Twilight: Breaking Wind

Twilight: Breaking Wind

“I know how this ends. I don’t have to stick around to watch it.” – Jacob, Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 1

Yes, folks, it’s that time of year again. Time for another Twilight movie and another bitter, bitter review from me.  (See my previous installments here, here and here!) This year’s installment is Breaking Dawn. This, fourth book in the Twilight series was broken into two movies and honestly, it really needed it. I mean, part 1 was at least 7 hours long and.. wait.. what? It was under 2 hours?

Goddamn.

Ok, here we go.

[SPOILER ALERT: I plan on reviewing this in detail and will give away all the major story lines. Yes. All one of them. If you're saving yourself for this movie...well, I'll be honest, you probably don't want to read this review anyway...]

You know, I’ve talked in a lot of detail before about my concerns about this series’ messages to young women. The main character, Bella, is almost without personality and time and again, Bella lets other people, particularly the two male leads, make all her decisions for her. She subsumes her own wants and desires for her stalker boyfriend and what he wants. Until she gets into trouble and he needs to save her.

"Get the hell out of my room, sparkly boy. I'm trying to get some sleep."

I’ve recently been re-watching the old Muppet movies in preparation for the new  movie coming out next week and it occurred to me that Ms. Piggy is a significantly better role model than Bella. Check out this scene from The Great Muppet Caper where Piggy takes on 3 cat burglars on her own.

Also, in the original Muppet movie, Piggy escapes the ropes she’s tied up in, saves Kermit from kidnappers who want to scramble his brain, then gets a call from her agent with a part in a commercial and blows Kermit off for her career. (No, I’m not making that up.)

And I’m pretty sure Piggy’s “I’m Gonna Always Love You” song in the Muppets Take Manhattan is nothing less than an anthem for feminism.

But I digress. Breaking Dawn maintains a lot of the same issues in terms of Bella’s personality but I think we’ve talked a whole lot about that already. In fact, I recently read an article that makes the argument that a weak character like Bella is more representative of the issues a typical adolescent girl faces and provides a framework for a conversation about feminism and strong women. I’m not sure I fully buy into it but I understand the point.

No, when I walked away from Breaking Dawn, Part 1, my biggest complaint was the last 2 words of the title: Part One.

This movie did *not* need to be made in two parts. I know that in terms of size, the Breaking Dawn novel is about the same as the last Harry Potter book. That doesn’t mean it has enough story to serve 2 movies.  Full disclosure: Part of my ire is definitely related to the fact that I will have to do YET ANOTHER GODDAMN TWILIGHT REVIEW next year.  But Breaking Dawn simply doesn’t have enough content. This movie could EASILY have been cut down to include the entire book in a single movie.

SEVEN things happen in this movie. Seven. That’s it. Don’t believe me? Fine. Let’s do this:

Hello, puppy.

What happens in Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 1

1. Edward & Bella get married

The movie starts out strong. Very strong. And by strong, I mean it starts with Jacob finding out about the wedding, taking his shirt off and running off into the rain. COME ON NOW. Awesome! Taylor Lautner’s abs really pull off a compelling performance in this scene. I think they should be nominated for an Oscar. Ok, that would be silly. Golden Globe. Eight Golden Globes. And a People’s Choice award for each of his pecs.

Ahem. But we quickly leave the world of the werewolves (probably for the best – wet dog – hoo!) and move quickly into Bella’s wedding preparations. Note: This is the only quick transition that happens in the movie.  Also, when I say Bella’s wedding preparations, I really mean Edward’s family telling Bella what she wants for the wedding.

Bella spends most of the beginning of the movie looking distinctly uncomfortable. I think Kristen Stewart is trying to express Bella’s nervousness about losing her childhood and moving so quickly into a huge commitment at a young age, but she really seems to mostly look… gassy. The first 20 minutes or so of the movie are when I came up with the title for this post. What? You think I just wanted to make a fart joke?

I'm never eating at Chili's again.

Edward tries to feel Bella out about her fears and tells her a nerve-calming story about how at some point in his past, he fed on and killed humans. But it was all bad humans – men who were rapists and murders. So that’s OK. Thanks Dexter. Why don’t you go to your bachelor party now?

Bella’s nervousness translates into a bad dream where she and Edward are getting married and end up somehow killing everyone they know and love. Not your typical cold feet but like many of the scenes in the movie, the dream really has nothing to do with what else happens or what Bella is really nervous about.  What her flatulence really signifies is her concern that after the wedding will be the first time that:

2.  Edward & Bella have sex

Eddie surprises Bella with a trip to Brazil for their honeymoon. Turns out the Cullens own an island with a gorgeous house on the beach. Bella is obviously nervous when they get there and Edward suggests some hot vamp-on-human skinny dipping. You see, they’ve decided NOT to turn Bella into a vampire for the honeymoon but still do the nasty, a fact that Jacob freaked out about at the wedding. He was worried that Edward’s sparkly vampire cock would murder a human female. Bella obviously has similar concerns. Her new husband is (literally) a cold blooded killer who could exsanguinate her at worst, beat the ever living crap out of her at best. But, she puts these fears aside by combing her hair, shaving her legs and telling herself not to be a coward.

As it turns out, Bella’s fears were pretty well-founded. Sex with Edward is extraordinarily rough. Bella wakes up to a destroyed bed, Edward having torn apart the headboard and most of the pillows in their passion. Upon realizing that he’s actually hurt Bella (she has bruises on her back and arms – but none she can’t cover up! Yay!), Edward refuses to have sex with her anymore. Bella insists that she enjoyed the sex and wants to continue but Edward cannot bring himself to hurt her.  Cue what I think is supposed to be a funny montage of the following days where Bella tries to seduce Edward with skimpy outfits and chess games until it finally works. He gives in and presumably spends the next few weeks honeymooning the HELL out of the girl.

One day, a couple of weeks later, Bella is eating some chicken and finds herself running to the bathroom to throw up. She isn’t sure what’s wrong until she realizes she’s missed a period because, yep, you guessed it:

3. Bella is pregnant with some sort of half-vampire, half human demon baby

We'd like to help but we're out of hair product!

Now. You would think this would mean the movie would start to get interesting, right? I mean surely this is the crux of the plot! How did she get pregnant? Are there any other cases of this happening? Will she be able to carry the baby to full term? Get the Scooby gang on it! Giles must have something in his library to help them figure out what is going on! Oh wait, sorry, no. This isn’t that sort of vampire show.

Instead, they go back to Edward’s house and his family is all ‘Herp Derp Derp. We’ve no idea what will happen now. It’s probably a demon that will kill you dead. What’s a book? I have Google image search!” (I’m paraphrasing. A little.)

As it turns out, they’re at least partly right. Lil’ Cullen grows at a ridiculous pace and starts starving Bella of nutrients. She insists she can carry it to term, in spite of everything Dr. Cullen (Edward’s conveniently medical doctor dad) is telling her. A whole lot of this storyline made me think about Larry Niven’s short story “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex” but maybe that was because I was so effin bored.

Ok, people, now hold on. Because we’re about to change gears a little. Yes. Something happens to characters OTHER than Bella and Edward. Can you handle it? The next plot point is:

4. Jacob’s pack finds out about the baby and decide it is a threat that must be killed.

What? You want to hang with a girl instead?!

Remember Jacob? Yeah, so he shows up and finds out about the pregnancy. He tells his pack and the pack leader, Sam, who you may remember from the last movie – he’s the one who scarred his girlfriend with LOVE. And werewolf claws. But mostly LOVE, I’m sure. Yeah,  so Sam immediately decides that the baby (and therefore Bella) is a threat to humans and werewolves alike and must be killed.

Jacob breaks from the clan to protect Bella and make an uneasy alliance with the Cullens. Two of the pack members come with him.

Jacob then spends a lot of time doing things like staring worriedly at Bella, ‘checking the perimeter’, walking up and down the stairs of the Cullen home and looking broody.

Which would be fine but he keeps his shirt on so whatever…

I can TOTALLY quit you, Lautner.

