- Entertainment and Media»
- Movies & Movie Reviews
The Twilight Saga : A Review of the Twilight Movie Series
My youngest son, as a teenager, was the first to introduce me to Twilight from the Twilight Saga book series authored by Stephenie Meyer that the two movies Twilight and New Moon are based. My son read the book Twilight before the release of the movie Twilight in 2008 and raved about how great it was. He loved the book almost as much as he did J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter Book Series. When my teenage son begged for the next book in the Twilight Book Series I knew what that meant for we had been through similar with the Harry Potter Book Series and movies. My son collects book series and wanted to add Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Book Saga to his collection. This further meant he desired to see the movies; probably would end up watching them as they became available either at the movie theater, DVD rental, or by cable movie channel. That is when I decided, I better see what this was all about, and watch the movies. I did not view these films back to back. I did wait for them to be on DVD. As it turned out, I viewed the movies Twilight and New Moon before my son did. Yes, my son and I compared notes. We found out these movies expertly follow both book's plot and subplots, but do leave a few things out because movies do not have the length of time required to include everything that is in a book. If a movie did, the film would run at least 4 or more hours long instead of the 2 hour set as a length standard in the Entertainment Industry.
Twilight begins with a seventeen year old teenager named Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) who decides to move to Forks, Washington where her father, Charlie Swan (Billy Burke) is the local Sheriff. Bella's move is mostly precipitated by the fact that her step-father is a professional baseball player and her mother wants to be on the road with him during the baseball season. Bella has not seen her father in years, but they hit it off better than either thought, and Bella is reunited with her friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner), a Quileute Indian whose father is Charlie Swan's best friend, Billy Black (Gil Birmingham). Billy Black and Jacob live on the Indian Reservation which has its own school. Bella attends Fork's High School alone, not knowing any one, but soon makes friends with Eric Yorkie (Justin Chon) who claims to be the schools "eyes and ears" plus has his own "gang" that he hangs out with which Bella joins. The beginning of the movie primarily shows the ups and downs, difficulty, of the new kid in town fitting into the High School scene as a Junior.
The middle of the movie is about how Bella and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) become friends even though he is a vampire and does not have family approval for associating with her. Bella learns from Edward that vampires are a different type of being who has feelings and that all she was taught from Dracula movies and legends is not true in regards to the Cullen family. The Cullen family is a different kind of vampire and pro human life, only drink animal blood to sustain them.
The rest of this enchanting film is about Bella and Edward's relationship growing, blossoming into the "perfect teen romance" that most teenage girls dream about having. There is a difference, however, and that is Bella keenly knows Edward will never be able to grow old with her. The more she learns about Edward, the more different they both become. Unfortunately, the Cullens are not the only type of vampire for there are the others who do feed on human blood like in Bram Stoker's book Dracula. Unfortunately while the Cullens are playing a baseball game with Bella, these nasty hideous horrible vampires run across the Cullen Family and Bella which forces Bella to suddenly flee Forks for her safety. Not all vampires approve of a vampire having a human for a girlfriend or lover. Not all vampires can resist the tantalizing blood of a seventeen year old girl. The Cullen family finds themselves forced to protect Bella. Edward, who has feelings for Bella, takes up the mantle as her protector and promises to do all in his power to keep Bella safe which is exactly what Edward does.
