The challenging thing about being a Twihard, among the trials of being a grown-up still engaging with the most ridiculed movies of all time, is hearing about how Twilight: New Moon is the worst entry.
Before anyone runs to Rotten Tomatoes to check Twilight’s standings there, New Moon actually isn’t rated the lowest (sitting pretty at 29%, thank you very much), but this is misrepresentative: fans don’t care what stoic critics thought of these dumb vampire movies in the 2010s — when camp appreciation was at an all-time low despite the plethora of ripe content.
When embedded in Fork’s trenches, fan sentiment is king. In that regard, New Moon is last. It gets a bad rap because of a couple of fair arguments. Firstly, it’s inarguably the most breathy, angsty, and romance-focused of the bunch.
If you’ve never seen it or have repressed the memory, Bella Swan half-heartedly fields werewolf Jacob Black’s advances for most of the running time while effectively self-harming so she can hallucinate Edward Cullen and/or scare him into returning after he dumped her and left her stranded in the middle of the woods. Just girly things.
Secondly, as a result of New Moon being a breakup movie, not much happens. The other films have more action, weird lore, and ridiculousness, which leaves fans leaning toward the more socially acceptable installments, like the universally praised (lie) Breaking Dawn – Part 2.
However, if you had tickets for New Moon on opening weekend, the things that make it less favorable now that we’re older were why it connected so well at the time of its release. Teenaged YA fans lived and breathed fantasy romances that were all-consuming but not adult enough to alienate them — that ‘I’d die for you’ longing, restrained only by a PG-13 rating and Stephenie Meyer’s baked-in Mormonist conservatism.
Plus, New Moon’s final act is scorching hot, and I’m not just talking about Robert Pattinson’s drawn-on abs or Jacob’s inability to cool down his core temperature. You can’t tell me that Alice Cullen, adorned with an Audrey Hepburn-esque headscarf, driving Bella through small-town Italy in her sports car to save Edward isn’t a franchise highlight.
The blood-red gowns of the townspeople, the slow-motion footsteps of Bella pounding the pavement towards her vampire ex, and Edward disrobing his sparkly body in full view, ready to be torn apart by the Volturi for his indiscretion. Come on!
The showdown also sets up the Volturi as the demons they truly are, which pays off years later in Breaking Dawn Part 2’s tense endgame. Michael Sheen was having the time of his life as the maniacal Aro, who makes every scene he’s in a 10/10.
The actual worst Twilight movie is Breaking Dawn – Part 1. Before anyone brings up the third act’s swerve into horror movie territory — where Edward redefines what it means to eat your girlfriend out by performing a C-section on Bella with nothing but his teeth — sure, that’s fun. The rest of it, spent at the Cullen home…
Sorry, I actually fell asleep just now while writing that. Do you know what I saw in my dreams? The face of a CGI baby Renesmee, who somehow had heat-styled beach waves as a toddler in Part 2 (and slayed) — but we’re getting off track.
Part 1’s final act is amazingly gruesome, barbaric, and gleefully weird, but the film is excruciating in the run-up. Bella and Edward’s wedding plays like lengthy fan fiction, the honeymoon scenes are uncomfortably sex-obsessed, and Bella learning to drink blood from straw cups to sustain the growing vamp inside of her was entertaining but didn’t justify a movie in and of itself.
Part 1 has hints of Part 2’s hammy brilliance but suffers from the same pacing issues many of cinema’s first halves do. It also doesn’t have that movie’s fake-out battle scene that makes Avengers: Endgame’s portal stuff look anti-climactic. Heads rolled, literally.
Part 1 is not unwatchable, none of the Twilights are. But it’s time to appreciate New Moon’s self-serious love story for what it is and bask in its gorgeous score, autumnal feel, and seasonal depression.
Trudie’s official correct confirmed Twilight movie ranking:
- The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2
- The Twilight Saga: New Moon
- The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
- The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1
Here at The Digital Fix, we’ve got no shortage of Twilight opinions. Read more about the franchise in why we think Rosalie is the best Twilight character, our guide to the Twilight movies in order, and our news on the Twilight TV series release date.