Bella continues to get weaker and weaker and more and more cadaverous as the baby grows. She is forced to drink human blood to get her and the baby some amount of nutrition. The baby breaks her ribs and eventually her spine and she starts to deliver.

Unfortunately, due to an inconvenient plot device (really? They waited until they only had one more bag of blood to go get more?), Dr. Daddy – Vampire Obstetrician isn’t around to help. So Edward and his siblings are forced to do it instead. Since this is a c-section and obviously involves lots of blood, most of the vampires are pretty useless. Edward has to eat into Bella to do the c-section and get to the baby. Finally:

5. Bella has the baby and it kills her.

Edward pulls the baby girl out, confirms she is OK. Bella holds TwinkleSpawn for a minute and then dies just as she lived: expressionless. Edward immediately injects her with a syringe of his own venom and bites the shit out of her in the hopes that he can turn her in time. But it appears that she’s dead and he’s too late.

Jacob rages and sulks and then decides it’s up to him to do what the pack wants and kill the demon baby that killed Bella. He walks up to the child, their eyes meet and… wait for it….

6. Jacob imprints on the baby, thereby saving her and the Cullens.

Wait. What?

So, apparently, werewolves have the ability to imprint on others. It’s sort of like doggie soul mates, I guess. Once you imprint, you’re destined to be together forever. “It’s like gravity,” Jacob says at one point, which I guess means it sucks.

Dang, baby. You so hot!

Also, conveniently, once a werewolf has imprinted on someone, that person has an automatic “Get out of the Doghouse Free” card with the rest of the pack. The wolves can’t kill Bella’s baby. They have to leave her alone. It’s their highest werewolf law and they can’t ignore it.

So the pack slinks off, leaving the grown ass man to be in love with a newborn. Yep, I see nothing to worry about there! Is it me or do we maybe need some sort of referendum or something about this law?

ANYWHO… so that leaves the last plot point in the movie:

7. Bella heals and turns into a vampire

Since the movie ends with her waking up as a vamp, this really doesn’t count that much as a plot point. However, they spend a good 10 minutes on House-like medical shots of what’s happening inside Bella, how her bones are knitting back together and Eddie’s venom is curing her.

Finally, Bella’s eyes open and she’s all vampy!

And that’s it. Seven things. No sub plots. No intrigue. No side characters. Oh, don’t get me wrong, several side characters are introduced. Nothing happens with any of them in this movie. Seven things. Prove. Me. Wrong. The movie runs for 1 hr 48 mins. I paid $10.75 for my movie ticket, not including the food and booze I needed to get through it. That’s an average of a buck fifty and FIFTEEN MINUTES per plot point!

This movie is nothing more than a blatant attempt to capitalize on the prior success of the Twilight series. The movie makers know that the Twilight fans will watch every movie and this was purely a mechanism to double their profits. And, sadly, it will work. For me, the insult of the latest movie isn’t so much the content being warped (although it is), it’s that the makers are obviously throwing a big middle finger up to the people who are most loyal to them by telling them they have to pay twice for this story and wait another year to see the conclusion of the series. It’s a shame, really.

Personally, I comfort myself with the knowledge that I’ve only got to do this one more time. Breaking Dawn part 2 is already in post-production and scheduled for release a year from now.  In the meantime, MUPPETS!!!

Vat do you mean I should sparkle? Ah hah hah!

Avatar of Masala Skeptic
Maria Walters (a.k.a. Masala Skeptic) has spent a lot of time in ‘furrin parts,’ including Hong Kong, Trinidad, and Pittsburgh. Although her passport is from India, she’s spent most of her adult life in the United States. She currently lives in Atlanta and has an unhealthy affection for science fiction, Neil Gaiman and all things Muppet.

88 Comments

  1. Avatar of ThickMcRunfast

    On the upside, Twilight does make for the best Rifftrax. Rifftraxxes? Rifftraxes?

    • Avatar of jtradke

      Rifftraxen.

    • Avatar of dr. dr. professor

      Lets review the facts here eh?

      There’s a book series where the main character is simultaneously indulging necrophilia and furry-sex at the same time. She eventually chooses necrophilia as her chosen path, then she grows a dead baby (dead-baby joke time!). The furries get jealous and try to kill her, but instead the dangers of necrophilia eventually kill her and turn her into a walking corpse as well.

      There you have it folks, modern society.

  2. Avatar of mrmisconception

    “I know how this ends. I don’t have to stick around to watch it.” – Jacob, Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 1

    Funny, that was my thought before reading word one. Go figure.

  3. Avatar of Improbable Joe

    I don’t know how you make a movie about a old ephebophile cannibal, a pet dog with great abs, and a fuckable mayonnaise sandwich, let alone however many of these goddamned things there are.

  4. Avatar of deviladv

    I still can’t take Lautner seriously considering I first knew him as SHARKBOY! :)

    Loving the Muppets references. I think you need to make Miss Piggy an official mascot of Skepchick.org.

    • Avatar of Masala Skeptic

      Yeah, this post was very Muppet heavy because I can’t freakin wait until Wednesday.

      As for Piggy, there’s an entire article on her as a feminist icon floating around my head this week :)

  5. Avatar of LawnBoy

    Apparently, I cracked up the entire movie theater by yelling “Yea Miss Piggy!!!” when she saved the day by driving her motorcycle through the window.

    Hey, I was only 6.

    • Avatar of Masala Skeptic

      I think I can say with confidence that nobody yelled “YEA BELLA” in any Twilight movie. :)

  6. Avatar of criticaldragon1177

    Masala Skeptic,

    I don’t really have anything against the Twilight series. I’ve just never been that interested in them, and I’ve never gotten around to watching the first movie. So I can’t really comment on it much either way, but that picture of Miss Piggy, making fun of Twilight is cute.

  7. Avatar of IBY

    My favorite review of this movie so far:

  8. Avatar of Elyse

    I LUV EDWARD AND HE LUVS BELLA SO MUCH HEHAD TO GIVE HIS BAYBE TO A WHEARWOLF TO SAFE HER AND HER BAYBE. PLZ STOP HATING TWILIGHT IF U DONT NO WHAT ITS ABOUT. ITS ABOUT LUV AND I LUV EDWARD AND HE LUV BELA. SHUT UP UNTILL U NO WHAT U TALKING ABOUT. UR JUST MAD UR NOT IMPRINTED CUZ UR UGLY!

    • Avatar of Elyse

      (I am posting that on behalf of every 12 year old who read this series while listening to Justin Bieber.)

      • Avatar of faceeater

        The sad part is that a majority of the crowd waiting to see this garbage on Thursday night was well over 12.

        • Avatar of BeardofPants

          Yeah, it’s the fucking MOTHERS of 12 year olds, nursing their unwholesome cradle-snatchy obsession with wolf-boy, and the sparkly thing. Blergh. If they’re so sexy starved, why don’t they just read some erotica?

    • Avatar of Brian G

      Shit. You beat me to it.

    • Avatar of dr. dr. professor

      It woulda been better if she instead had turned into a zombie and started killing all of the writers so that all of the ongoing plot devices can finally stop assaulting America.

  9. Avatar of scribe999

    ‘Once you imprint, you’re destined to be together forever. “It’s like gravity,” Jacob says at one point, which I guess means it sucks.’ — oh kudos to that description, kudos I say!

  10. Avatar of robofish

    I really have to wonder why you put yourself through this. I mean, you’d seen the others, you knew it was going to be shit… what were you expecting?

    • Avatar of Masala Skeptic

      Lots of reasons:

      1. It’s become a sort of tradition in Skepchick world that I do this.

      2. I’m somewhat fascinated by the general Twilight fascination, particularly as it relates to the messages teenage girls are receiving. As I said, I think it’s important to ‘know thine enemy’ in these sorts of issues as a driver for good conversations.

      3. Related: Even if it’s awful, it’s important to understand the things in pop culture that are really popular. There are lots of reasons for this. See this article for some of them (IMO): http://www.themanversion.net/tmvblog/2011/11/its-important-that-we-see-the-twilight-movie/

      • Avatar of robofish

        Fair enough. Well, don’t get me wrong, I’m glad you did, because it made for a great article.

