Friday, August 24, 2012

Book-to-Movie Classics: The Twilight Series

I am an avid lover of vampires, werewolves, witches/wizards, ghosts, shapeshifters, and all things supernatural and odd.  Knowing my love for vamps, my mother gave me the Twilight series as a Christmas present.  It was supposed to be all the rage.  I started to read--and was almost immediately bored out of my mind.  That's no slight to Stephenie Meyer; I've heard her other books are underrated and well-written.  But the yarn of crap that is the Twilight series makes it easy to hate.  It's not just the purple prose, the superfluous storylines, or even the werewolves (who prove to be more awesome than the vamps or humans)--it's the main characters, Bella and Edward.

Isabella is what you'd call a sap.  Her backbone is nearly nonexistent--until she wants to blow up at her doting and attentive parents or defend her passive-aggressive vampire boyfriend.  Is it disgusting to anyone else that Edward, while he looks seventeen, is actually 100 years old digging on a teenager?  And what is with this super-soft, totally unscary sparkling Meyer vampires do?  With a guy shimmering in the sun, how can he possibly be perceived as a dangerous bloodsucker? Why call the series Twilight if vamps are out walking around all day...?  And what exactly is wrong with being with Jacob--who is definitely more human than supernatural, defends the land, is sexy as hell, and genuinely loves Isabella?  To cop out from the obvious choice for a prosperous and happy life and pursue the perverted, possessive, entirely-too-emotional bad boy seems to be the all-too-typical response to teenager fanfare.  Perhaps that's why these stories have become such a success.

While I am definitely a romantic (the jury is still out on whether or not I'm hopeless), I can't subscribe to Meyer's subplot of one soulmate for every person.  It's too simplistic for a relationship that seems to be scraping for intimacy and respect between the two protagonists.  And what does that imply to the young ones this series is written for?  It inspires a hopelessness when that bad boy disappears--that life will never be right again because he, that jerk who told you who to hang out with and where to be, has gone from your world never to return.  And he was your last chance--even though you're only like seventeen on the cusp of the rest of your life.

The movies, at least, serve up much more entertainment.  Kristen Stewart does a sufficient job of being as sappy as the character she portrays, and Robert Pattinson appears equally young with all the air of maturity that his character should possess as a 100-yr old vampire.  However, the strong acting, in my opinion, only does well to point out the significant flaws of the franchise.  The weakness in character and storylines are emphasized and are saved only by the filmmaker's ability to engage the audience with a heavy budget of special effects and predictable action.  The shining star in this series though is Dakota Fanning, playing the evilest of the Volturie, Jane.  Catch her in Twilight: New Moon and Twilight: Eclipse.

Ultimately, this series would have been salvageable if not for the vampire baby that sucks Bella dry from the inside.  How can a human have a vampire's baby if vampires are dead?  And how would the baby grow up?  Isn't it vampire too, meaning that it would stay a baby forever?  That part of Meyer's vampire lore does not coagulate.  And coming up with an intense respect and love for the vampires depicted by Anne Rice, I find it almost impossible to subscribe to the ideas Meyer portrays in her book.  Vampires should not be out in daylight, much less sparkle in the sun and profess undying love to a human whose blood is insanely intoxicating to you.  Coming out at night is the vampire mantra; it can not be altered simply so that a century old vampire can attend high school.

2.5/5 suns: the filmmaker's ability to engage me in some relatively entertaining action is the only reason Twilight earns the other 1.5 suns.


  1. way harsh! i LOVE the twilight movies and the books.the actors are super awesome and the books are real page turners! its not right to down the series jus because she is trying to put a different spin on vamps than others did. Team Edward!

  2. Thank you for your comment. I knew this was a beloved franchise when I wrote this, but I want to reiterate this review is no slight to the author, who is clearly quite talented. Twilight is popular for a reason; that reason just seems to have eluded me. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Hahaha! Hahaha! Sorry, but although harsh, it is very true. And I am, rather was, completely drawn into the Twilight books. My imagination gave the characters added appeal that I feel they lacked entirely on scene. The movies were what ruined my Twilight high, although the mockery of vampires waltzing around during the day was equally disarming. I believe vampires are the greatest portrayal of sexual deviance and lust. I was not, however, aroused by a glittering vampire in the sun...

    1. I have to agree, Coco. Vampire lore was originally written as erotica and has many sexual innuendos woven into its main themes. Night, of course, is typically when intimate encounters happen, but there are many beyond that. The penetration of the jugular vein in the neck was a parallel to the arteries traveling through the inner thighs that, by sending blood to the sexual regions, engorge both male and female sex organs. For quite awhile, conservative women were forbidden to show their necklines, and having it caressed by a vampire was again an subtle hint of sex. Vampire lore that eradicated night stalkers with Christian symbols like crucifixes and wooden stakes were descriptive of the "unholy" association premarital sex had been given by the Catholic (and subsequently all Christian) churches. These of course are just a few of the parallels, but removing the vampire's restriction to the night also removes what little erotic intoxication they may hold--as the Twilight series' apparent lack of sex clearly demonstrates.