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An unofficial ranking of The Twilight Saga movies, 15 years in the making

Flickr/Claire Schuppel
Laken Kincaid writes about their personal ranking of the “Twilight” saga.

Nearly 15 years ago, Bella Swan graced the silver screen with her beat up pick up truck while hopping between romantic delusions and the conifer trees of Washington State on the back of a boy who sparkles. Even after a decade and a half, my heart is still enthralled with the dueling worlds of vampires, werewolves and all things in between.

To celebrate this milestone and to commemorate the recent “Twilight” resurgence on social media, I found it fitting that I discuss where I rank each of the series’ films. While this list may be contentious in the eyes of some or downright wrong from the views of others, I stand by the ranking below and think they are as reflective of the movies as Edward’s skin is in a meadow.

  1. “New Moon”

I don’t think this comes as a shock to most. While I still think “New Moon” is overall a decent film, I think it is dull compared to the others in the saga. Many of the scenes reflect Bella’s depression throughout the movie as they are boring and lifeless without the vampires that make the series sparkle “like diamonds.” It almost feels like a teen movie trying to relate too hard to its audience. 

I appreciate the introduction of the conflict between the vampires and werewolves, but I think that the wolf arc hurt Jacob’s character significantly. Sure, it was awesome to see another addition of mythos to the universe, but all of the characters were cold and two-dimensional until “Eclipse.” 

There are undoubtedly some redeeming qualities with this movie, particularly with meeting the Volturi for the first time, the death of Laurent and the bopping soundtrack. However, the climax of the movie was lackluster but intriguing enough to draw audiences back to see when (not if) Bella would be turned.

  1. “Breaking Dawn: Pt. 1”

Originally, “Breaking Dawn: Pt. 1” had the pitiful fifth spot on this list. Yet, after rewatching the franchise in its entirety, I have a newfound (albeit slim) appreciation for the movie. I found Bella’s pregnancy struggle drab, especially when compared to the books. Where the novel originally shifted the first person narration from the eyes of Bella to Jacob halfway through, I was left with a sulking dog who just came across whiney.

Robert Pattinson’s acting and the wedding scene saved this film. I could see the pain Edward felt as Bella chose to love a fetus that was eating her alive; he was dying as she was. As for the wedding, yes, I will be playing both “Turning Page” and “A Thousand Years” at my own ceremony. I also enjoyed watching the bond build between the wolves and the Cullens, especially in the scene where Esme offered the Clearwaters sandwiches for guarding Bella. 

I would be remiss not to mention Renesmee (Rigatoni, Rotisserie Chicken or Rasputin as she is colloquially known on TikTok) and how I absolutely hate that CGI baby. That child stares into my soul and judges me with every rewatch,  and it makes the whole film unsavory to a degree. Do I need to even mention the whole grown-man-falls-in-love-with-an-infant thing here either? Sure, it’s a wolf thing, but I don’t like it. 

  1. “Twilight”

This feels like an excellent place for the original movie of the saga. After all, the first and second place contenders on this list would not even exist without their foremost predecessor. “Twilight” lays the groundwork for a story that gets increasingly more intricate with each installment. We are given a keyhole glimpse into what this world actually holds; shapeshifters, newborn armies and ancient vampiric warlords are all foreign. Instead, we see the tale of a clumsy, awkward girl who is loved unrequitedly by a monster. Hate it or love it, the story contains a sweet sentiment.

Nevertheless, “Twilight” did have its quirks. While Kristen Stewart did adapt well to Bella’s maladroit manner, her acting is stiff rather than unintentionally blundering. I understand that it would be hard to recreate this sense of teenage gracelessness, but Stewart grows into this as the series continues showing she has the potential to truly embody Bella. In spite of that, her performance looks like a stage act rather than raw emotion which dissolves the audience’s focus. 

The movie has its flaws in other areas too. The dialogue is a little cringy, but it is something audiences have grown to love throughout the years. That is what makes the earliest feature so intriguing: it creates a status quo and norm off of an untraditional love story and lays the foundation to construct the empire that seceded it. 