        • Avatar of Masala Skeptic

          Thanks. Also? As much as I complain, it’s only once a year (and soon that will be over too) and I quite enjoy writing these things :)

          • Avatar of Reverend Kel

            Why wait? I think it would be interesting if you wrote your review for the next movie right now. Then, when the movie actually comes out, you can have fun doing a comparative review. I honestly don’t think you would be that far off.

  11. Avatar of nikoel

    “Bella holds TwinkleSpawn for a minute and then dies just as she lived: expressionless.”

    This line made me laugh out loud. Thank you for this awesome review. I sent it to all the ladies I made go to the 21+ theater with me this weekend ($7 matinee!). I had a handful of drinks and at least two bathroom breaks so I missed a fair chunk of it and yet somehow I wasn’t lost! I’m already looking forward to your review of the last movie.

  12. Avatar of jjg.denis.robert

    I don’t get why people are surprised that Bella’s character is a brain-dead anti-feminist’s wet dream. Twilight is a mormon allegory, designed to make Mormonism more mainstream. So why should a female character in a mormon allegory have a personality?

    (side note: Battlestar Galactica (the original) was also a Mormon allegory; but in this case, the creator was not that religious, and used the allegory as just a source for storytelling, like someone would use “The Odyssey” as inspiration. Not so with Twilight…)

  13. Avatar of mrmisconception

    First, how does a vampire get a boner? And more to the point how does a vampire get rid of a boner?

    Second, isn’t Edward supposed to be cold? Wouldn’t it be like fucking an icicle? A sparkly icicle.

    Third, let’s do some math. 106-18=88 is much worse than 20-0=20 . So who is really robbing the cradle? Proverbially speaking.

    Fourth, shouldn’t Jacob have, like, 6 more nipples? I mean you could put one on each ab-section.

    Fifth, somewhere Jane Austen, Bram Stoker, and Lon Chaney are have one hell off a bender trying to foget about this whole mess. And Boris Karloff is counting his blessings.

    • Avatar of BeardofPants

      Hah. Good point (snicker). Maybe they can only get boners when they’ve just fed? I dunno.

  14. Avatar of BlackCat

    Great review, I laughed out loud several times.

    But, Miss Piggy as feminist icon? Dear god, I hope not. I agree with what you said in the article, but I am not down with the violence and abuse that she inflicts on everyone around her. It was played for laughs in the Muppet Show, but wow, all it made me do was cringe.

    • Avatar of BeccaTheCyborg

      Actually, I agree. I never liked her, because he deal was beating on all of her friends. And delivering extra beatings to the frog she was into for saying no.

  15. Avatar of Jen

    TwinkleSpawn is the name of my new emo band.

  16. Avatar of SkepLit

    That’s got to be one of the funniest movie reviews ever. It was totally worth you spending $10.75. Hell! I’d have let you pay twice that much so I could read this review.

    BTW – NPR’s review was only slightly less brutal.

    I’m glad I don’t have a daughter or neice clawing at me to take them to see this.

    • Avatar of mrmisconception

      I am so glad my soon-to-be-ten-year-old is into Harry Potter instead of this schlock. HP may not be Shakespeare but compared to this it looks it. *She’s getting all seven books and all eight movies for Xmas.*

  17. Avatar of Bjornar

    I’ve slogged through all four books, and it sounds to me like Breaking Wind part 1 is nearly all of the book… No, wait. I take that back. The rest of the crap is coming back to me now.

    Twilight stands out as the only series of books where I’ve loathed all leading characters. I only read them out of spite. Not the healthiest of reasons, but now I can tell people they’re terrible with some authority.

  18. Avatar of IBY

    One thing I found funny from the trailer: Bella, in what is supposed to be the best day of her life, that is the wedding, her only facial expression seems to be one of, “oh crap, do I have to do this?” Seriously, the only facial expression she ever seems to have is a scowl! Is she miserable all the time or what?

    • Avatar of TheCzech

      I think that was the actor annoyed that she had to make the film.

  19. Avatar of lofgren

    I don’t worry too much about the messages in Twilight because I think 95% of the people who read it are smart enough to realize that it is escapist fantasy and not a road map for their lives. There is a crapton of more offensive romance literature out there, if taken at face value, so it’s not like Twilight is unique or even particularly remarkable in its messaging. The fact that it is popular doesn’t mean that it is exposing people to anything they wouldn’t already have been exposed to, and I highly doubt there are many folks out there who would be living perfectly wholesome, happy, self-realized lives if they hadn’t been led astray by Stephanie Meyer.

    The complaint that seems the weakest to me is the frequent argument that Bella is weak, that she is not active, a bystander, and a poorly developed character. That’s hardly unusual for a novel. The main character is frequently a cypher so that the audience can more easily fill the role themselves, and it’s not uncommon for them to become wrapped up in events greater than themselves which force them to remain mere observers. That’s a perfectly good way of writing a book, and rather than weakening the character it seems to me that it is an invitation to the audience to become participants in the story by fleshing out the character with their own emotions and reactions.

    It doesn’t work as well on film, though.

    I saw this movie on Saturday night and it is absolute crap. For some reason the Twilight moviemakers seem to have no interest in classic horror movies. I know Twilight isn’t a horror movie and I’m not asking for it to be one, but I think it could have made great use of horror conventions.

    This film had a lot of elements that make for a great horror story:

    A beautiful bride
    A perfect husband
    An unbelievable honeymoon
    A miraculous pregnancy

    But… something is terribly wrong! Holy crap this could be so chilling.

    For a perfect example of how the filmmakers went horribly wrong, look at the scene where Bella tells Edward that she is pregnant. She’s nervous, of course, what young mother wouldn’t be? But also hopeful. Yet she tells her husband that they may have a child. This sends out a wave of psychic fear so palpable that a psychic calls them from halfway around the world in a panic. Scary stuff.

    Before she even knows what is happening, without even consulting her, her husband and his father are planning her abortion! Desperate and afraid, her obvious vulnerability and fear all but ignored by her previously valiant and attentive husband, she calls her sister-in-law (previously an enemy)and begs for her help and protection from a forced abortion.

    Then the film cuts to two weeks later.

    TWO WEEKS.

    Here’s what we miss:

    Bella tells Edward she does not want an abortion.
    Bella tells Edward’s family she doesn’t want an abortion.
    The confrontation when Rose reveals that she will physically defend Bella from Edward if necessary to protect the child.
    The discovery that the baby cannot be seen on ultrasound.
    The discovery that needles cannot penetrate the amniotic sack.
    The research into previous cases that Edward’s father supposedly did.

    All of this is dealt with in two sentences, when it should have been used to imbue a mounting sense of dread and suspense.

    The biggest problem is that all of those scenes I listed are about Bella. At every new revelation, Bella should be the most impacted, the most fearful. She should question her decision to keep the baby at every turn. We don’t get one second of that. Even being told that her baby will kill her long before she brings it to term, Bella doesn’t spare a second thought to the (hundreds of) years with her true love Edward that she will be robbed of if she dies as a result of the pregnancy. In fact, the movie barely spares a frame for Bella’s face after the pregnancy.

    Compare it to, say, Rosemary’s Baby. Every second of that movie is mounting tension. The baby’s birth signals the end of the world, but it’s the direct, day-to-day implications for the mother that we experience. Bella’s pregnancy is regarded similarly by the wolves. The believe it will endanger all of humanity. (There is no explanation for why they believe this. Maybe the Cullens should have asked them during that “research” that they spend all of five minutes doing.) But there is absolutely no atmosphere of impending doom because Bella herself remains relentlessly hopeful and committed to her choice.

    The movie makes much of the physical risks of the pregnancy for Bella, from her wasting body to her likely painful, horrifying death. But it spends no time at all on the psychic toll of carrying a mutant vampire hellspawn. For any work of art to completely elide the emotional world of its characters is completely unforgivable. You can make a decent film with very little character depth. You cannot make a decent film with none at all.

