Editor’s note: Because of the press screening schedule of Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2, we are unable to bring you a review by press time. Instead, our reviewer has written this essay on the end of the popular movie franchise.
Here’s my favorite story about being a movie critic: during my first year of writing for MauiTime, I wrote a scathing review of the first Twilight movie. I hadn’t read any of the Stephenie Meyer books the film franchise-to-be was based on, wasn’t aware of the literary phenomenon of all things Bella Swan and couldn’t have cared less.
I saw Twilight the weekend it opened in November 2008, thought it was a genuinely bad movie, wrote a negative critique and moved on. Everything about the film underwhelmed me: the rotten acting, the laughable special effects, the vampires who lack fangs or powers of transformation but sparkle, the lack of chemistry between the romantic leads and the irredeemably hilarious sight of vampires playing baseball during a thunderstorm.
I honestly thought the movie was another Eragon, by which I mean it seemed like another wannabe Harry Potter book-to-film franchise, that would die after opening weekend. To my utter amazement, audiences worldwide loved the movie.
They didn’t just love it, they ADORED it. Among fans of the film was a classroom of Kihei Charter School middle school students. Their teacher read my article aloud and then told his class to write me a letter in response. These young students found the opportunity for revenge too good to pass up and the MauiTime mailbox was loaded with dozens of heartfelt declarations of love for Twilight and hatred for yours truly.
MauiTime published the letters and many of them were gems: My favorite quotes were “Just because you’re a movie critic, doesn’t mean you have to be so critical,” “you need to read the books so you know what you’re talking about!” and “If you never made a movie, you are in no position to criticize the special effects!” These kids meant business and they were pissed.
All except one, apparently the one boy in the class, who wrote me, “Dear Barry, Great review. Keep up the good work. Love, Lars.” I hope that kid becomes president some day.
I’ve gone back and re-watched the first Twilight, partly to see if there was something I missed and because of the guilt I felt for making a class full of cute kids so angry. My assessment after a second viewing: my one-star review was too generous.
I went to see the sequels with an open mind and found that they ranged from lousy (New Moon), awful (Eclipse) and bad but better than expected (Breaking Dawn Part 1). As of this writing, I haven’t seen Breaking Dawn Part 2 but, seriously, even if it’s a surprise entry for best picture of the year, this series has stunk too long for the last movie to redeem four years of vampire movies that truly suck.
The Twi-hards are entitled to their intense love for either Team Edward or Team Jacob (why no love for Team Charlie, Bella’s dad and the only smart person in the entire series?). Being a lifetime fan of the Friday the 13th and Police Academy series, I know what it’s like to love a cluster of movies that are truly, unapologetically stupid.
I was sorry to see Harry Potter go, since the last of those films was so exceptional. As for Twilight, let’s not kid each other. The Twi-hards won’t have to mourn very long. Meyer is alive and well and Summit Entertainment won’t let the next 10 years go by without the highly heralded return of their monstrously lucrative franchise.
There’s no way Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart would turn down $20 million each to star in Son of Twilight or Twilight 9: The Search for More Money. For Pete’s sake, what else is Taylor Lautner going to do?
Make no mistake, the producers of these cash cows aren’t stupid and this series will continue onward. The inevitable return of Twilight, and my having to sit through another of these movies, will once again give those Kihei middle schoolers their revenge.
Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2
Rated PG-13 / 115 Min.