New Moon begins almost where Twilight ended, right before Bella's eighteenth birthday. Bella is consumed with Edward's lack of aging. She does not want to grow older; does not want Edward to be young when she is an old woman. Bella has nightmares over this as her eighteenth birthday arrives. Bella complains to Edward about growing older and about his lack of doing this too. Edward points out he is actually 109 and they both joke about this as Edward wishes her a happy birthday on her special day. Even though Bella told all including her father not to do anything, they do something any way. Jacob Black, her friend from childhood, gifts Bella an Indian handmade dream-catcher. Edward's sister Alice Cullen (Ashley Greene) throws Bella a birthday party at the Cullen residence which ends up a fiasco when Bella accidentally gets a paper-cut from one of the gifts. This precipitates Edward forcibly protecting her from a newer vampire addition to the Cullen family circle and results in Bella getting more than a paper-cut that Edward's foster vampire father Dr. Carlisle Cullen (Peter Facinelli) has to stitch up. This incidence causes Edward to re-evaluate his and Bella's relationship. The Cullens feel it is time to relocate because their lack of aging is beginning to be noticed. Edward tells Bella he cannot be with her any more, to move on with her life and live it happily. Edward insists Bella promises to walk away from danger, and live for a very long time. Bella grudgingly promises. Tenderly, like William Shakespeare's fictional characters Romeo and Juliet, they bid each other farewell.
Bella dives into a very deep depression. She truly loves Edward with her entire heart. Her father worries about her and allows some leeway, but when her depression worsens he confronts her, demands she get back to living her life. To appease her father, she resumes her relationship with her High School friends and Jacob Black. Jacob does his best to be there for her by agreeing to help refurbish two old motorcycles that look as if they have no hope of ever running. Bella begins spending more and more of her time with Jacob, notices how buff he is becoming. Bella finds herself more and more attracted to Jacob as well as in need of his company to fill the void in her heart from missing Edward. They do get these old motorcycles to run, but Bella ends up coming close to harming herself when she drives one without actually knowing how. Bella finds that she feels connected to Edward when in danger and begins breaking her promise to Edward by doing dangerous things in order to feel Edward's presence. Jacob goes out of his way to be the understanding friend because he loves Bella. Jacob does all he can to protect Bella from herself, even with by gruffly supplying words of common sense, but Bella refuses to listen.
Suddenly and unexpectedly, Jacob becomes ill from a mysterious fever. Bella is told she cannot see him. Bella's depression returns. Her depression is not to the same degree as before even though she misses Jacob. Bella keeps asking about Jacob. Her father and Jacob's father reassure Bella he is getting better, but it will take much time. In the meantime, Bella continues to email Alice, Edward's sister. They are now email pals. It is her only connection with the Cullen family. Bella continues to leave caring telephone messages for Jacob throughout his mysterious illness. Jacob does not telephone back. This bothers Bella, who finally decides she has waited long enough and visits Jacob's home. She finds Jacob odd and more muscular, but not sick. He tells her to go away; he cannot be with her. Bella demands to know why.
The plot of New Moon then shifts to how Bella gets to the bottom of Jacob's mysterious illness which turns out to be from a hereditary Quileute Indian gene that some of the men are born with, but it does not alter them or make them sick until puberty or a vampire shows up in the area. When the Cullen family left, Jacob had not gone through puberty enough for it to affect him, but when Victoria and her vampire bad guys unexpectedly show up for revenge upon the Cullen family, Jacob finds himself transformed into a werewolf and that anger precipitates the mutation. It is the Quileute Indian werewolves that chase Victoria and her vampire henchmen out of the area, keep them from reaching Bella. These werewolves protect the Quileute Indian lands and Fork, Washington area from vampires. Jacob having the werewolf gene joins the werewolf pack and has no time for anyone or anything else. When Bella finds this truth, she reassures Jacob she likes him, that being a werewolf does not matter, and is a remarkable gift to have. She further promises to do nothing to anger him to the point of morphing. She had noticed anger makes these Indian men with the "wolf" gene become a werewolf (no full moon required) when she slapped one in the face several times when he said something she did not like. Jacob relieved by Bella's outlook regarding his werewolf problem, agrees to resume their friendship.