    And for the record, I did not have nearly the reaction to the other Twilight films. They were bland, but ultimately acceptable diversions for a couple of hours. Breaking Dawn was the second worst movie I have ever seen. (And it only narrowly escapes being the absolute worst since I was tricked into sitting through the Last Airbender last summer.)

    • Avatar of dandylion

      I just had to say something about the “main characters are just stand-ins” point you made. The best books (in my opinion) are the books that have strong leads. The Harry Potter series, The Dresden Files (Jim Butcher), The Song of the Lioness quartet (Tamora Pierce), and Bram Stoker’s Dracula are all a few great books/series and I could name more. My main problem with the series is that Bella could not hold my attention through the whole series (yeah I read the books mostly for a challenge/dare/bet with a friend) Again, I find those series good, but that’s just my opinion.

    • Avatar of marilove

      Yeah, I’ve read this idea before, and I don’t buy it. I also think it’s a lazy, lazy way to write.

    • Avatar of scribe999

      “That’s hardly unusual for a novel. The main character is frequently a cypher so that the audience can more easily fill the role themselves, and it’s not uncommon for them to become wrapped up in events greater than themselves which force them to remain mere observers.” — usually, that mean’s “ur doing it wrong”.

      I can’t speak on authority regarding the books or movies because life is short, and I can read/watch terrible crap at any time. However, I think the success of these books might point to the level of sexual repression among angsty tweens & teens in the bible belt: http://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/321-do-you-live-in-the-twilight-belt-infographic as opposed to any achievement of craft on the part of Stephanie Meyer.

      Even if the plot is consistently buffeting your protagonist, it is imperative to impart agency upon the protagonist, otherwise I can’t see how you could find a character a cypher for yourself. Unless one were to think so little of oneself. Which I suppose brings me back to Twilight’s demographic…

      • Avatar of lofgren

        A protagonist needs agency to be convincing, but Bella isn’t the protagonist. Just because she is a main character doesn’t mean she is the protagonist. In fact one of the problems with these stories is that the protagonist is difficult to identify. But it seems to me that the protagonist is actually Edward, at least for the first film. A protagonist, by definition, cannot be passive.

        • Avatar of Masala Skeptic

          Um. Except that Stephanie Meyer has said many times that Bella is the protagonist and that this is Bella’s story:

          Meyer states in regard to ending the series:

          The Twilight Saga is really Bella’s story, and this was the natural place for her story to wind up. She overcame the major obstacles in her path and fought her way to the place she wanted to be. I suppose I could try to prolong her story unnaturally, but it wouldn’t be interesting enough to keep me writing. Stories need conflict, and the conflicts that are Bella-centric are resolved. (from http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/bd_faq.html)

          So yeah, she is the protagonist. She’s just a crappy one. And the fact that it’s hard to discern that just proves the point.

          • Avatar of lofgren

            Meyers can say anything she wants, it doesn’t make her right – not even about her own books. The protagonist is the character whose choices and actions drive the story. It is NOT necessarily the same as the main character or the hero. In fact, often it is the villain (some obvious examples being Iago, MacBeth, and Richard III). By definition the protagonist cannot be passive because the character whose actions and choices drive the narrative takes no actions and makes no choices then you have no narrative.

            In the first movie, that character is Edward. Edward chooses to reveal to her that he is a vampire. Edward seeks her out. Edward invites her to join his family. Bella reacts. She reacts to Edward. She reacts to being hunted. She reacts, reacts, reacts. I’m sure Meyer badly wants to believe that Bella is the protagonist but she is factually wrong.

            In this film I think Jacob was actually the protagonist. Bella’s choice to keep the baby – her strongest claim to being the protagonist – is really just a background detail that sets up the main story arc, which is Jacob leaving his pack to protect her child. Jacob tells the pack about the baby. Jacob leaves the pack. Jacob forms his own pack. Jacob guards Bella. And finally Jacob saves the baby with the ridiculous name from being torn apart by wolves.

            No doubt Bella is a main character, but she is not the protagonist.

        • Avatar of scribe999

          “Just because she is a main character doesn’t mean she is the protagonist.” — umm, yes that is what it means. A protagonist is the character who has the actions in the world revolve around them and who the reader is supposed to identify with. That was high school English lit.

          “A protagonist, by definition, cannot be passive.” — yes, a protagonist can be passive because you incorrectly defined ‘protagonist’. Just do a google search for “passive protagonist”. Usually they do not make for a good story.

          • Avatar of scribe999

            Let me clarify something a bit. I’m sure Jacob, or Edward, could be seen as protagonists at times throughout this lengthy series, as antagonists probably shift as well (I’m speaking in terms of generalities since I can’t say for certain). However, the journey, the perspective, the arc is pretty much Bella’s from what everyone has written about.

            If you were to remove Jacob entirely from the story, this arc could still technically happen. You can’t make an argument for someone being THE protagonist of a story if he isn’t required to appear in it. The essence of it is still about Bella, Edward, her kid and vampires and werewolves wanting to kill them for some reason.

          • Avatar of Buzz Parsec

            Chauncey Gardener in Being There

  20. Avatar of IBY

    @lofgren
    That’s weird, the main complaint that I have heard about Bella is that she is uninteresting and boring. Personally, I have never read of a main character this boring. Usually, even audience surrogates are interesting in their own ways. Another thing, she is a complete asshole. I don’t know why anyone would want to identify with her.

  21. Avatar of Donna

    “Bella holds TwinkleSpawn for a minute and then dies just as she lived: expressionless.”

    Also one of MY lines. I cannot abide that person. Expressionless and affect-less indeed.

    And thank you for watching this so we wouldn’t have to. You took one for the team! Love you!

  22. Avatar of Feats of Cats

    I especially like with the imprinting thing that it’s just assumed that the imprintee will be into the imprinter, like there’s no chance the kid will grow up and fall in love with someone else. The anti-feminism of these books goes so far as to predetermine the romantic feelings of a baby.

    Or maybe it was addressed and I missed it. I read each book in under 24 hours because I was terrified of someone catching me reading them.

    • Avatar of Masala Skeptic

      I believe the idea is that they imprint on each other – so they are equally into each other. Which begs some interesting questions when one of the people is a newborn.

    • Avatar of lofgren

      In the movie he makes it sound like it is not necessarily a romantic thing. I thought it was more like a godfather type relationship. I thought it was sad that Jacob is probably condemned to be alone for the rest of his life, since it now revolves around Bella’s child.

      And if you would permit me one more rant, what is with the word “imprint?” I’m assuming that they have their own word for it, and imprint is just a good-enough English translation. But if that is the case, why don’t they just use their own word? Why are they using this clinical term, which just sounds ridiculous? You expect me to believe that it is one of the most ancient, meaningful, and traditional rites of passage in their society, and the only term they have come up for it is “imprinting?” If J.K. Rowling had written these books there would be three different words for it, a proper traditional one, a more casual one, and a slang term that all the kids are using.

  23. Avatar of lofgren

    The best books (in my opinion) are the books that have strong leads.

    You are, of course, entitled to your own opinion. Some people think the best books should have nothing to do with vampires. Some people think the best books should have nothing to do with women. I hated the Dresden Files and loved Harry Potter. There’s no accounting for taste. I just think the fact that the main character is undeveloped is a weak criticism of the books, because it could just as easily be an author’s choice as an author’s oversight. Meyer is not a strong writer but in this case I think it was the former, and it’s by no means unprecedented. It’s also not an antifeminist statement or something like that, which is how it is often presented by Twilight haters. I’m not saying anybody has to like it, just that it’s not a very convincing or meaningful criticism in my opinion.

    Yeah, I’ve read this idea before, and I don’t buy it. I also think it’s a lazy, lazy way to write.

    That’s such an asshole thing to say. There are a thousand different ways to approach a novel and many of them are mutually exclusive. Choosing one approach to one character is as indicative of lazy writing as the choice to use nails instead of screws is indicative of lazy carpentry. Nails have their uses, as do screws. The mere presence of either is not sufficient to damn a carpenter’s industriousness. Even if you think Meyer is a bad writer, or dislike some of her conventions, there’s no need to slander her.

