I first learned about Twilight four years ago, when a former employer at a talent agency handed me a note that read "Twilight Stephenie Meyer" and instructed me to pick it up at a local bookstore. After walking into the store, I handed this piece of paper to the first employee I could find. I said: "Do you guys have a book called Twilight?" and "It's by or about someone named Stephenie Meyer." The employee just laughed and pointed over my shoulder to a six-foot-tall display for the book series. Possibly out of resentment, I remained willfully ignorant of the series ever since. I have gleaned this and only this info in the years since: There is someone named Jacob and someone named Edward. One is a vampire and one is a werewolf, not sure which is which. One is played by Taylor Lautner and one is played by Robert Pattinson (whose last name I recently learned was not Paterson). I also haven't seen either in any other movies, other than T-Laut's appearance in Valentine's Day (appearing with his then-girlfriend Taylor Swift — I know that). Also, Kristen Stewart is in the movies. I don't know her character's name or if she is a human or vampire or werewolf. That is all I knew when I was assigned to go see a screening of Breaking Dawn – Part 2 and told to write down my confused thoughts and questions as I watched. Here are my notes, chronologically. (Spoilers follow. But if you, like me, are clueless about Twilight, they won't ruin your day.)
The audience is already screaming. Is that just a credits thing?
Are these other people in the credits famous too? Kellan Lutz was just on 30 Rock, right? Ashley Greene is somebody, I think.
They booed Kristen Stewart. Reminder: Don't anger millions of teenage girls; they know how to hold a grudge.
Is this very long opening scene a famous staple of the series, like the Bond movies, but only in black, white, and red and consisting solely of shots of the woods?
I think Kristen Stewart's a vampire? But that's a new development? And are her eyelashes always that long?
Robert Pattinson tells her that their body temperatures are the same now. Are vampires super hot or super cold? I would guess they are warm-blooded because that sounds sexier.
Is his face always like that? It's like he washed it with a powdered doughnut.
Why is K-Stew stronger than R-Patz? Is it because of Water for Elephants?
Why does R-Patz smirk so much?
Do all these movies take place in the woods? And why is that owl awake during the day? Vampowl?
Vampires are so fast that their movement makes a loud gust sound, like a brooding Speedy Gonzales.
Vampires can fly without turning into bats? Less lost clothes, I guess.
So many smirks from R-Patz.
Vampire diet: Either (a) Suck the blood from humans or (b) Eat mountain lions and other comparable large cats? No happy medium?
OK, Taylor Lautner is here. Is he Edward or Jacob? I need a clue.
Some people have names like Ed and Jake and some have names like Renesmee? Does it have some vampire meaning or is it like when terrible parents give their kids names like Sebastian?
Why does T-Laut seem to care about this baby so much? Is this going to get creepy?
And who are all these other people? Are they vampires?
Okay, they're vampires.
Everyone is so pretty. One must be this Kellan Lutz fella — but which one!?
Why does T-Laut just hang out with a bunch of vampires?
Who is the pixie-haired one? She is pretty. Is she famous? I think that's Ashley Greene. She dated a Jonas brother, I think. If so, why is that something I know?
How old is that baby? A day? 12? 3? Also, why does it look so weird? It's like she was just cut and pasted into this film from some ten-year-old home movie.
List of vampire skills: read thoughts.
Renesmee is growing really fast. Vampires grow fast but apparently stop aging at a very arbitrary part in their lives.
Why is the audience cracking up at this scene where T-Laut implies he is really fond of this baby and that it's a "wolf thing"? Whatever imprinting is, it is apparently hilarious to 15-year-old gals.
They call T-Laut "Wolfy?" Is he the only werewolf? You'd think so, if that generic nickname distinguishes him.
Spoke too soon. Here come some others. Unless those wolves are just wolves and because he is a werewolf he is capable of speaking to all wolves, like a Dr. Dolittle who can only talk to one animal. And that animal is wolves.
Eww, now I get imprinting. He made that vampire baby the love of his werewolf life. Or something. It's kinda gross — definitely weird. And even more disturbing that those teenage girls found it so funny.