Jacob vies to move their friendship to the next level as boyfriend and girlfriend, but Bella keeps him at arms distance as the friend she needs him to be. It is not what Jacob wants, but he makes it clear he is willing to wait for her to get completely over Edward. Unexpectedly, Alice Cullen, Edward's sister, returns and stays with Bella at the Swan residence. She is very worried about "visions" she has seen about Bella. Alice has also come to inform Bella of a horrific decision made by Edward that will cause his demise. Edward plans to let the world know he is a vampire who would indeed provoke the Volturi, the closest vampires have to royalty who call the shots in the vampire world, to murder Edward for disobeying their laws (rules). They have only two, vampires "do not make spectacles" of themselves and never allow humans to know vampires exist, kill inconspicuously for blood. The Volturi are the most feared in the vampire world. Even Victoria's group does not dare go against the powerful Volturi. Alice has come to recruit Bella. She knows Bella is the only person who can save Edward from making this terrible mistake.
The rest of New Moon is a grand tale of Bella rescuing Edward from himself and the Volturi in Volterra, Italy, the headquarters of the Volturi, during Volterra's annual holiday celebration of eliminating all of the vampires out of this city. Alice assists Bella in this daring rescue of Edward and the entire Cullen family from the Volturi wrath by sharing with one of the Volturi, Aro (Michael Sheen) a vision about Bella's future. Aro aware Alice's visions are real, about what will happen, is surprised, yet pleased by the vision; inspired by it to the point where he and the other Volturi insist the vision must become a realty because no human can know of a vampire's existence without being turned. They mandate Bella must become a vampire and give a deadline. If this does not happen, the entire Cullen family and Bella will be exterminated. Alice promises to personally turn Bella. Edward is appalled and tries to change the Volturi's mind about Bella becoming a vampire, but Bella sides with Alice explaining how much she wants to do this because of the strength of her love for Edward. Aro and the Volturi are swayed by Bella's passionate words, surprised she would give up her life for Edward, one of them, a vampire. No the movie does not end with Bella being a vampire. I thought it would too, that is until viewing the scene of Bella and Edward back in Forks, Washington where they are talking with Jacob who is glad Bella is well, but upset that Edward and the Cullen family have returned. This is where Jacob reminds Edward of a treaty between his tribe and the Cullen family; points out why no Cullen can turn Bella. Edward, however, knows of a loophole that will save the Cullen family from breaking the treaty with the Quileute Indian tribe.
The ending of New Moon is happy, yet sad. A good one, but leaves many questions unanswered, more so than Twilight 's ending. Each Twilight Saga movie leaves the plot open enough to continue the storyline forward in the next movie of this well scripted movie series.
Eclipse, the third movie in the Twilight Saga was released June, 2010. This third film like its predecessor begins where New Moon ended. It is as good as the first two in this series. Eclipse covers the end of Bella's Senior year in High School plus her finally making a definite choice between Jacob and Edward. The Volturi send representatives to investigate Seattle and Forks, Washington. The Volturi want to make certain that their will is being abided. The representatives find much they do not approve including the cause of the Seattle killings, newborn vampires. These newborns were created without Volturi approval. The Volturi representatives do not approve of a newborn army. This investigation leads them to what is occurring in Forks. They do not approve of the Cullen's truce with the Quileute Indian tribe. The Volturi do not understand how werewolves and vampires can be friends as well as neighbors plus battle well together as an army. The Volturi do not approve of having werewolves as allies. They further remind Bella and the Cullens of the promise to turn Bella. The Volturi refuse to settle for anything less and to go against the Volturi is a death sentence. Bella and Edward make wedding plans with Alice's assistance.
Breaking Dawn Part 1 , the fourth of the Twilight Saga, was released November 18, 2011 in the USA. It does continue the storyline, begins where Eclipse ended. This movie answers the age old question what happens when a human marries a vampire and becomes pregnant? Bella's decision to keep the pregnancy causes quite a stir at Forks; almost causes a breaking of the truce between the Cullens and the Quileute Indian tribe.
