Twilight, All Night
I watched all four movies in a row—in a theater full of superfans—and lived to tell the tale.
6:26 Bella awakes with Romeo and Juliet on her pillow, a sop to the subtext-impaired.
6:28 Bella’s friends are still paired off the way they were before summer break. Apparently in the Twilight universe, even adolescent humans mate for life.
6:36 “You’re my only reason to stay alive—if that’s what I am,” Edward says.
6:41 Glancing around the theater, I notice that a couple in my row have brought their own blanket to snuggle up with. They’re in for the long haul.
6:49 Edward dumps Bella after learning that Victoria (now played by Bryce Dallas Howard) intends to avenge her mate’s death at Edward’s hands by killing his human consort. A shell-shocked Bella trips over a tree in the forest and faints. Someone needs to do a supercut of the series’ heroine falling on her ass, which seems to happen every several minutes.
6:56 Although he’s thousands of miles away, Edward appears in ghostly form to warn Bella when she’s getting into trouble. I can’t help but think the first film would have taken some of the curse off this unbearably saccharine gimmick with a wink or a nod, but Chris Weitz’s directing lacks the wit and self-awareness Catherine Hardwicke brought to the first installment. Spoiling any delusion that Hollywood is a meritocracy, Weitz was given the job after killing off the Golden Compass series with a fizzled franchise-starter.
6:59 Jacob is clearly crushing on Bella, although she’s blind to it, and perhaps to her own attraction to him. She procures a pair of defunct dirt bikes for the mechanically inclined Jacob to fix, thus giving them ample reason to spend time together in Edward’s absence.
7:05 Did I mention Jacob’s a werewolf? Now he knows it as well, and is spending his free time with his fellow Quileute mutants. Why are they all so hairless in their human form? They look as if they’ve just stepped out of an ad for bodybuilding supplements.
7:08 Bella gets a motorcycle of her own, and promptly … falls off.
7:11 Having realized that the rush of danger will make Edward appear to her, if only as a ghostly superego, Bella takes a double date to an action movie called Face Punch. The offscreen dialogue—“No, you put your gun down or I’ll blow your head off”—is the closest New Moon gets to a bona fide joke.
7:34 Jacob’s been avoiding Bella, so she goes to his house. A confrontation with his tribal brethren turns angry, until a particularly hot-tempered Quileute turns into a werewolf. As the wolf lunges for Bella, Jacob emerges from the house and starts running at it. Bella screams for Jacob’s safety until he, too, changes form. The wolf is out of the bag.
7:37 “It’s not a lifestyle choice,” Jacob says of his lycanthropy. “I was born this way.” Throw in his body-sculpted, manscaped physique, and you have to wonder if his competitive interest in Bella is just a way to get Edward to notice him. Homosocial deconstruction, activate!
7:55 Believing Bella dead, Edward plans the vampire equivalent of suicide by cop. He heads to Italy, the home of a three-vamp tribunal called the Volturi, intending to expose his diamond-skinned self to a crowd of humans and earn the Volturi’s fatal wrath. (They don’t have many rules, but keeping the existence of vampires secret is the big one.) It’s not easy to kill a vampire, but they’re pretty good at it.
8:00 Bella, naturally, arrives in the nick of time, but not before Edward has unbuttoned his shirt and taken a half-step into the sunlight. He’s got body hair, along with alarmingly pale skin and hipbones you could balance a lunch tray on.
8:03 “It doesn’t make sense for you to love me,” he says to Bella. The sound of noses being blown in the audience.
8:05 Edward and Bella pile into an elevator to meet the Volturi. Apparently the undead favor opera as elevator music.
8:08 In addition to being exempt from Edward’s ability to read minds, Bella is apparently impervious to the Volturi’s powers as well, an indication that her relationship with Edward serves some as-yet-unknown higher purpose. She’s human, but not ordinary.
8:10 Good lord, head Volturi Michael Sheen’s wig is painful to look at. Is Volturi Italian for “slumming character actor”?
8:21 The audience loses it en masse for the first time, busting out laughing at the sight of Edward, in flashback, running through a meadow in breeches and loose-flowing shirt.
8:25 The second break between movies. New Moon gives Pattinson a little room to indulge his inner Dean, which is a welcome break from all his alabaster mooning, but it’s lacking in ketchup bottle moments. It’s not nearly stylized enough to pass as a fairy tale, but the series feels as if it’s departed the real world, and there’s no turning back. On the way out of the theater, the security guard asks, “Do you know this isn’t over?” We know.
8:47 Half of the blanket couple asks the three chattering women next to me to keep it down. It does not go well. The phrase “Mind your fuckin’ business” is used.
8:49 Edward proposes to Bella. “Marriage is just a piece of paper,” she says, sounding like an emancipated young woman except for the fact that she clearly wants to be contradicted.
9:03 Taylor Lautner enters in a tight, rain-soaked T-shirt. The woman in front of me spasms and extends her arms. Team Jacob.
9:08 Jacob explains how wolves “imprint,” forming an unbreakable bond with another creature. They mate for life.
9:12 My wife and I have been bingeing on The Good Wife recently, but it’s taken two and a half movies for me to spot Elizabeth Reaser—aka Will Gardner’s sporty ex-girlfriend—as the Cullen materfamilias. She’s among a raft of familiar faces, including Dakota Fanning, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Michael Sheen, who pass by unrecognized until the end credits. It’s not that they disappear into their roles so much as their bad wigs and thick makeup. For all the money piled into the Twilight films, there’s an amateurish, overstated quality to them, as if they’re staffed by movie-of-the-week veterans thrown out of work by the reality TV boom.
9:17 Quileute story time. Along with a handful of werewolf pups, Bella is initiated into the tribe’s lore, which includes their initial encounter with a man who was “hard like stone and cold as ice.” Given Meyer’s penchant for the on-the-nose descriptors like “tomato red” and “coal black,” it’s safe to say the phrase comes straight from the book.
9:18 In the story, the tribe is saved by the suicide of a chief’s wife, who cuts her belly open with a knife to distract a savage vampire. The series’ suicide fetish begins in earnest.
10:02 It’s Bella’s turn to be horny. Edward responds, “Believe me, I want to. I just want to be married to you first ... I know it’s not a modern notion.” They work out a deal: She’ll accept his proposal, and he’ll turn her into a vampire, but not until after graduation.
10:11 Victoria is on the hunt, with an army of unpredictable, superstrong newborn vampires in tow. Along with Edward and Jacob, Bella retreats to a mountaintop hideaway, which is promptly hit by a major snowstorm. Jacob, who goes shirtless even in the snow, slips into Bella’s sleeping bag to share his wolf-life body heat. Edward doesn’t like it much. “I am hotter than you,” Jacob points out. A big laugh from Team Jacob.
10:14 Edward calls Bella “Mrs. Cullen,” but she hedges: “I at least want to hyphenate my name.” (You go, girl.) Jacob overhears and prepares to storm off in an unrequited huff. Bella’s concerned for his safety, so to keep him out of the fight, she kisses him.
10:21 The final battle. (Fights in the Twilight movies seem to inevitably start with people running directly at each other.) Victoria loses, naturally, but the disappearances and deaths linked to her vampire recruitment program have attracted the Volturi’s attention, which spells serious trouble ahead.
Sam Adams writes for the Los Angeles Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Time Out New York, the Onion A.V. Club, and the Philadelphia City Paper. Follow him on Twitter.