    • Avatar of mrmisconception

      Slander? lolwhut?
      I’m sure she’ll survive, if not she can console herself with the giant file of filthy lucre that she calls her bed.

      • Avatar of lofgren

        I consider calling somebody lazy when you don’t know them and have no evidence to be slander. I’m sure Meyer will survive, just as you would survive if I called you a mean-spirited, nasty person who makes personal attacks instead of trying to say something substantive about a person’s work. Just because she’ll survive doesn’t make it right. If you don’t like her book, say what you don’t like about it. There is no need to make it personal.

        • Avatar of Masala Skeptic

          There’s a difference between calling an individual lazy and calling someone’s writing lazy. “Lazy writing” is a literary term meaning use of cliches, unoriginal storylines etc.

        • Avatar of marilove

          Um, are you serious? You have proven yourself to be very dense throughout this entire argument. First, with your incorrect definition of protagonist, and now this?

          I called it lazy, lazy writing. I didn’t call her lazy.

          Even writing a lazily written novel takes a lot of work. Her style of writing, though, is lazy. Her characters are lazy. Her story line is lazy and unoriginal, aside from the weird sparkling thing. And her actual writing ability is slim-to-none. But does she work hard? Probably. I don’t know her. It’s also possible she has ghost writers (though I doubt it … ghost writers probably write better than she does). Does it matter? Her writing is shit.

        • Avatar of marilove

          “if I called you a mean-spirited, nasty person who makes personal attacks instead of trying to say something substantive about a person’s work. ”

          And what a passive-agressive way to get an ad hominem attack in so you don’t have to take responsibility for it, when no one attacked you, nor Stephanie Meyers directly — just her shitty writing, and yes, that is an opinion that I can hold, and that many hold.

          I also think Danielle Steele is a lazy, shitty writer.

          Dan Brown is an awful writer.

          I also hate Jane Austen. Her writing puts me to sleep.

          Are you going to get offended over those opinions, or just Stephanie Meyers, because you are a hardcore Twihard?

          We get a lot of those around here when review time comes around!

      • Avatar of mrmisconception

        Whoa, easy there tiger.

        I was simply replying to the slander remark.
        Stephanie Meyers is a public person and slander against a public person goes far beyond calling them lazy, which wasn’t even what was said.

        I personally said nothing about Ms. Meyers; I have not read these books or seen these movies because I have no interest in them. They look about as interesting to me as wallpaper paste but I have no interest in Anne Rice either so maybe gothicesque vampire love stories just don’t do it for me.

        I kinda like my vampires with a bit more bite if you’ll pardon the pun.

        As for the things I said about these books/movies; it was all about things I pick up from pop culture, you can’t escape this shit it is everywhere like a fungus.

        So mean-spirited and nasty, I’ll cop the that sometimes but I really don’t care enough to be mean or nasty so Stephanie Meyers. I have more invested in Kim Kardashian and that is exactly zero.

    • Avatar of marilove

      Wow, really?

      You’re really this offended that I think Stephanie Myers is a lazy, horrible writer, and that she’s hugely sexist? She is a mormon and her stories are very, very much influenced on her mormon beliefs. Of course it’s sexist drivel.

      And this isn’t “libel”. It’s my opinion.

      She’s a horrible writer. Her characters are cliché. One-dimensional. Bland. Not to mention the entire thing is sexist crap.

      You can go ahead and defend it. You can love it. I don’t care. My opinion is that it’s a bunch of shit. And I’m entitled to that.

      I think Stephanie Meyers, with her millions upon millions of fans and dollars, doesn’t give a rat’s ass what I think. But it is care you care a whole lot!

  24. Avatar of lofgren

    I will say that the undeveloped main character as a proxy for the audience is something that is more successful in my opinion in short stories than 1000+ page novel series. But hey if it works it works, and clearly it works for millions of people.

    Anwyway just to reiterate the main point of my original post: this is a movie about a woman who is so alone and isolated that she must turn to a previous adversary to protect her from a forced abortion at the hands of her husband, whose ex-flame reenters her life to grudgingly defend her from his murderous clan, and who ultimately chooses to sacrifice her own life for her child. This is before we even consider the supernatural elements of the story. AND THEY SOMEHOW MADE IT BORING.

  25. Avatar of mistwolf

    Has anyone done a taking apart of the series with the viewpoint that Bella is actually the villain of the series? I read them and couldn’t help thinking that, most of the people seem reasonably OK up until she enters their lives.

  26. Avatar of IBY

    @lofgren
    I am sorry, but are you blind? The book freaking smacks you with the religious fundamentalist and horny teenager fantasy concept of sexuality. Stephanie Meyer couldn’t have made it more obvious even if she wanted to. To say it is not sexist (even if that was not the author’s intention) is pretty much like closing your ears and shouting “Blah blah blah, I don’t hear anything!” It is like saying the James Bond franchise is not sexist, despite the OBVIOUS evidence to the contrary.

    Oh, and I believe those are valid criticisms because immature concepts of sexuality like the ones peddled in her book make these characters and their actions seem less believable and stupid. There is a reason Twilight haters make fun of Edward’s creepiness. That is because it is contrary to everything we know about what a healthy relationship should look like, which by the way, that is how the book is trying to present the couple’s relationship as.

    Also, if an audience surrogate him/herself is not interesting, then the author has failed as a writer. Believe me, I know works of fiction with audience surrogate, and they are never as dull or assholish as Bella Swan.

    • Avatar of lofgren

      I never said it wasn’t sexist. Although I’m not sure I would call a novel sexist. I would say it has an unappealing image of womanhood, which you might call weasel words which is fine by me. I don’t want to get into a political discussion about the books with you. I’m not talking about any of the other messaging in the book. All I will say about that is that I find much of it deeply icky. I say icky because bad writing could never be truly disturbing.

      The only aspect of the book I am talking about is the minimal impact that Bella’s choices have on the plot. That’s too common a device to make into a gender issue. Even if you convince me it is not a conscious choice I would be more likely to chalk it up to bad writing than sexism on the author’s part.

      I am 100% not defending any other gender commentary in the rest of the book.

      The only reason I mentioned that Bella as a cypher might make sense as a deliberate authorial choice is to contrast it with how poorly that works on screen. By refusing to give her complex emotions, her value to the story was cut so dramatically that the pregnancy ends up feeling like bookends for Jacob’s story. And Jacob’s story was so dumb I and several others in the theater were barely stifling giggles. (And no, I don’t think that was a deliberate decision. I think that was really bad filmmaking.)

      I’m not saying anything good about the books. I am only saying that a passive main character is not uncommon in novels.

  27. Avatar of IBY

    @mistwolf
    Having read the first book, I can officially say that Bella is an asshole.

  28. Avatar of dxman

    Hey! Well at least they have sex. Non-protected sex? I mean haven’t they heard of condoms? The pill? They could’ve warmed up with some outercourse first.. This is precisely the reason why premarital sex is so important.

    Pluse sending a great message to young women – sex is something you have to spend ages convincing violent young men to have with you by completely negating your personality… plus nagging.

    Oh the other message – pregnancy is unavoidable and you must sacrifice your life to have your child and have one as soon as possible after marriage.

    • Avatar of DebGod

      How is this the first time I’ve ever heard the term “outercourse”? It’s so useful!

  29. Avatar of captainnemo

    Would it be wrong if I beat Stephanie Meyers unconscious with copies of her books (and for a change of pace, a copy of the Book of Mormon)?

    • Avatar of mrmisconception

      No need for violence, just making her watch The Book of Mormon would suffice. Fitting actually.

    • Avatar of mehve

      Yes, because that would be assault. #mencallmethings

      Try reading what you wrote out loud to yourself and listen to how it sounds.

  30. Avatar of esiebert

    @lofgren
    First of all, as others have said, the protagonist is the main character, no matter how active or passive he or she is. It comes from Greek and means “actor who plays the first part, leader.” Protagonists/main characters, as you rightly say, often are stand-ins for the audience, the character with whom the audience most identifies, but that doesn’t mean that they have to be personality-free ciphers who are victims of the plot rather than actors in it. They can be largely passive–look at any of those 8 million page Gothic novels from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries–but this is not typical. Hell, even in Gothic novels, the heroines have more gumption than Bella seems to have.