  1. “Breaking Dawn Pt. 2”

I could see many avid watchers of “The Twilight Saga” place “Breaking Dawn Pt. 2” as the best in the entire collection. Honestly, they would have many strong points that could both contend with my own and convince me to change my own mind. However, for now, I feel confident with “Breaking Dawn Pt. 2” coming in at number two. Not for anything the film itself did wrong, but just because it is going against a sheer juggernaut that I will elaborate on further down the page.

The last movie of the franchise ends the entire story on a beautiful note and did a fantastic job. Coming from the rather low-action “Breaking Dawn Pt. 1,” fans expected to be wowed and did the movie deliver. Then again, I watched this in theaters with my mom when I was 12 so everything at the cinema left me guffawed. The plot is fluid and easy to follow, painting a story of lovers who now have a newfound hope for the future. Even while preparing to battle the Volturi, the Cullens are also fighting their internal fears of Renesmee aging quicker than they can grasp. There is stress on all sides that is tangible.

However, the best parts of the film are the new characters. As “Breaking Dawn Pt. 2” is the last installment, you would expect the scope of the series’ plot to be as large as possible. This is exactly what happened. Dozens of new vampires and wolves alike emerged and we got to see the true brute force of these creatures in the pinnacle fight scene at the end. To summarize, “Breaking Dawn Pt. 2” is a fever dream in the best way possible. 

  1. “Eclipse”

I don’t even know how to introduce this absolute work of art. Besides the uncanny wigs the actors wore, “Eclipse” is a masterpiece. Coming off of the mellow “New Moon,” “Eclipse” gives the saga an uppercut and slowly peels back the velvet curtain shrouding the overarching vampiric lore of the series. Besides the previous scuffle with James, Victoria and Laurant as well as the brief but painful encounter we had with the Volturi, conflict and gore was strangely out of place. Instead, the main message was that love conquers all despite imminent danger. Now, the theme is that vampires are actually really terrifying. 

It is whiplash in the best possible way. We finally get to understand the motivations behind antagonistic figures like Rosalie or previously secluded characters like Jasper; “Eclipse” finally elaborates on background information we have craved since we first saw the Cullens walk into the lunch room. The feud between Edward and Jacob also reaches a boiling point, even giving a single bit of curiosity as to if Bella would choose the latter instead of the love of her life. Lastly, the final battle in “Eclipse” creates a perfect segue to the all out war we see in “Breaking Dawn Pt. 2.” It makes the attack of the Volturi seem not only feasible but imminent. I also enjoyed seeing Bree Tanner and how her death illustrated just how cruel the Volturi can be. 

On an artistic note, the relationship between Victoria and Riley serves as a beautiful dichotomy to that of Edward and Bella. Throughout the whole movie, Edward is resisting Bella’s wishes to be turned because he cares so much for her, even proposing to her. On the opposite end, Victoria takes the life (and by Edward’s theory, soul) of Riley just to avenge James. While I am not a sucker for romance, I think “The Twilight Saga” does it well and instances like this gives me hope that I will one day have a “Breaking Dawn Pt. 2”-esque wedding with someone special.

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About the Contributor
Laken Kincaid, Editor-in-Chief
Laken Kincaid is the Editor-in-Chief for The Carroll News from Beckley, West Virginia. They are a senior at John Carroll University who is double majoring in political science and communications (digital media) and minoring in leadership development. Laken has written for The Carroll News since the start of their freshman year and has previously served as a staff reporter, campus section editor and managing editor of the paper. They have received 15 Best of SNO awards, a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence award for Region 4 and two honorable mentions from the College Media Association. They have also been recognized by universities like Georgetown for their investigative reports. Additionally, they also write political satire for The Hilltop Show and feature stories on global poverty for The Borgen Project. In addition to their involvement with The Carroll News, Laken is involved with the Kappa Delta sorority, the speech and debate team, the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, the Improv club and other organizations. They also serve as the news director for WJCU 88.7, John Carroll's own radio station, and as the president for John Carroll's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.  Laken also started their own national nonprofit organization known as Art with the Elderly which they have won the President's Volunteer Service Award and the Humanity Rising Award for. When not writing, Laken can be found doing graphic design for their internship with Union Home Mortgage or working as a resident assistant and peer learning facilitator on campus. Laken also enjoys skiing and watching true crime documentaries. In the future, Laken hopes to become a political journalist for a national news organization or to be a campaign commercial editor for politicians. To contact Laken, email them at [email protected].

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