When the Twilight Saga film series concluded in 2012, I assumed that I would one day be subjected to watching it. I expected that one day I’d marry a woman and she’d force me to binge them. Years later, I did marry a marvelous lady, but she didn’t make me watch them! However, I have been trying to convince her to watch all of The Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition with me for our entire relationship and have failed. A week or so ago, we struck a deal. I would watch all of the Twilight films with her. In turn, she would watch all of the LOTR films with me. The past 5 days have consisted of the two of us watching and discussing one film in the Twilight series each day.
As you may know, my motto for this blog is to not “yuck your yum.” I never want to take away your enjoyment of something. If you love Twilight, that is great! I am genuinely happy for you! I love that there is a series that speaks to you. Unfortunately, having now seen the films, I can’t really say I’m a fan. But I’d like to share my thoughts with you on each film regardless. I’m going to rank them from worst to best. But please do not be offended at my criticism. Please do not love these films any less (if you love them at all) because of this blog. I will not rip them to shreds. Other writers have done so and I could add very little to that side of the discourse. I’ll try to be as positive as I can. So, hop on my back and I’ll climb a tree and we’ll look at this whole forest of films together!
Quick note: There will be full spoilers for these films. Also, I have not read the books so I cannot compare them to the films.
This will be my harshest criticism. I flat out did not enjoy this movie. I was very bored. I felt that it added almost nothing meaningful to the overall story. The plot of the film itself was threadbare. The big fight scene at the end could have been cool, but it was over in the blink of an eye. To me, this movie only existed to perpetuate the love triangle of Bella, Jacob, and Edward. But I don’t think it made a compelling case for this triangle to exist. None of the 3 characters are very likable, but Jacob is the worst here. He treads really far into Nice Guy territory. It doesn’t work for me. I think this movie could be removed from the canon entirely and you’d lose almost nothing of value.
Some will be surprised this isn’t in last place. This was a budget film if ever I’ve seen one. It looks like it was filmed in someone’s backyard. The production value (or lack thereof) is obvious. The hair and make-up were sub-par. The acting was wooden. The dialog would have benefitted from another pass. So, why isn’t it in the bottom? Well…. This movie comes much closer to “so bad it’s good” territory. The effects of the vampires running and climbing trees are absolutely hysterical. If you can accept that this is a poorly made budget movie, you can actually find some enjoyment here.
My biggest critique here is that if this film needed anything, it was some Evanescence.
I saw the last 45 minutes or so of this movie back in probably 2010. So I had some experience with it already. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would this time around. The movie’s budget must have been exponentially increased over the first. It doesn’t look like it was made in someone’s backyard. And I’ll even give credit to the music! It’s pretty good! Especially in the big chase scene with Victoria near the climax. Although I think the plot itself is kind of dumb, the film manages to develop at least a modicum of tension. It also introduces us to the Volturi, who are by far the most interesting thing to happen to the series.
I like Jacob here. He actually is a nice guy, as opposed to a Nice Guy. I do wish we saw more of him and Bella just spending time together. Most of their relationship growth occurs in a montage. That whole part of the movie needed to slow down. We needed to get to know them as they got to know each other.
2-Breaking Dawn: Part 1
At this point, the studio brought in director Bill Condon which seems to have been quite a coup for them. He has a much more cohesive vision for these films than his predecessors did. This is coupled with what I imagine was another increase in budget for decent special effects. Definitely the highest quality film so far.
I like that this movie dives right in with the wedding. There is no time wasted at the beginning. The 3 prior films all had very slow starts which robbed them of momentum. This one starts fast and then slows down. And the wedding scene itself is pretty nice. I like the set design. I like the speeches from various characters we’ve seen in the series.
The honeymoon place is gorgeous. Any couple would be lucky to honeymoon in a place like that. I was surprised at how non-graphic the sex was (I had always heard it was pretty raunchy).
I can’t say I love where the film goes from here. It turns into an anti-abortion allegory (and don’t even get my started on the name of that baby). Unfortunately, it spends most of its time with Bella laid up sick in a house with Jacob whining.
I can actually get behind the idea of the werewolves wanting to kill the baby. It makes sense with the prior films. It provides good tension as they lay siege to the mansion. But the resolution…. I hate it. I’m sorry, but I hate it. It squicks me out. Prior to now, the Werewolf concept of “imprinting” has been all about romantic/sexual relationships. And here, Jacob imprints on a newborn. It’s creepy. Don’t @ me.
A far simpler solution to this plotline would be for Jacob to challenge Sam (the alpha) to a fight. He beats him in a fight, he takes the lead of the pack, and forbids the werewolves from harming the child. No problem. And this all leads us to…
1-Breaking Dawn: Part 2
It took 5 tries, but the studio finally produced a totally competent film. It has a coherent plot. It has solid direction. It dramatically expands the cast and brings in a number of other actors and actresses that help to elevate the entire film (shout out to Lee Pace, in particular). The music is pretty good. The hair and make-up are the best they’ve ever been. Overall, this is a solid effort of a film.
The first half of the film is kind of slow. Also, Jacob contributes absolutely nothing to this entire movie. He doesn’t need to be here (especially if they had fixed the previous film’s ending, as I mentioned above). But let’s talk about the good stuff.
Dakota Fanning yeets a baby into a fire. It’s somehow shocking and hilarious and disturbing all at once.
The big fight at the end is actually pretty fun! There have been actual superhero movies with less interesting climactic battles. I was shocked at how entertaining this entire sequence was.
My favorite moment of the entire series occurs in this scene. One of the female vampires (can’t remember who) rips another vampire’s head in half from his jaw. She pries open his mouth and keeps prying until the top two-thirds of his head pops off like a cork. It’s reminiscent of Kong fighting a T-Rex in the Peter Jackson King Kong movie (which was the best part of the entire film). Totally surprising. Totally great.
The biggest thing I can say for this film is that Michael Sheen’s performance as Aro (the primary villain) is truly delightful. I’ve not seen a great many of his works, but every time I’ve seen him in something, I adore what he does (his work in Tron: Legacy is wondrous). I can’t say the script gives him a great deal to operate with here, but I couldn’t blame you for not noticing. He dominates the screen when he is present. He has malice and malevolence. He has mystery. He has a sort of off-kilter craze to him that makes it impossible to know what he’s really thinking or what he’s truly capable of. He takes what would have been an entirely forgettable antagonist and transforms him into a compelling foe.
Overall, I can’t say that this was a great film, but it was decent. I enjoyed it for the most part. I doubt I’ll ever watch this series again, but I would certainly consider re-watching this one.
So there you have it, folks! I’ve ranked the films in the Twilight Saga from worst to best. What did I get right? What did I get wrong? Please let us know down below or comment on our Instagram page. Share with us how you feel about the Twilight Saga!