Most people in their 20s and 30s probably remember being seated in a theater for a midnight premiere of one of the highly anticipated Twilight movies. When Twilight premiered in 2008 and brought Stephanie Meyer’s 2005 novel of the same name to life, it completely took the world by storm.
At its peak, the Twilight fandom was massive. You could see people carrying these big, gothic-looking noir novels everywhere, reading in preparation for the upcoming theatrical release. Stores were brimming with Twilight merchandise, vampire media was growing in popularity, and society was fighting the high-stakes question “Team Edward or Team Jacob?” »
Despite getting mixed reviews from critics, the Twilight saga has been incredibly successful and has seen a spike in popularity recently as all the movies have been added to Netflix this year. With the whole series so readily available to watch again and again – or for the first time if you missed the craze when it started – here are the five movies, ranked.
5/5 New Moon (2009)
If New Moon is your favorite Twilight movie, it’s probably because you’re Team Jacob and you’d rather focus on Jacob’s (Taylor Lautner) relationship with Bella (Kristen Stewart) than Edward ( Robert Pattinson). New Moon is the second installment in the franchise. In the movie, Bella celebrates her 18th birthday with the Cullens, and when she gets the paper cut and starts bleeding, the vampire family can’t control themselves and Edward has to protect her and get her out of the house. This puts him in a bad mood and he decides that being with his family is too dangerous for Bella, so he tells her he doesn’t love her anymore and disappears. Bella, obviously devastated, begins to act recklessly and begins spending more time with Jacob to help ease the pain of losing Edward.
Meanwhile, Bella is hunted by vengeful vampires from the first film and through a clumsy phone game, Edward learns that Bella is somehow dead. So he decides to travel to Italy and expose his vampire skin in public to the Volturi – a group of vampire leaders – which is a death sentence in the vampire world. Edward’s fortune-telling sister goes to Bella to tell her what Edward is planning, and Bella sets out to stop her. New Moon ends with Bella – once again – begging Edward to make her a vampire, and he agrees as long as she marries him. And that’s the end of the movie.
Although the description above may seem full of action and suspense, it takes a long time to get to the climax of the film. It’s basically just Bella reeling from a breakup for two hours with a bit of action sprinkled in here and there, but that doesn’t make up for New Moon’s “meh” feeling, and it really doesn’t compare to other movies in the series.
4/5 Breaking Dawn Point. 1 (2011)
Breaking Dawn Point. 1 premiered in 2011 and saw the highly anticipated wedding between Edward and Bella. It was a magnificent scene and probably etched in the memories of anyone who saw it in cinema for the first time. After the wedding, they depart for their equally memorable honeymoon where Bella finds out she’s pregnant with a baby vampire – which is completely unknown and elicits shock and terror.
The thought of a baby vampire puts everyone in the arms. Jacob, the Wolves, Edward and most of the Cullens hate the idea and want Bella to get rid of it because they fear it will kill her. While Edward’s sister, Rosalie (Nikki Reed) and Bella love the idea of a baby and are ready to protect him at all costs. The plan is to use Edward’s vampire venom to turn Bella at the last minute if things start to go wrong, but that’s not a guaranteed fix to keep her from dying and everyone knows that.
While Breaking Dawn Pt. 1 brings a lot of the franchise’s major plot points to the head, it’s so slow-paced and brooding that it gets a little hard to enjoy at times. Bad humor and borderline grimacing are just part of the Twilight saga, and if you love movies, you already know that. However, Breaking Dawn Pt. 1 feels a bit overdone. Its real saving grace is the warmth between Edward and Jacob’s relationship and the cliffhanger that shows Bella opening her eyes, having finally turned into a vampire.
3/5 Eclipse (2010)
Eclipse, the third film in the Twilight saga, premiered in 2010 and after New Moon, fans needed something more exciting. Eclipse does a decent job when it comes to delivery. In Eclipse, Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) returns for revenge and wants to kill Bella to hurt Edward for killing her companion in the first movie. Victoria creates an army of newborn vampires to come after Bella, which forces the Cullens and the werewolves to join forces to protect her.
Eclipse finally sees Bella make a choice between her love for Edward and Jacob. There have been tensions between the three since the first movie, but in Eclipse she actually has to deal with it and make a final decision. It’s a choice that carries a lot of weight, because if she doesn’t choose Jacob, she risks losing her best friend and sparking a major feud between vampires and werewolves. She inevitably chooses Edward, which Jacob is obviously not happy about, but eventually learns to accept. This whole plot point is so dramatic and feels incredibly high stakes, even though it seems obvious that Bella is going to choose, but it’s another one of those pivotal moments in Team Edward vs. Team Jacob lore.
While Eclipse, like all Twilight movies, has those same moody undertones that can feel a little dramatic, the overall storytelling is pretty good. The battle against the newborn vampires is action-packed and lets the werewolves take center stage a bit and focuses on how these two groups of creatures can work together for a greater cause – this which is seen again in later films. Eclipse isn’t a masterpiece, however, it was definitely the entry the series needed to give it a boost after New Moon.
2/5 Breaking Dawn Point. 2 (2012)
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Breaking Dawn Point. 2 is all about the vampire life for Bella and her newborn Renesmee. She learns to hunt, control her hunger and her strength, and it feels like a really big series finale, because becoming a vampire has always been Bella’s goal. However, having an immortal child is considered an abomination in the eyes of the Volturi, so they sentence the Cullens to death for harboring such a creature. The Cullens then begin to gather all of their vampire friends from around the world to form an army strong enough to take on the Volturi. When the two opposing sides finally meet, the following scenes are action-packed and suspenseful and see the shocking deaths of main characters like Carlisle and Jasper and eventually Aro, leader of the Volturi. However, in an instant, you are brought back to the present moment and see that this was all just a vision Alice was showing Aro to let him know what would happen if he tried to fight. In the end, not wanting to die, he chooses to back down and declares Renesmee to be no threat.
If you’ve seen this movie in theaters, you’ll probably remember the gasps and sighs of relief realizing that none of the fights were real. It was a major moment.
Breaking Dawn Point. 2 ends in typical “happily ever after” fashion. The film is a high-stakes, adrenaline-filled end to the saga that culminates in a beautifully polished arc. All the characters have a good ending, Edward and Bella are together – back in their iconic meadow – and all is well in the world. What more could you ask for?
1/5 Twilight (2008)
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Presented in 2008, Twilight is the film that started it all. Bringing the beloved book to life has garnered a sea of mixed reviews, but it’s hard to deny the film’s success and hold on the world. In its heyday, it was all about Twilight. From merchandise to themed birthday parties to treasures of fan fiction, the Twilight saga was gripping and really didn’t stop until the series ended in 2012. Twilight just worked.
The film expertly brought characters from the book to life and also served as a jumping-off point for some actors – like Pattinson, Stewart, Lautner, and even Anna Kendrick – to launch massively successful careers. The film also boasts an excellent independent soundtrack that is likely still playing on a number of Spotify playlists today.
For all its flaws – and of course there are plenty – Twilight is good. It’s a super emo, independent festival, but it’s so much fun, especially if the movies have become a source of nostalgia for you. If you grew up loving the Twilight saga, it’s been in your DNA forever, and it all started with the first movie.