It’s been a few years since the first Twilight movie was released. Back in 2012, Stephenie Meyer’s young adult novel about vampire-like creatures in the Northern Lights was a massive success. The film adaptation, which featured stunning visuals and an almost perfect cast, broke several box office records, earning over $290 million at the box office worldwide. Since then, the Twilight movies – or, at least, the subsequent films focusing on Bella and her friends – have become something of a nostalgia trip for Gen-Xers and millennials who grew up watching the films as teenagers. The first movie was actually loosely based on an episode of the 1960s classic The Twilight Zone, in which a man becomes convinced that he’s actually a vampire and that his daily bloodlust is driving him to madness.
The 2017 film adaptation of Meyer’s beloved series, Twilight Wonderland, takes place four years after the events of the first movie. The plot focuses on the adventures of a group of teens who become obsessed with an app that helps them cheat at cards – leading them to try and use the power of mind control to eliminate their competition in a magical card game. While certainly a darker take on the genre, Twilight Wonderland is not without its charm. With its colorful cinematography and vibrant soundtrack, the movie is very much a throwback to some of the more memorable films from the 1960s and ’70s, particularly the legendary Alfred Hitchcock Presents. But while the nostalgia may be a factor, this is also a story about today – about the present day and what it means to be a millennial in the modern world. And it’s a feature-length adaptation of a book that was considered too controversial for young adults at the time of its publication. It’s safe to say that, for better or worse, the world of young adult fiction is now a part of pop culture.
Robert Pattinson’s Comeback
While Twilight may have been responsible for bringing vampires into the mainstream (or at least the pop-culture mainstream), it was not responsible for killing Hollywood’s love affair with the genre. The 2017 box office revealed that in 2016, there were 77 vampire movies that were released in North America – the most ever in a single year. And while this may be largely thanks to the success of Twilight, it’s not hard to see why vampires have continued to be popular in recent years. After decades of stories like Twilight bringing vampires – and sometimes even werewolves – into the mainstream, it is no surprise that audiences are thirsting for more. Now, thanks to Netflix and its popular fantasy series, it seems that vampires are no longer a dangerous myth but rather a part of our everyday lives.
It’s fair to say that Robert Pattinson’s return to the big screen was a bit of a comeback. After a four-year hiatus following his role as the tragicomic Edward Cullen in Twilight, the Scottish actor returned to the big screen with a vengeance in 2017’s Lost City of Z. Based on the historical novel by Howard Paster, this epic tale of survival, exploration and danger is the story of a heroic American architect who travels to the heart of Africa to build an orphanage in 1933. As the only survivor of the original expedition, Ken Harris (Pattinson) must fight for his life as he battles malaria, tuberculosis and the growing hostility of the local people. With an eclectic soundtrack that features everything from Duke Ellington to Ludwig van Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, Lost City of Z is an ode to the beauty of classical music and the resilience of the human spirit.
It seems that one of the biggest draws of Lost City of Z was not just the fact that it featured a famous Hollywood actor – although, admittedly, the picture-perfect Matt Damon does add a touch of glamour – but that it was also based on a famous historical novel. As with many great historical novels, the story revolves around power. In this case, it’s not so much about the haves and have-nots of the time as about the struggle for power between those who believe in progress and those who do not. One of the architects that Harris meets during his time in Africa is, in fact, Aleister Crowley (Jeremy Irons), the infamous English-born occultist who founded the magical order, the Ordo Rosae Cubicae – the Rosicrucian Order. While the Order is often associated with pure evil, Crowley is actually one of the main antagonists of the story, and his presence alone makes this film worth a watch. Even those who are not particularly religious will enjoy this fascinating peek into a different time and place as they watch Crowley scheme and connive his way to worldwide domination. While the movie does end on a somewhat downbeat note, with Harris seemingly accepting his fate and reconciling himself with his long-lost love, it still leaves the viewer with an optimistic view of humanity – and a desire to learn more about one of the 20th century’s most notorious men.
While several of Hollywood’s biggest names have been catapulted back into the limelight thanks to Netflix and its worldwide brand of hit series, it has not been lost on fans that another series could potentially revitalize a promising career and give a much-needed boost to an underperforming actor. The chance to step back into the role of Cinderella proved to be the magic touch that helped revive the slumber party comedy, Into the Woods, the 2019 film adaptation of which was widely considered a comeback vehicle for its two titular stars, Meryl Streep and Emily Blunt. Into the Woods was, by all accounts, a box office flop – only making back around $60 million worldwide, although the DVD and Blu-Ray sales helped it to become one of the year’s biggest-selling movie releases. But, despite its underperformance, Into the Woods was a critical and popular success, gaining a near-perfect score of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and being nominated for several prestigious awards, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress for Blunt and Best Original Song for Billie Eilish. The film was also nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, as well as being ranked #10 on Variety’s list of the best films of the year. This is, perhaps, a sign of things to come for Zoë Kravitz. After a relatively quiet decade, the actress bounced back in 2017 with a vengeance, starring in several hit films and TV shows, which have helped to make her one of the most in-demand actresses in Hollywood. In fact, so much is expected of her that she has, perhaps, over-committed herself. While she appears to be settling into a nice, middle-class life in California with her family, she has, in fact, been keeping busy behind the scenes, appearing in several high-profile films and TV shows, including Gucci’s Spring/Summer 2021 fashion campaign, as well as supporting roles in the Harry Potter films and in the upcoming The Aeronauts.
The latest film from director Bill Condon is about a group of teenagers in a post-Pandemic world. Set in the future, but inspired by the real-world events of the last few years, the story follows a group of teens who become obsessed with an app that helps them cheat at cards – leading them to try and use the power of mind control to eliminate their competition in a magical card game. While several film adaptations of young adult books have been relatively successful, this is the first to attempt to bring a cinematic experience to a traditionally literary genre. It’s also, perhaps, one of the most expensive films ever made, with production costs hovering around $20 million. It’s a bold move by 20th Century Fox, and one that may turn out to be one of the wisest investments the studio has ever made.
The Making of a Meme
If you’re a fan of the Twilight movies, then you’ll undoubtedly have seen or read the phenomenal success of Stephenie Meyer’s vampire story online. The hashtag #TeamHollyoaks became a worldwide phenomenon after Kate Hollis, one of the main characters of the British television soap opera, was seen donning a Team Edward T-shirt during a romantic date with businessman Liam Griffin. While it was initially a joke between friends on social media, the trend quickly took off, with Team Edward shirts, leggings and hoodies appearing on Instagram and Twitter around the world. In fact, within a few weeks of its premiere, Hollis’s date with Griffin was one of the top-most discussed topics on social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, even surpassing topics like climate change, COVID-19 and Donald Trump. The hashtag #TeamHollyoaks even appeared on the trending lists of the App Store and Google Play Store.