 30 minutes falls flat on its face with one of the most anti-climatic twists I have ever experienced in a movie.

The final ending is nice and all, but there is a cop-out in the third act that will leave you feeling cheated.

Conclusion

Honestly, I dreaded watching each one of these movies. It took me two days to get through each movie because I would have to take a break and clear my mind.

The truth is these movies were not tailored for me and a lot of other people, and that’s okay. These movies know what they are and try not to be something else. They’re like those dollar store romance novels that your single aunt reads.

The acting is rough, the dialogue can be cringey, and the romance struggles to have a believable substance to it.

The Twilight movies have their issues, but there is still a small amount of entertainment that can be found within these dumpster fires. 

At least now I can say that I’ve watched every single one of these movies and given them a fair chance.

  • Robert Cumberlander is the Editor-in-Chief of The Chimes and a junior at Capital University, majoring in Film and Media Production with a minor in Entrepreneurship.

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