The Twilight Saga Movie Series Review
The Twilight films have a very fascinating existence –critics all over the world have logical and sound arguments as to why the films are not good at all. And at the same time, it appeals massively to a very huge, and most importantly, long untapped film and book market. The emergence of “twi-hard” fan communities that served as a massive source of financial success of the films and the books –and this sustained following has had a massive impact on society, quickly creating a strong fandom that had no doubts about its identity (the town of Forks, Washington, the setting of Twilight, now has thriving businesses that cater specifically to fans of the series).
Obviously, most of you already know what Twilight is. But for the sake of discussion, here’s what the films are about. The Twilight Films are a series of 5 movies based on the 4 Twilight books (the fourth book is split into two movies, though coincidentally, the fourth book itself is self-divided into two major parts).
The story revolves around a girl named Bella, who moves into the often-overcast and dreary town of Forks, Washington to live with her father. At school, she attracts the attention of Edward Cullen. As it turns out, the Cullens are a coven of “vampires” secretly living among the humans at Forks. Edward and Bella’s relationship with each other means that Bella gets involved in the various dangers and perils that the Cullens face (which include other dangerous vampires coming into town, ancient shapeshifting Native Americans, ancient vampires from the Vatican, and the dangers of having a vampire child).
Acting wise, the film series has so many issues that we can’t tell if it is the actors or the directors to blame. There’s a whole meme on the how many silent longing gazes the characters throw at each other (the first few times won’t matter, but after a while, you can’t help but notice it), or how actress Kristen Stewart always looks like she’s either constipated or about to punch someone (we’ve seen her other films, this one is just her not the director), there’s even a running gag about how the werewolves seem to have a penchant for always removing their shirts.
There is one pretty cool part near the very end of the last book though, after Bella’s super-fast pregnancy (don’t ask) means that the Cullens are having a baby, which is apparently a taboo for “vampires”. Then the Cullens start recruiting various other covens to help them protect the baby while the evil bad guys have their own army. The final battle that ends the book is not only stylishly done (it was a pretty fun fight scene), but also cleverly conceptualized (it was much better than what transpired in the book).
The Lowest Common Denominator
Plot-wise, Twilight is not any worse than other modern fantasy stories involving vampires. What the critics are constantly pointing out however, is the absolute lack of characterization present for the protagonists. Simply put, Bella is as generic as a character can be. She is depicted as the super-normal, super-plain Jane who just happens to be the genetic equivalent of the perfect bait for a vampire. The main basis of their relationship is shallow (she likes how he looks, he finds her appetizing), at no point do the two characters actually attempt to “win” each other over.
But at the same time, this is exactly what makes the films (and books) so appealing to its audience. As we stated, you either enjoy this or not –and Twilight is so good at appealing to its target audience that fans not only enjoy it, but are passionately drawn to it. The discarding balance between Edward and Jacob (later fixed in the last book with Jacob imprinting on Bella’s unborn fetus), the vagueness of Bella’s character (she also just magically happens to have the perfect super-power to negate all mental attacks, turning her from the basic normal girl to everyone’s hero), all pushes towards a fantasy wish fulfillment of the book’s fans.
As a normal human, Bella was a template that was designed so that anyone can envision themselves as her. When she finally becomes a “vampire” in the final book, she instantly becomes in touch with a lot of latent and powerful potential –all thanks to Edward finally deciding to turn her. There is no actual character growth for either of these two, but most especially for Bella, who just gets everything dropped on her lap. Many critics consider Bella as a terrible role model for girls –at least Disney Princesses go through some sort of growth.
Sorry, No Vampires Here
Vampire fans all over the world have only 2 reactions to the Twilight Saga (films and books), they either don’t care for it, or they hate it. Anyone who thinks they enjoy “vampire” culture but only like Twilight fail to realize that none of the so-called vampires in that story are actually vampires (nor are the werewolves actually werewolves). But despite all of that, and no matter how many criticisms have been made of the films or of Stephanie Meyer’s actual written work, it cannot be denied that the series became its own cultural phenomenon.