    Finally, I don’t see how her passivity in this case can be seen as anything but sexist, intentional or not. Her only decisions seem to be 1) which creepy, inappropriate man she should give herself to entirely (after marriage) 2) how to convince him that she wants to do her wifely duty no matter how much it (literally) hurts her 3) how to convince him that she MUST bear their creepy baby, no matter how painful her death will be as a result. In other words, she only defies her lord and master when the role of Mommy-Woman trumps the role of Wife-Woman.

    On another note, re imprinting: does this mean that Wolfboy is going to follow SparkleSpawn* around, licking her face and begging her to regurgitate food for him?

    *Sorry for altering the name, but I do love alliteration.

    • Avatar of jasonskeptic

      Actually, I learned in my film studies class in college (and my professor could have been full of shit, but I have since had this verified elsewhere) that the protagonist doesn’t necessarily have to be the main character. We had it defined as the character who underwent the “journey” or had the major change. The antagonist was the character who was the agent of that change. There could be multiple antagonists.

      The main example he used was the original Star Wars trilogy. If you look at just the first film, Luke is the protagonist and Darth Vader the major antagonist. If you look at the trilogy as a whole, however, this relationship reverses. Even though the series revolves around Luke, Darth Vader was the one who really underwent the major change. Granted, he died immediately (spoiler alert *laughs*), but the change was still there.

  31. Avatar of mehve

    I’m getting to really love Skepchick. It’s one of my favorite websites to follow now, which is why posts like this disappoint me so much. I get it. Twilight is shit because it’s about a girl who does girly things and who could get her ass handed to her by a man(frog)-obsessed, karate-chopping stuffed puppet pig. Ha, ha, ha. Breaking Dawn couldn’t possibly be enjoyable without the assistance of alcohol. It, like, has a girly wedding in it for crying out loud and the rest is all about sex and pregnancy and who wants to watch an entire movie about that boring girly shit?

    Talk about skepticism. This review was a summary of a film with commentary thrown in and concluded with a pointless rant about how much money the movie is making. The writing in this review is about as lazy and self-indulgent as Meyer’s books. It didn’t even try to question why a lot of people, for some reason, seem to love the hell out of these movies when at the same time an equal amount of people hate them. I’m not even a huge fan of the series, Bella frustrates me a LOT, but I did find it refreshing to see a modern, mainstream sci fi/fantasy movie with a female protagonist told from a female perspective. That’s a rare find these days. You think it’s sad that a movie that has two female writers and a female protagonist is making a lot of money from a mostly female audience going out in droves to enjoy it, when money is the reason why big-budget movies don’t take chances on more female characters in the first place? There’s absolutely no chance that Breaking Dawn, for all its faults, could lead to even one discussion about birth control, sex, consent, marriage, domestic abuse, pregnancy, or even just life after high school between a girl and her mother who went to see it together? These are all important women-centric issues and it’s frustrating to see this review completely blow them all off. Breaking Dawn is about a seventeen/eighteen year old young woman who’s a freshly-minted high school graduate making a lot of permanent decisions about her life in a very short amount of time. Problems and complications ensue, but no, this is a silly movie for silly girls that hysterical women obsess over and saying that the content is worth anything but immediate dismissal isn’t what hip feminist skeptic writing does.

    The most frustrating thing is your tone is all over the place. I honestly can’t tell if it’s supposed to be an honest review/critique or just a humorous in-joke (“oh, another Twilight film, I guess I should say something about it”) and if it’s the latter then that makes this entire comment pointless because I’m that one idiot who didn’t get the joke. My brain hurts when I think about the part where you try to argue that Breaking Dawn is a terrible movie because only seven “things” happen. I’ve read it several times in an attempt to understand what you’re trying to say. What designates a “thing” in a movie and why is the quality of a movie’s story suddenly proportional to how many “things” happen in it? Inception was only about one “thing” using this logic. Breaking Dawn isn’t a terrible movie because it chooses not to derail the central plot every half hour to sit down and have a long, heart-to-heart psychological chat over drinks with every single member of the wolf pack. Breaking Dawn has pretty good pacing. It wasn’t trying to be the vampire interpretation of Pulp Fiction, it didn’t need a segmented subplot for every single character with a speaking role. This is the movie where, in the year 2011, an eighteen year old girl decides to skip college to get married to a 100-something-year-old man and THAT was one of your main issues, that the supporting characters that it doesn’t sound like you cared for much to begin with didn’t get enough screen time? You’re saying you want to make the movie even longer when at the same time you’re arguing that it should be shorter so they can combine this movie with the second one? What?

    Unabashedly hating Twilight isn’t original or amusing anymore, EVERYONE does it and it’s exhausting to hear the same, hateful rhetoric on every, single blog, especially when it carries over onto websites that I expect a little more from than just “Edward is creepy and Bella is stupid lol lol.” Great. Tell me something that I didn’t already know from the reviews of the first three films. This is the supposedly pro-life, conservative Mormon romance movie that has a climax revolving around a gory and ultimately fatal pregnancy, it deserves SOME credit.

    That being said, “TwinkleSpawn” is much better than the baby’s real name. And I also second the Oscar nomination for Taylor Lautner’s abs. They made me cry. They made me laugh.

    • Avatar of Masala Skeptic

      “who wants to watch an entire movie about that boring girly shit”

      Wait. What?

      That isn’t at all what I was saying. My general commentary is that Bella is a weak, not very interesting character but I specifically said that wasn’t something I was going to cover in this review because I’ve covered in so many times (as have others). And, I also said that having a weak female character might have some value in terms of providing an opportunity to discuss the issues of feminism as they are covered (or not covered) in this book.

      I am sorry you don’t like my tone but this review was specifically about the pacing and the ‘value’ of the movie itself. Forget about whether or not these are interesting/useful characters – this is a weak story and an obvious attempt to pad the story with long glances and music in order to drag it out into two movies. That was really my major point in this review.

      As for ‘things’ that happen – I mean major plot points or events that happen in the movie. Try doing the same thing with the first part of the last Harry Potter movie and you’ll see what I mean.

      “You’re saying you want to make the movie even longer when at the same time you’re arguing that it should be shorter so they can combine this movie with the second one? What? ”

      Nope. I’m saying everything in the book could easily fit into a single movie with some decent editing. Maybe you don’t like my tone but this review was about the construction of the movie far more than my dislike of the characters and the plot (which I am certainly not denying) :)

      • Avatar of mehve

        Okay.  I want to try and defend the plot a little, because I think my main problem with your review is the plot isn’t nearly as bad as you try to make it out to be and I didn’t express that very well in my first comment.  I want to argue that Breaking Dawn has pretty good pacing, if you’ll go with me for a minute.

        “Nope.  I’m saying everything in the book could easily fit into a single movie with some decent editing.”

        I’m saying that it couldn’t, not easily, and that the movies are better for having been split up.  I don’t know if you bothered with skimming through the book, but without even having to really read any of it, you can see that Breaking Dawn is broken up into three smaller chunks.  The first movie combines Book 1, Book 2, and the first chapter or so of Book 3.  If the people behind the first Breaking Dawn movie were really out to give the middle finger to the audience, they would’ve just ended the movie where Book 2 ends—with Bella’s death.  All conflict, no satisfying resolution, and the audience is still forced to come back for another movie to find out what happens.  The movie showed a healthy respect for the source material by rewarding the audience with Bella’s transformation at the end of the movie after dragging them over the coals by making them watch her painful physical and emotional decay.  So the movie ends on two high notes: the excitement of seeing Vampire Bella for the first time and the anticipation of getting to see her in a fourth Twilight movie.  I know the latter isn’t a highlight for you, but it is for Twilight’s core audience.  What’s more, I don’t know if you’ve been paying that much attention, but Bella’s turning into a vampire has been what the ENTIRE SERIES was leading up to.  It makes sense that the creators would want to devote one movie to the event and give it some space to breathe.

