Well, it’s finally happened. After years of being bested by Twi-hards in the movie ratings, The Twilight Saga: Eclispe has officially surpassed the century mark with the release of Twilight (2012).

Yes, the final installment in the saga, which was originally released in 2012, has just surpassed the century mark in worldwide box office sales, earning over $100 million in theaters around the globe. It is the first movie in history to do so, and it has done so just as theaters have begun to open their doors again, after the pandemic forced them to close. (The film’s premiere was also delayed by a week due to the pandemic.)

So, it seems that even in the age of digital media, celluloid film is still attractive to moviegoers, and it doesn’t hurt that the final installment in the Twilight series is one of the most anticipated movies of the year.

The Last Stand

The Twilight series finale, The Last Stand, begins with an ominous voice-over: “Now is the winter of our discontent.” (A line that was famously misheard by an audience member at a Star Wars premiere.)

The Last Stand picks up immediately after the events of Breaking Dawn – Part 2, in which Bella’s vampire boyfriends (played by the series’ stars, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner) successfully captured and imprisoned her. (This is the first film in the series to feature the twins, Xavier and Ansel.)

As in most apocalyptic tales, the world is on the verge of destruction, with the remaining human population struggling for survival. (It is worth noting that vampires are able to go dormant in the winter, staying hidden from the sun and unable to transform into animals or wolves. So, while it may seem like there is no hope for the human race, that is simply not true. Vampires may be scarce, but they are not extinct.)

So, with nowhere to go and nothing to do, the main characters – Elizabeth, Charlie, and the unborn baby – decide to hole up in a cabin and wait for the apocalypse to pass. Well, at least that is what Charlie wants, and Elizabeth doesn’t disagree. She’s seen it all before, and she’s had it pretty rough. In fact, the only person she seems to want to be with is Charlie.

The first half of The Last Stand largely consists of rifts appearing in the walls that separate the cabin from the outside world, allowing the cold weather to come inside and turn everyone into beasts. (It would be nice if, at least once in this movie, they would have put the cabin in the woods instead of the frozen tundra. That way, we could have actually felt a bit of a change in climate. But no – they had to go and stick it in the arctic circle, which, I’m sorry to say, does not count as “frosty” by my standards.)

Anyway, the first half of The Last Stand is a tense and frightening ride, as the audience watches the three leads try to stay alive, and they do so by relying on their wits rather than fancy technology. (If you’ve read my reviews of the first three Twilight films, you know that I’m not very fond of technology in movies. To me, it feels like a cop out when a writer says that a character is “plugged in.” I want to see smoke coming out of their ears or out of their noses or – you know, something. A tech-free existence feels more genuine to me than the alternative. Of course, I also recognize that there are many viewers who appreciate the way technology enhances a movie-going experience.

It’s An Unexpected Gift

The second half of The Last Stand is when things start getting really interesting. After the initial rifts appear in the walls, the “beast” part of the title refers not to the weather but to our main protagonists’ sudden ability to transform into animals. (Laurie, the mother of the unborn baby, also starts transforming into a bear, which I guess is fitting because her son is, in fact, a bear cub. I swear, some of the animals in this movie are just asking to be named. (And no, I am not making this up – it really does happen that frequently in the stories.)

Our heroes soon learn that there are three other survivors of the apocalypse living in a nearby cabin. Two of the survivors are strangers to them, but they soon realize that this is no ordinary apocalypse and that there is more at stake than just their lives. The strangers (who they soon dub “The Others”) are secretly vampires and shapeshifters who, for quite some time, have been battling for dominance over the human population. (The battle is brutal, with the occasional innocent person getting caught in the crossfire) The vampire whose blood the three leads are drinking has been siring children with Elizabeth, who was turned at the end of Breaking Dawn – Part 2. (While this part of the movie is mostly focused on the conflict between the vampires and the humans, it is also intriguing to see how the animals are affected by the transformation serum, which gives our heroes their special qualities.)

Our leads also come across a mysterious journal, written by a man named Abel Mason, who chronicled the end of the world and the domination of the vampires. According to the journal, the man known as “The Maker” – a vampire who lives in hiding and protects the descendants of Adam, the first human – is soon going to make a move to take back what is rightfully his, and the last few survivors, including Elizabeth and the twins, will have to make a choice: fight or flight. (It is clear that they don’t want to fight. Even Elizabeth, who is fiercely protective of her unborn child, doesn’t want to hurt anyone, including the men who raised her.)

So, what will the three leads do? Will they join the battle and risk turning into a beast themselves? Or will they find a way to flee, leaving their newfound friends to fight the good fight alone?

Bringing Order To The Chaos

Well, that is the question, isn’t it? And while I would love to tell you that I have the answer – that the movie will end with everyone living happily ever after – the truth is, I don’t know. (I’m sorry – it’s not my fault. Seriously. I don’t know. I’ve been fooled before. And it’s not like I’ve been lucky enough to see these movies a hundred times and get it right every time. So, I don’t know. Forgive me.)

What I do know is that, even after I had seen the movie, I wasn’t fully aware of what was going on. It took a bit of research – a lot of research, actually – to figure out what was going on and why.

For one thing, the movie starts off rather slowly. The opening credits, which are quite literally an establishing shot of a field filled with green grass, white snow, and the sun setting behind a tree, take nearly ten minutes to appear. (Yes, the opening credits are that long.) After that, the movie spends a lot of time in the cabin, which doesn’t leave much room for character development. As a result, the plot starts to feel a bit thin. (I know – I was surprised, too.)

Then there is the matter of the ending. Now, a movie that I’ve seen a hundred times can still bother me with the ending. I find it hard to believe that this is the same movie and not the next one. (Don’t believe me? Watch it again. I’m sure that it will seem quite familiar to you. It’s like looking through a lens that makes every object in the scene seem a little too large and a little too bright. After a while, you’ll start to see things the way they were meant to be seen, rather than the way you’ve seen them before. Then it’ll hit you. You’ll realize that you are in the company of one of the finest cinematic minds of our time, and despite all that you’ve learned about movie making over the past few years, you’ll still have a lot to learn. (This is not meant to be an insult. It is a testament to how much Twilight is able to amaze.)

But, enough of my ranting. Let’s get to the good stuff. To start, let’s talk about Taylor Lautner, who plays Jacob Black. (Yes, that’s right – another boy. It should come as no great surprise that Hollywood stars in their twilight years are starting to look like boys. I mean, seriously. What does this say about the state of affairs in America when an entire generation is growing up with no female role models?)