Sam (Chaske Spencer) and Jacob find themselves at odds over Bella's unusual pregnancy that progresses much faster than the typical nine months. Dr. Carlisle Cullen acts as Bella's gynecologist/obstetrician throughout her pregnancy. Jacob, Seth (Booboo Stewart) and Leah (Julia Jones) become a secondary wolf pack as they go against Sam and the Quileute Indian tribe by protecting the Cullen Family, Bella and her unborn child. Sam wants Bella and Edward's baby murdered upon birth because of the possibility of the baby becoming a blood-thirsty monster who cannot control the bloodlust.
Jacob finds himself making some very difficult decisions, especially for a Quileute Indian tribe werewolf. He knows he is placing his love for Bella above his tribe. Jacobs love for Bella wants her to survive the pregnancy. He sees first hand by visiting Bella how much Bella wants her baby. Jacob supports Bella's decision to the best of his ability. Seth and Leah follow Jacob, pointing out he needs someone to watch his back because of Sam, and it is better to be a pack of three than one. All three werewolves find themselves in the oddest predicament of keeping a vampire family safe while a human is obviously having a half-human and half-vampire baby; making extraordinary decisions they would not make under "normal" circumstances. They want to maintain the peace between the Cullen family and their tribe; avoid a war that could cost many lives on both sides.
The most unexpected occurs toward the end. There are two endings, the last occurring during the credits. Both endings are definitely vehicles that move the plot forward and toward the film content in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2.
Breaking Dawn Part 2, the fifth installment of this movie series, was released as promised to the public on November 16, 2012. This film's storyline sweetly moves the main characters forward, allowing them to grow and mature. The plot and subplots bring up how difficult it is for a new vampire to adjust to the new supernatural abilities, life as a vampire, as well as being a parent. This film poignantly shares Bella's difficulties regarding this.
Breaking Dawn Part 2 further aptly portrays Edward and Bella as vampire parents rearing their daughter Renesmee, half vampire and half human. Their marriage has its ups and downs. Rearing someone like Renesmee is no easy task for she is not like an ordinary child. She is the first of her kind for the Cullens to associate. Like most babies, Renesmee did not come with an instruction manual. Their daughter gifts her parents many concerns.
Renesmee (played by 10 actresses for the different maturation ages) has an unusual growth spurt which concerns Jacob and all of the Cullens. They fear she is aging too rapidly, but after becoming acquainted with another half-vampire, half-human they find out this unusual rapid maturation is normal. Renesmee (mostly Mackenzie Foy) is destined for a very long life even though her being a baby and childhood was unusually extremely short.
This movie further brings up how an ordinary grandparent would react to such a "special" granddaughter and vampire transformation of a daughter. Fortunately for Renesmee, Charlie, Bella's father, loves her and is glad to have the opportunity to know his granddaughter. Charlie does notice a change in his daughter, but seeing how happy Bella is with Edward, Charlie does not make a big deal out of it. Bella's father is grateful to see Bella, be able to visit.
This final installment of the Twilight Saga reveals more about the Volturi and other vampire clans allied with them. There is a violent battle: the Cullens and their allies vs. the Volturi. Throughout the entire movie it explains exactly what the werewolf imprint is plus how close and strong the bond imprinting forges between both werewolf and the imprinted person. The ending is like how most teenagers prefer; sappy, happy and uplifting with Renesmee (Christie Burke) an adult.
The five Twilight Saga films have been rated PG-13. These are definitely movies for teenagers and older. These films include a nice twist about vampires and werewolves by taking out the super scary monster aspect and portraying these beasts as something more in line with the classic folk tale Beauty and the Beast where the beast has deep feelings and is human where it matters - on the inside.
Have teenagers at home? Try Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn Part 1 and Breaking Dawn Part 2 as a form of quality time with them. Some of my friends who have teenage boys and girls have used this approach for quality family fun time. They claim it worked out splendidly, especially when popcorn and a drink are supplied.
This movie series shares a well developed story; well worth the time viewing. All five installments of the Twilight Saga movie series are on DVD. I highly recommend these movies for the adults who are still teens at heart.