        Splitting any of the other three Twilight books would have been a stretch because there’s only one climax in each book: the Traditional Twilight Vampire Fight.  Breaking Dawn has two: Bella’s death/rebirth and the Traditional Twilight Vampire Fight.  I don’t think you’ll mind if I spoil you on the events of Breaking Dawn Book 3, but there’s plenty of material left for Breaking Dawn Part 2 to work with.  There’s Bella getting used to her new un-dead existence, Edward getting used to Bella’s un-dead existence, Edward and Bella both getting used to their daughter (don’t make me type the name), Edward and Bella getting used to JACOB getting used to their daughter, hot unrestrained married vampire sex, dirty werewolf thoughts about vampire sex, Jacob’s redemption with the werewolf tribe, and a big smackdown between Clan Cullen and Dakota Fanning’s Nasty Italian Vampire Brigade, who want to claim Bella’s baby for the good of Ancient Europe or something.  That’s more than enough material for a second movie.  Maybe not a movie with the scale of Ben Hur, but it’s enough to make one movie.  

        I don’t understand why your thesis for proving that Breaking Dawn is a bad movie only focuses on the mechanics of Breaking Dawn’s story when that is where the movie is at its strongest.  It has a conflict and it sticks to it.  Why is a plot about a character seeking sexual satisfaction and a supernatural pregnancy not enough to carry a movie?  What else do you want?  I don’t know, because you didn’t explain that in your review, you just complain that what the first movie did give you isn’t enough.  In your comment you mention Harry Potter 7, which I’ll get to in a second, but Harry Potter 7 Part 1 can’t be considered the better movie just because it has about twenty-bazillion side plots padding its movie.  Breaking Dawn can stand up on its own two legs in terms of introduction, conflict, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.  

        It’s not like Breaking Dawn is only about Edward and Bella, either, the side-action with Jacob and the wolf pack did a good job of keeping the Bella/Edward drama from getting stale.  You don’t mention a lot of what happens on-screen with the wolf pack, which I was surprised by because you also complain that nothing happens with the side characters.  Did we watch the same movie or did I hallucinate those scenes where Jacob and Token-Female-Wolf-Character were discussing their respective dating woes and how they feel out of place and are kind of weirded out by the creepy Imprinted zombie members of their tribe?  I would think that Jacob would be worthy of his own little bullet point on your list of events.  Aside from dealing with Bella, he has to grow up and assume a leadership position by taking care of Youthful-Comedic-Sidekick-Wolf-Character and Token-Female when they decide betray the tribe to defend Bella, too.

        “As for ‘things’ that happen – I mean major plot points or events that happen in the movie.  Try doing the same thing with the first part of the last Harry Potter movie and you’ll see what I mean.”

        It’s funny that you should mention Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, because I would use this as an example of where a movie adaptation utterly fails to reign in its story by distracting the audience with too many side plots.  I don’t see what you mean.  I think what you’re trying to say here is that Harry Potter 7 Part 1 is the better movie because more ‘things’ happen there than in Breaking Dawn.  If that’s the case, I have to disagree.  The Harry Potter movies do not have good pacing, they feel rushed and bloated.  Even when given the space of two movies to tell one book, they are still crammed with so much STUFF that they are completely alienating and unapproachable to anyone who hasn’t recently combed through the book.  Breaking Dawn can be easily understood by anyone who hasn’t read Meyer’s books.  Even if an illiterate audience member hates the movie they can at least keep up with what’s happening.  That’s the first step towards making a successful movie adaptation.  Where Breaking Dawn does not fail is in its execution of the plot.  It keeps things compact by not straying too far from the main story.  It pays the audience member a compliment by assuming that she has something of an attention span and can handle focusing on events relating to three main characters for not even two hours.

        “I’m sorry you don’t like my tone but…”

        Tone is what binds a piece of writing together.  If you choose sarcasm, the piece should be consistently sarcastic but your writing jumps around without warning.  I can’t like or dislike your tone if you haven’t decided what that tone is.  Look at your second bullet point: “Edward & Bella have sex.”  You have a paragraph that starts out funny, where you joke sarcastically about how Jacob’s understandably “freaked” about Bella and Edward “doing the nasty” with his “sparkly vampire cock”, but after five sentences of this, you suddenly switch gears and start emphasizing the act’s grave implications.  A paragraph which starts out joking about Bella and Edward’s funny sex-after-marriage changes its mind in the middle and concludes by saying the sex is actually disturbing and Bella is prepping herself for death.  The second paragraph continues to carry this new serious tone, talking about the damage Edward does to the bed and Bella herself, implying domestic abuse and a narrowly-avoided murder.  The second paragraph ends where the first paragraph begins, though, with a sudden, abrupt joke about how Edward and Bella continue having this funny, disturbing honeymoon sex.  Between those two paragraphs, almost your entire bullet point, you haven’t really said anything.  You’ve just summarized a series of events from a movie.  There’s nothing that you’ve added that I can take away as a reader and since your tone is inconsistent, I can’t even tell how I am supposed to feel about these events. 

        Even worse, you miss out on a ton of other things that you could have mentioned, like the fact that this is one of the few times when we see a woman’s desire and feelings at the core of a mainstream movie’s sex scene or the fact that Edward and Bella could have easily avoided the danger and still appeased Bella’s human sex drive by having Edward get a little more creative than just ‘insert male part B into female slot A.’  This is just one example, you do this throughout the review.  If you had criticized the movie, and done it well or been creative about it, I wouldn’t be complaining.  I don’t think you gave good criticism.  I think your writing is jumping on the Twilight-haters bandwagon without giving the movie any thought at all.  You delivered a summary of the plot with (drunken) commentary thrown in: a lazy MST3K.

        At the same time, you claim that one of the reasons why you’re watching these movies is because you’re “fascinated by the general Twilight fascination, particularly as it relates to the messages teenage girls are receiving.”  I find it hard to buy that because you don’t seem to be all that interested in how teenage girls might perceive this movie.  In this review, your only objective is to express how boring this movie is to you as an adult woman.  You also say that “Even if it’s awful, it’s important to understand the things in pop culture that are really popular.”  I want to point out that, in this review, you don’t even try to unpack why Breaking Dawn is doing well in the box office despite the “weak story.”  I did a quick Google search for the definition of understand and I came up with “to grasp the meaning of” and “to show a sympathetic or tolerant attitude toward something.”  I don’t think your writing succeeds in coming close to understanding this movie or its teenage audience.

        When you do successfully use humor, it’s good.  The bits where you joke about Jacob are funny.  I liked how you led into the 6th plot point with “He walks up to the child, their eyes meet and…wait for it…”  That’s clever use of your bullet-point format.  It’s just strange when I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or serious.  Are you still holding to your original point that “Twilight is Hurting America” and is still pissing you off or has the series dwindled now to the point where Breaking Dawn is just more of a mild and boring inconvenience?

        You’ve read the comments that are being posted here, right?  Rebecca Watson recently wrote about how she’s receiving a lot of hateful, vicious notes and emails for a statement that she made in one of her video blogs. RIGHT HERE there’s one commenter, “captainnemo,” who’s considering hitting Meyer repeatedly until she falls unconscious because…she…did what?  She wrote mediocre books that a lot of people love and that got adapted into financially successful movies.  That’s the kind of person this type of review caters to, not to a member of the skeptic community but to the person who doesn’t see anything wrong with saying a woman should be beaten for doing dangerous things like sharing her ideas with an audience.

        • Avatar of mrmisconception

          You are expending a lot of energy defending a movie that is, at best, fan service.

          Relax, enjoy your movie. Obviously you liked it so who cares; you really do not need to attack anyone and anything that disagrees (and since it has 26% on Rotton Tomatoes that would keep you pretty busy).

          You expect a late-franchise movie to be accessable to non-fans? Really? Name one.

          Back to the Future III? You could enjoy parts of it but would miss a lot.
          Jedi? Lots to look at but what the hell is going on.
          Lord of the Rings? Please, almost impenetrable even with the first two.

