Twilight
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Twilight: New Moon
Director: Chris Weitz
Twilight: Eclipse
Director: David Slade
Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I
Director: Bill Condon

Writers: Melissa Rosenberg, Stephenie Meyer (novel)

Stars: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattison, Taylor Lautner, Sarah Clarke, Matt Bushell, Billy Burke, Gil Birmingham, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone, Kellan Lutz, Nikki Reed, Chaske Spencer, Mackenzie Foy, Michael Welch, Justin Chon, Christian Serratos, Cam Gigandet, Michael Sheen, Jamie Campbell Bower, Christopher Heyerdahl, Rachelle Lefevre, Bryce Dallas Howard, Edi Gathegi, Anna Kendrick, Ty Olsson

Good gods–did I really spend over twelve hours watch Twilight movies?

For those of you wondering, yes, I am a masochist. I read the books a long time ago, but I still remember not thinking they were anything special. Here goes nothing . . . .

Twilight has a decent enough beginning, with a voiceover by Bella (Kristen Stewart). It sets the tone for the whole series: too much tell, not enough show.

I remember what it’s like moving into a new area, starting at a new school–the kids are never as nice as Eric (Justin Chon), Mike (Michael Welch), Jessica (Anna Kendrick), and Angela (Christian Serratos). Yet Bella ignore their friendly overtures (and attempts to date her) to obsess over Edward (Robert Pattison), who won’t even speak to her at first. What’s up with that?

Once Edward decides he likes Bella, he turns into a stalker. He chases her down to tell her they shouldn’t be friends, then leaves, only to find her again to tell her that if she was smart she would stay away . . . but he keeps seeking her out. “I like watching you sleep” is downright creepy.

Too, despite being from a larger city (Phoenix), Bella goes into Port Angeles at night and doesn’t know enough to avoid walking through lonely alleys by herself. She went into Port Angeles in the first place to buy a book she found via the internet. Once she brings the book home, she flips through it briefly to find search terms she can google. What’s up with that? I preferred the book version, where Jacob told her the legends while they walked on the beach.

In the first film, I still felt sorry for Bella, who was a normal seventeen year old, and only wanted a normal relationship, but fell in love with Edward, who couldn’t give it to her.

She puts her trust in the vamps to protect her, then slips away from them to meet James (Cam Gigandet) as soon as he threatens her mother. Does she really believe he’ll let her mom go?

I understand why Belle is emotionally immature–she’s seventeen. For real. But why does Edward (emotionally) act like he’s seventeen, too? He’s 109. Has he learned nothing in all that time? Bella is already talking about how “People die a little bit each day . . . ”–she’s obsessed with her physical appearance, looking older than Edward–she is very, very shallow. Also a bit suicidal it seems.

The Cullen’s house first appears here, and it is nicely replicated from the book, down to Edward’s room having no bed. It’s both isolated and beautiful.

The vampire vs. vampire fight scene is well-handled. People, vampires, and stuff gets destroyed.

The awkwardness of a human in the group of vampires is well-handled, particularly by the actors playing vampires: Jasper (Jackson Rathbone), Rosalie (Nikki Reed), and Emmet (Kellan Lutz).

Billy Burke does an excellent job as Bella’s father Charlie–the best scenes in Twilight are those between him and Kristen Stewart. The running gag about the pepper spray is entertaining, as are his references to being a cop and having a gun throughout all the movies.

Alice (Ashley Greene) comes off as suitably odd and vulnerable, and her boyfriend Jasper as appropriately protective. They make an excellent onscreen couple. James is very threatening, you believe in his ruthlessness and ability to kill.

New Moon also has a nice beginning–the dream sequence plays on Bella’s obsession with getting old, just as she’s about to reach ancient eighteen.

Kudos to Jacob (Taylor Lautner) on how much more buff he is. There’s a huge transformation described in the books, and he mirrors it nicely.

The Volturi are introduced in this movie as refined, elegant, patrons of the arts, and deeply respectful of vampire laws. Also very powerful and not to be messed with. Then you meet the head Volturi Aro (Michael Sheen), who is Evil with a capital “E”–just a glance from him makes me shiver.

Marcus (Christopher Heyerdahl) and Caius (Jamie Campbell Bower) are also members of the Volturi but they barely have anything to say. They do look impressively scary, though.

Note to Edward (who should know better): the best way to get a teenager to do something is to tell them not to do it. Go ahead and tell Bella not to do anything reckless . . . .

Note to everyone: Jake is Bella’s best friend, she finds him attractive, he can lift a dirt bike, he’s totally into her, and Edward (who pushes her away every time they kiss) has left her. Why doesn’t Bella just date Jake? Other than the series would be very short. Never mind–Dad likes Jake, so he’s totally unacceptable.

Once Bella is in on the whole werewolf thing–her give and take with Jacob is great: “I’m not the right type of monster for you?”

I know James was a super-tracker, but he found Bella’s address in Phoenix by looking at her school records in Forks. If he could do that, why can’t Victoria find her address in Forks?

By the end of New Moon, you would think Bella would be crippled, given the amount of damage she’s taken.

Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) shows his creepiness here–very nice performance. The actor can do an amazing amount just with his eyes.

Eclipse opens with the Cullens and the werewolf pack failing to catch Victoria, who is still at large, because they can’t cooperate with one another. Tension between the two groups is high, and the slightest border infraction leads to a major tussle.

The increased vampire activity is causing more and more of the indians to turn into werewolves.

Jacob explains about the mental bond shared by the pack, and concept of “imprinting”–that the proper mate triggers a kind of love at first sight. This will, of course, be important later.

Meanwhile, Bella has convince Edward to turn her into a vampire. He only agrees if she will marry him first.

Deaths in the woods that appear to be animal attacks are actually the work of newly made vampires. Bella convinces the Cullens and werewolf pack to work together to protect her and Charlie from the increase threat. There is a great training sequence showing everyone how to handle fighting the newborn vampires (the younger a vampire is, the stronger they are).

Jake, Bella, and Edward in a tent in the snow–Bella falls asleep, and Jake and Edward have a heart-to-heart about her. She sleeps through it?!? Sure. Of course, no one expected it would be cold and brought extra blankets, either. Winter in the mountains, whoda thunk it?

Bella is fine once she’s awake–dashing through the snow without a jacket.

The battle is well staged–starting with the attacking vampires walking through a body of water, not swimming. The cuts are a little fast, but this isn’t an R-rated movie and that holds down the details. The violence of the attach comes across well, as does the speed and power of the vampires and the werewolves, and some really nice maneuvers.

You know, it’s a good thing vampires are so incendiary. Poof!

The flashback showing Jasper’s history is insightful and well-done–I’m liking Jackson Rathbone more and more. There’s a bright point.

Bella’s mom seems overly pleased that her eighteen year old daughter is getting married, but she’s always been a ditzy character. The vampires at the wedding are very pretty–and the other guests actually notice!

I’ve never been to a wedding where so many people got to make speeches–very odd. The dancing was nice and inconsistent, like a real event.

Bella as a character failed for me yet again on the Alice packed her suitcases and she was surprised that the contents were not what she wanted. Has Bella met Alice?

The pacing for Breaking Dawn Part I was surprisingly well done–it kept building. Since I wasn’t sure there was enough material there for two movies, I was pleasantly surprised.

These movies are for fans of the Twilight series. All others need not apply.

At least I have fulfilled my angst quotient for the next twelve months.

Stephenie Meyer got a producer credit on Breaking Dawn Parts I & II. Is there anything she can’t do?

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