Twilight (2008) — Directed by Catherine Hardwick
New Moon (2009) — Directed by Chris Weitz
Eclipse (2010) — Directed by David Slade
Next week, the conclusion to the Twilight film series hits theatres. That will be it. No more Twilight. Sorry, Twihards, no more sparkling Robert Pattinson. Twilight is one of those phenomena people are very passionate about (and not all that passion is love—in fact, some are downright nasty towards the franchise). When the books were coming out, almost everyone I talked to was head-over-heels for the series. It wasn’t until the movies started coming out that I noticed the tide turning. Now that the honeymoon is over, Twilight isn’t looking so great anymore. Why is that, when it was the must-read series of a few years ago? Is the series’ readership growing up and seeing that, actually, Edward isn’t the great male lead we all thought he was? Or were people just saying they loved it to be on board with everyone else and now they’re willing to admit their true feelings? Maybe it’s just that people are more vocal now about their dislike…
Whatever the reason, I find it interesting how the reception of Twilight has shifted. I am not ashamed to admit that I loved the books. Are they the best written series? No, not even close. Do they promote strong female characters that young girls should look up to? Certainly not. But, for better or worse, the books drew me in and kept me captivated until the very end, and when it comes right down to it that’s really what I’m looking for in a book.
I love when a book is able to toy with my emotions and make me have a very visceral reaction to what the characters are going through. The Twilight books did that for me. Twilight obviously takes things to the extreme—I’m sure most of you haven’t found yourselves in love with an actual vampire and running around with werewolves, am I right? But it touches on issues that I’m sure a lot of readers—especially female readers—can identify with: first loves, first heartbreaks, feeling awkward, feeling insecure, feeling out of place. These don’t necessarily make for strong characters, but, as terrifying as it might be to admit, there is a little bit of Bella in all of us. That’s right, I said it. Deal with it.
And then of course there is the other reason people love Twilight: the sexual tension. The anticipation. The first three books are basically prolonged foreplay… which is then ruined by the finger-waggy “sex=pregnancy, but it’s ok if you’re married” conclusion in book 4 (stay tuned for this rant in the next Popcorn and a Book). Forgetting about Breaking Dawn for the time being, the sexual tension in the first three books is pretty intense. I remember talking to a co-worker about Eclipse and we could not get these goofy smiles off our faces. The newness of Bella and Edward’s experiences together and the struggle to contain sexual impulses is hot. It just is. And that’s not to mention the whole forbidden-vampire-love aspect of it all. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to get into the psychology and symbolism of vampirism—you can read essays on Dracula for that). The Twilight books certainly got my young blood boiling and I can’t fault it for that. Then again, I was eighteen or nineteen when I was reading these books for the first time…
Now you will notice in the above paragraphs I was careful to say “books,” because everything I particularly enjoyed about the books died in the films. The emotional connection was lost, and the sexual tension fizzled instead of sizzled. I still enjoyed going to the theatre to see the films because it was fun seeing my obsession on the big screen, but the movies leave quite a bit to be desired. The acting is cringe-worthy for the most part and the directing is sub-par.
The Twlight film is especially poorly done. It’s just so choppy and awkward (much like Kristen Stewart). New Moon got a bit better. Maybe it’s because Jacob has more screen-time than Edward, and Taylor Lautner is a way better actor than Pattinson. Also, the flow of New Moon is much smoother and easier to watch. Eclipse certainly had more action then the previous two, but what I enjoyed most about this film was that it shows the backstory of the rest of the Cullen family (that was one of my favourite parts about the book version of Eclipse as well). I’m not really sure what happened with the Cullen family’s hair styles in this film though; their hair all seemed to get darker and greasier looking. And don’t even get me started on Bella’s engagement ring! Choppy editing and odd hairstyle choices aside, I still find the movies entertaining and will sit down and watch them when the mood strikes me.
Even though I’m over my Twilight fever, I’m not going to deny it ever existed. Heck, I even have a Twilight t-shirt or two still kicking around. My love of Twilight was a part of my teens, just as my love of Spice Girls was a part of my adolescence. And I don’t see anything wrong with that.
I’m sure you all have your opinions about Twilight, the book series and the movie saga, and I want to hear them. Share your thoughts in comments.
Stayed tuned for the next installment of Popcorn and a Book when I discuss Breaking Dawn the book with Breaking Dawn: Part 1 and Part 2 of the film franchise.
“Popcorn and a Book” is a bi-weekly meme I host where I will compare one book with its adapted film, looking at the content, the way it has been visualized, the experience, etc. If you would like to participate in this meme, please visit the “Popcorn and a Book” main page for details.