Why Twilight Can't Beat Harry Potter

I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with Laremy. I enjoyed the Twilight movie, much to my own surprise. I've read the entire series and found the books to be anticlimactic and the Bella/Edward romance to be, at times, completely illogical. But I felt the movie brought the characters to life in a way the book didn't.

I loved that Catherine Hardwicke and Kristen Stewart emphasized what I find most interesting about Bella -- that she is an outsider by choice. She wanted no part of the popularity her new classmates were so ready to bestow upon her, and that helped me understand better why she was drawn to silent, moody Edward, even if he did spend his early scenes merely glaring and posing like a Calvin Klein model from the early '90s. I thought, when he did finally get around to speaking, Robert Pattinson showed us Edward's charm, while I'd always felt he came off as stilted in the books. And I thought the film gave us plenty of time to soak in the early tension between the lovers before James turned up. Secondary characters like Charlie, Billy, Jessica and Mike were funnier than in the book, and all of the Cullens (except Jasper) were well cast. Yes, the special effects and vampire makeup were cheesy, and Edward literally didn't sparkle enough, but I felt the movie was far from the disaster it could've been.

But with all that being said, I think Twilight the movie officially resolves a big debate that's been raging among fans of literature and film: Twilight will never beat Harry Potter.

The Twilight movie has already gotten mixed reviews from both critics and die-hard fans of the books. (Check out our open thread for proof). This polarized reaction was inevitable, due to the very nature of the story. At its core, Twilight is the story of an ordinary girl who falls in love with a man who is far too perfect to be human. As much as Edward may protest that he's a dangerous monster, we, like Bella, know that he would never hurt her, and we're right. He remains her devoted admirer and fierce protector all the way through.

The main conflict of Bella and Edward's relationship, whether or not she should sacrifice her mortal life to be with him forever, is so unique to the specifics of the world Stephenie Meyer created, it doesn't even resonate as a metaphor for us mortal readers/film-goers. (And this problem will only worsen if the film franchise makes it all the way to the bizarre Breaking Dawn). Twilight is a piece of romantic-fantasy wish fulfillment. Edward represents the perfect lover you wish for but can never have in real life, whether you have a thing for vamps or not. If fans of the book are disappointed in the movie, it's not because Hardwicke failed to bring anything Meyer wrote to life. It's because her version of the fantasy didn't quite match their own, which is something no director could ever have pulled off for every fan.

Now, if you were to ask me to compare the Twilight movie to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, I'll admit it would be difficult to decide which is a better film. Sorcerer's Stone has many significant shortcomings. While it did a fantastic job of visually capturing the dark and delightful world Harry Potter inhabits, it failed to match the character depth of the novel. But as the series continued, better directors were hired. Daniel Radcliffe matured into a skilled, intelligent actor, and the Potter movies improved. Unlike Twilight, they had staggering budgets and marquee actors to work with, but they also had something more important, a better hero battling bigger evil. The themes of Harry Potter's saga -- what it takes to be a hero and how to choose good in a world where evil always seems to win -- are questions that actually matter to the human race. The Harry Potter series takes us out of ordinary life and into a fantastical world, but the characters' emotions never stray from the truth of human existence.

Harry Potter is a fantasy character who real humans can see pieces of themselves in. And that's something Edward Cullen can never beat, even if he does sparkle.