          I have not seen the Twilight movies or read the books. As I have already said, I have no interest, but from what I have gleaned from the discussions here and elsewhere inaccessability is not this movie’s only problem.

          Bella is trying to become happy with her situation, something she achieves through complete tranformation into something her boyfriend/husband wants. Do you not see how a feminist website might have a slight problem with this message? Especially since it is heavily marketed toward young women.

          When it happens in Grease it is easier to dismiss as just one movie, put when it happens in a franchise that has targeted young girls with the, knowing or unknowing, goal of passing off submissiveness as a good trait it should not, and cannot, be ignored.

          Enjoy your movie but don’t expect everyone to sing the praises of a fan-service movie that critics found to be lacking.

          BTW- Deathly Hallows Part 1 got a 79% Tomatometer so, while not universally loved, even non-fans found some merit.

          • Avatar of mehve

            “You are expending a lot of energy defending a movie that is, at best, fan service.  Relax.  Enjoy your movie.”

            Thanks for the concern.

            “You really do not need to attack anyone and anything that diagrees (and since it has 26% on Rotton Tomatoes that would keep you pretty busy)”

            If you can point out to me where I attacked anyone, I’ll gladly apologize for it.  You should stick to worrying about how you spend your time and I’ll worry about how I spend mine.

            “You expect a late-franchise movie to be accessable to non-fans?  Really?  Name one.”

            Sorry, you’re right, I should clarify:  Yes, of course, the movie will be confusing to someone who doesn’t already know things that have been established in Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse.  I meant that Breaking Dawn’s plot is accessible to audience members who have also watched the other Twilight movies, but haven’t read any of the books.  The audience won’t necessarily like the movie or enjoy it, but if they’ve only seen the other movies, understanding how Breaking Dawn gets from point A to point B is the least of their problems.  The movie’s audience won’t miss out on understanding any of the plot points or emotional moments simply because they can’t rely on the source material to footnote anything the movie skips or skims over.  With the Harry Potter movies, not so much.  It’s difficult for someone who hasn’t read the books to fully appreciate or understand a lot of the prominent subplots, because the Harry Potter movies are also fan service in their own way.  You could say that the Harry Potter movies are mostly about putting on a dazzling, spectacular show to illustrate scenes from book, but that wouldn’t stop you from also being able to give a good critique of the plot.  I’d argue that Breaking Dawn doesn’t have as much world building to cram in or as many supporting characters to establish, so when given two movies, it can focus on just telling the story that it wants to tell and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

            “Do you not see how a feminist website might have a slight problem with this message?  Especially since it is heavily marketed toward young women.”

            Yes. But that angle wasn’t addressed in this review.

            “Enjoy your movie but don’t expect everyone to sing the praises of a fan-service movie that critics found to be lacking.”

            I never asked for anyone to write a love letter to this movie.  Of course I don’t expect “everyone to sing the praises” of any movie, you need to give me a little more credit than that.  You and others are saying that the movie should be dismissed because it has no substance.  I’m trying to prove that it does actually have some substance, it wouldn’t be so popular if it didn’t, and it’s become way too easy for critics to dismiss Breaking Dawn without unpacking ANY of its themes, good or bad.  I think I erred by trying to defend too much of the movie for you too see my point, for the sake of showing that it’s possible to at least make an effort to try and understand this material, even though it has a sparkly, creepy, cradle-robbing vampire in it.

            There’s a lot that needs to be said about the messages in this specific movie, but this review doesn’t bother to touch on any of that because the writing makes the assumption that there is no substance to the movie at all and it uses that assumption as a crutch.  There’s little effort done to prove the point to the reader that Breaking Dawn is a bad movie, because it assumes that the point has already been made.

            “BTW-Deathly Hallows Part 1 got a 79% Tomatometer so, while not universally loved, even non-fans found some merit.”

            HPatDHP1 does have its good points.  I still wouldn’t use it as an example of how a movie successfully ties in a lot of events to make the plot more interesting.

  32. Avatar of kimberlyeddy

    Honestly, the Twilight series isn’t meant to be some ground-breaking feminist series. It’s a romance, meant to entertain. I completely understand that not everyone likes it, and that opinion is completely legitimate and justifiable. There are many reasons not to like Twilight, like the ones you mentioned here. However, for every person who absolutely hates Twilight, there’s another who likes Twilight, and that’s fine, too.

    If you really despise the movies that much, why are you forcing yourself to see them? I’m pretty sure you’ve made your point that the movies & books have no literary value, but they are undeniably entertaining, even if on just a superficial level. I mean, you obviously don’t enjoy the movies, but I think you enjoy trash-talking the movies very much.

    I agree with a lot of what you said, but the mocking, arrogant, condescending tone you used made it hard to read. The only people who would truly enjoy this article are people who enjoy hating something. As a feminist who thoroughly enjoyed reading the Twilight series, I found this to be dripping with bias, hipster superiority, and internalized misogyny.

    • Avatar of Masala Skeptic

      Again, sorry if you don’t like the snark but as to why I don’t ignore these altogether? I’ve already covered this in a previous comment but will restate:

      Lots of reasons:

      1. It’s become a sort of tradition in Skepchick world that I do this.

      2. I’m somewhat fascinated by the general Twilight fascination, particularly as it relates to the messages teenage girls are receiving. As I said, I think it’s important to ‘know thine enemy’ in these sorts of issues as a driver for good conversations.

      3. Related: Even if it’s awful, it’s important to understand the things in pop culture that are really popular. There are lots of reasons for this. See this article for some of them (IMO): http://www.themanversion.net/tmvblog/2011/11/its-important-that-we-see-the-twilight-movie/

      • Avatar of mrmisconception

        Am I the only one who is tired of seeing poorly written characters, boring dialog, insipid acting, plot holes the size of the Taj Mahal, etc. being waved away with the excuse “well, it’s only a romance/popcorn movie/young-adult novel/etc.”? That is in general, not aimed at this movie that, I will repeat, I haven’t seen.

        If you like it, fine; no one is saying you can’t or shouldn’t but don’t expect no criticism. Lazy writing that is called out as lazy writing is an opinion; calling something boring, plotless tripe is an opinion; worrying that it promotes a harmful agenda of passivity is an opinion. If you wish to counter it with arguments, please do so, but don’t just say it’s a harmless romance it doesn’t have to be good because, while you are right, that is not a position I think you want to defend.

        If I say that Ayn Rand’s books would be best left to fester on library shelves rather than give self-important highschoolers more reason to think the world revolves around them it is an opinion. If I say that The Catcher in the Rye was one of the most overrated pieces of self-indulgent drivel I’ve ever read it’s an opinion. I am sure that a lot of people would disagree with my assessment, and if they wished to have a fair argument about it I might oblige (I won’t BTW) but if they simply say “you don’t know what you’re talking about” it’s easy to dismiss.

        Unimaginative shit with little to no plot or character developement is given far too much leeway already, we don’t need to give it all a pss just because “a lot of people like it”. In fact that’s even more reason to push for higher standards.

    • Avatar of mrmisconception

      @kimberlyeddy
      I would like to paraphase your own question back to you.

      If you really despise the review that much, why are you forcing yourself to read it?

  33. Avatar of benjaminsa

    Thanks for the reviews, all of them. This comment is late but anyway, had some random thoughts:

    Sad to see the rotten tomatoes rating is 27% reviewers and 74% audience favourable. Far too high.

    Interesting to see the huge fan fiction world that has spanned out of Twilight, simply because the characters are vapid empty canvases that you can write anything using them, especially since Stephanie Meyer has a degree in English . I found this blogradio interview fascinating: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/allaine/2011/01/21/twilight where both authors actually wrote Twilight fanfiction, but don’t like twilight.

  34. Avatar of Masala Skeptic

    Oh! And one more thing: I *hate* the idea that we should be glad that Twilight exists solely because it’s written by a woman and has female characters. That’s bullshit.

    If those characters are crappy and one-dimensional and don’t provide a compelling story, it is just as important to hold them up to the same scrutiny as any story without female characters, written by men.

    Nobody gets a pass just because they’re a chick. That’s part of what feminism is, last I checked.

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