The general problems with the Twilight books and movies have been discussed over and over again, to where there's really little point in repeating that, at best, they aren't very good. Less discussed is the fact that sometimes the sun hits a scene in one of the movies just right, and a glimmer of potential can be found.
Forget about The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, says Mark, what we need next from Twilight are some historical flashback spin-offs…
At its basest level, The Twilight Saga is a teenage romance with Gothic conventions, set against an ongoing feud between sparkly vampires and a werewolf boy-band. But every now and then, the action segues into a flashback or a throwaway scene that would actually be better than the movie we're watching at the time.
Even with the largely mercenary decision to split the final book into two films, there's just one film remaining- next November's Breaking Dawn Part 2. Summit must be either badgering Stephanie Meyer to write another sequel, or else looking for spin-off ideas.
The unequivocal highlights of Eclipse were the flashback scenes, which generally served to flesh out the mythology and back-story of the characters. The first flashback is essentially a folk tale
about the origin of the werewolf tribe, and their rivalry with the vampires. During a fight to the death with a vampire, the chief's third wife kills herself, and the bloodshed distracts the vampire long enough for the chief to deliver a mortal blow.
This plays into the rest of the film, when the already muddled representation of Bella and other female characters in the film is exacerbated by the idea that self-harm saves the day. Bella quite gamely cuts her wrist while Edward is grappling with arch-vampire-bitch Victoria, and gives him time to regain the upper hand.
Think about all the vampire versus werewolf movies we've seen in recent times. The Underworld films are particularly neo-punk and Matrix-esque in their execution, with varying results from film to film, and of course, the rivalry forms a major part of the Twilight saga. Separated from the consequences of Bella hearing the folk tale in Eclipse though, it could make a far more interesting spin.
Imagine a feature version of the setup in the story, akin to Mel Gibson's Apocalypto, with minimal dialogue and a cast of Native Americans, versus pale, bloodsucking bastards. Hell, when you give dialogue to vampires and werewolves in any movie, it tends to be a bit overripe, so that would solve that problem. This is just one of the tempting spin-off prospects that could come out of Twilight.
Later on in the film, Bella has a conversation with Rosalie Cullen. Up to this point in the series, if the Cullen characters have basically been ascribed by their personality traits, like Smurfs, then Rosalie is “Snooty” Cullen- the one who's married to “Jock” Cullen. Anyway, Rosalie thinks that Bella is being complacent with her mortality, which makes her one of the many audience avatars, whose behaviour towards Bella is intended to be antagonistic, rather than sensible.
Rosalie's flashback goes back to 1918, and her courtship in post-war, pre-Gatsby America. In the most 12A fashion possible, she relates the story of how her seemingly perfect boyfriend beat and gang-raped her with a bunch of his drunken buddies. She was left for dead when “Papa” Cullen found her and turned her into a vampire.
The vengeful Rosalie then dons her wedding dress and murders each of her attackers one by one, finishing with her suitor, Royce. Kill Bill, with a vampire lady, in the 1910s sounds like the coolest thing ever. Perhaps Twi-hards are now saying “Tch, well, obviously a boy would say that”, but then they probably don't realise that Rosalie's also warning Bella about what an arsehole a “perfect boyfriend” might turn out to be.
What makes these spin-offs potentially awesome isn't that they're films which would appeal to boys, of which there are plenty, but that they're films that could take place away from the poisonous, unintentional domestic abuse allegory between Bella and Edward. If I were looking for a spin-off to appeal to the male audience, I would go for a scene in Breaking Dawn Part 1, after Bella's pregnancy halts the honeymoon.
The pair hop on a private jet back to America, after Edward has a discussion with the pilot. I want to know the pilot's story! And I want the pilot to be played by Kurt Russell! Seriously, the boy's spin-off from Twilight would basically be Big Trouble In Little China, at 50,000 feet, and it ends with Bella being rescued from Edward's emotionally domineering behaviour. And a demon baby delivered mid-flight.
Frankly, the appeal of these films is that they're targeted at women. They're also quite endearingly bonkers, and the box office numbers suggest that as much as we bitch about the films, men must enjoy watching them just as much as women, if in a completely different way. The Twilight films are well-intentioned and well-made, but they're less good at actually translating that into something that isn't quite reprehensible on screen.
The reason I have so much enthusiasm for historical spin-offs is because period settings make this kind of story easier to swallow. Self-evidently, Twilight doesn't work as a modernised Gothic romance, because none of its attitudes are any more current than “Harpo” Cullen, the Civil War soldier. Think of The Company of Wolves, rather than Breaking Dawn Part 1, and tell me, no matter what gender you are, that you wouldn't like to see another properly modernised Gothic romance.