Before we begin, I wanted to get take a minute to mention the real-life Quileute tribe whose culture was an inspiration for the show. While the films brought attention to the real-life town of Forks, Washington, the tribe hasn’t seen the same benefit. And with that, I want to promote the Quileute Move to Higher Ground, a program designed to relocate community facilities and housing above the reach of tsunamis and floods. I’ve given a little, and I encourage to do so if you can.
So, I’ve been watching the videos Amanda the Jedi made looking at the Twilight Saga. This inspired not only to get back into vampire fiction, but also to rewatch the saga. And with the Twilight Renaissance, I wanted to look back at this icon of my childhood. I read the first two books and objectively loved them. But because of gender roles, I felt obligated to hate on the series. With the passage of time and the Twilight Renaissance, I thought it would be interesting to look back at some of the best parts of this dumb-fun series.
10. The Fight Scenes
For a series that prioritizes drama and storytelling over action sequences, they really know how to choreograph fight scenes. There’s very little close-up shots and the choreography flows beautifully. And when we get full-fledged battles in Eclipse and Breaking Dawn: Part II, it can get intense; with the latter being entirely nuts that had me laughing. But while these don’t hold a candle to the Battle of Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers, you can tell they were adequately made.
9. The Leads Aren’t As Bad As We Made Them Up
In my rewatching, I realized how much the notorious acting from the three leads wasn’t as bad as many critics made it out to be. And looking at two of their careers over time, it shows that this was the wrong project-but they make it work. Kristen Stewart has seemed to embrace herself authentically as a queer icon with projects like Happiest Season, the Charlie’s Angels reboot, and Spencer. And then there’s Robert Pattinson who’s been killing it with Cosmopolis, Map to the Stars, The Lighthouse-and while I’ve only seen a part of The Batman, Pattinson seems adept to the role.
8. Jacob in the First Half of New Moon
Before continuing, I want to clarify that I am not Team Jacob. From the latter half of New Moon to the rest of it, Jacob is a raging nice guy who constantly negs Bella. But for the first half of New Moon, I really liked him. He and Bella had fun old friends reuniting chemistry. And while Team Jacob felt dead on arrival, when he helps her from the motorbike crash and is unfazed by the blood, I could see it.
If this story were better written, I’d imagine it would’ve used this to show how far off Jacob has gone and a cautionary tale for “nice guys”; like you might not have the girl, but you lost something better in a friendship like that. It’s a testament to Taylor Lautner’s acting repertoire.
7. Bella as a Vampire
While it was an inevitability, the scene where Bella goes out hunting in her first foray as a vampire is a wild trip. From running in the forest to climbing a mountain with her fingernails, it feels reminiscent of the scene in Spider-Man where Tobey McGuire embraces his powers. It makes me wish that there was a story centered on a fledgling vampire in this world.
6. The Volturi
When I was teen, I liked the style of the Volturi. The governing body of the vampire world has this cool, Victorian feel to them. And while not every member is well casted, there are two that stand out. Dakota Fanning is cold and plays Jane as a flavor of sadistic that feels deadpan and dry, but compelling, nonetheless. On the other end, you have Michael Sheen as Aro, the leader who’s just chewing each scene that he’s in. There are also interesting details, such as them having receptionists aspiring to be turned and luring tourists to their chambers. They were a compelling edition that added to the drama.
5. Team Alice
I want to thank Amanda the Jedi for getting me hooked onto Team Alice. Throughout the movies, you get this feeling that Alice cares for Bella a little more than Edward ever does in the movie. She goes all out for her birthday and wedding and is even more bubbly when around Bella. And in Breaking Dawn, it hurts to see Alice disconnected from Bella. Combined with Ashley Greene and Kristen Stewart’s acting and I really wish we got sparkly sapphic vampires here.
4. The Soundtrack
I was talking to a few of my friends who aren’t as friendly to the series as I am, and one of the things we found common ground on was the soundtrack was pretty good. The first movie has amazing hits like Muse’s “Supermassive Black Hole” and The Black Ghosts “Full Moon.” Then there’s artists like Radiohead, Death Cab, and Christina Perri that provide a stellar soundtrack for the franchise.
3. They Had Pretty Good Actors in This
While the leads did seem to be unfit to this, there were a lot of actors in the movies that were consistently good. We get fun little stars introduced with Anna Kendrick and Noel Fisher are enjoyable in the roles they have. And then you have the Cullens — a whole family well casted. Ashley Greene and Kellan Lutz are having the time of their lives. Peter Facinelli is brilliantly casted as Carlisle, giving an undead character soul.
2. The Scene Where Bella Mourns Edward Leaving
This scene right here is breathtaking. It’s Bella watching out the window, missing Edward and the camera rotates around her as time passes. With scenes spliced in of Bella screaming in her sleep-in agony, it makes the quiet parts hit harder than the screams.
A lot of actors in these movies are true diamonds in the rough, and Kristen Stewart says so much without any dialogue.
1. Billy Burke
If you gathered all the Twi-hards and all the Twilight haters into a room, they would come together and agree that Billy Burke is the best actor in the series. Consistently throughout the movies, he’s grounded into the world. He feels like the audience’s avatar and someone they can truly relate to.
And in many ways, it’s heartbreaking. You have this average Joe who’s reuniting with his daughter. And as she embraces this world that he doesn’t understand and has been surrounding him, that she will outlive him for an eternity. There’s a scene in the first movie where Bella leaves to protect him and you feel how good of an actor Billy Burke was. And it makes me curious to check out more of his work.
And there are the roses that were worth the pricks from the thorny mess that is the Twilight saga. I’ve actually imagined this list back in 2014; and here we are eight years later and I’m getting the same feeling when I finished the marathon. It was like the end of something big. And whether you were a Twi-hard, a hardcore hater, or like me and embrace the cheesy fun, this really was a cultural juggernaut.