T-Laut nicknames Renesmee "Nessie." K-Stew angrily shouts, "You nicknamed my daughter after the Loch Ness Monster." Is the Loch Ness Monster real in this world or was K-Stew making a joke? If the latter, why would Nessie be a laughable idea, while talking wolves are serious business?
Are these movies exclusively shot with close-ups?
Seriously, which one is Edward?
So much woods.
Did all the vampires live together before they built/found this house for K-Stew and R-Patz? Why do some vampires get privacy and others don't?
Vampires just wear regular people clothes? When did capes go out of style?
Vampires don't sleep? They used to have to shut down during the day ... Now they're just balls out, 24-7?
Are K-Stew and R-Patz about to do it?
Kids are allowed to watch this?
Do all the movies have these long, intense sex scenes?
Are the sparkles that radiate from K-Stew real or was that just expressionist filmmaking?
Did that sex last a zillion hours?
Who died that "Charlie" would care about? Also, who's Charlie?
Why does T-Laut ride a motorcycle if he's a wolf? Can't he just use his wolf speed? It's like a cheetah driving a Camaro or a jaguar driving a Jaguar.
Is this movie set on Earth?
Aha — I think K-Stew's character is named Bella.
Is that mustache guy Charlie? I think he's Bella's dad. He seems kinda young. Are these movies the reason this guy gets to star in Revolution?
Wait. Some people in the movie don't know that there are vampires and werewolves? There are people in the movie just like me!
The audience likes this scene where T-Laut undresses. T-Laut is in really good shape. Does he exercise a lot or are werewolves just able to decide whatever shape they want to change into? Do any opt to be paunchy werewolves?
Charlie is a cop. Why are there regular cops in this magic land? Shouldn't one of these super-humans just hop in some spandex and fight crime?
Vampires wear cardigans?
Charlie asks Bella if she changes into an animal and she laughs it off. Vampires don't turn into bats?
Charlie says he missed Bella? Where has she been? Powdering R-Patz's face for a decade?
Why is that beefy vampire so beefy? If they are inherently super-strong, what's the point of all those muscles? Seems like gilding the lily or bloodening the rose.
Hey, voiceover! Where'd that come from?
There is talk of ... Voltaires? Volturis? Either way, I think they're the bad guys.
The kid is growing too fast? For what? To make baby gifts worth it?
Aha, EDWARD is the vampire. It took around 40 minutes, but I have now finally nailed down all three lead characters' vampire/werewolf tendencies.
What is happening? I think some blond vampire, who isn’t friends with these vampires anymore, went to go rat on Edward and Bella for having a baby? Because babies are not allowed? I have no idea. And again, which one is Kellan Lutz? Is it the baby? Is Kellan a boy's name?
Denali? Is that a place or a person or like a vampire secret? What is this unexplained mystical word?
Are all these vampires related? Are they famous vampires? Like, are there millions of vampires but Edward is known for being super-cool, like the Jon Hamm of vampires? Or are there only 60 vampires out there, so he's just a big fish in a small vampire pond? Which then begs the question: Are piranhas the vampires of fish?
There's a vampire castle! Finally, a nod to vampire tradition.
Wait, is this another planet?
Ah! It's Wesley Snipes (from 30 Rock).
Are they British or just fancy?
Vampires can read minds? It would be easier if someone would just list what vampires can't do. Invisibility? Laser eyes?
After Wesley Snipes alluded to some sort of vampire crime committed, there's a close-up of Edward teaching his kid piano. Is teaching a baby vampire piano a crime?
There is a flashback to the time when people lived in little villages. There were vampire babies that were bad, so the Volturi(?) killed them. Have these guys been the bad guys in all the movies? Like, are Volturi : Twilight :: Nazis : Indiana Jones movies?
Vampires can do telekinesis? Again: Someone just tell me what they can't do.
Aha, you can burn vampires! So: not flame-retardant.
Are all vampires immortal? Were they all born at the same time, like in a big litter? Why do some vampires look like they're 20 and some look like they're 42? Is Edward 200 years old? If so, why would he want to date a person Bella's age? She's pretty and all but that's still a mighty big age difference.
Edward says Alice left. Which one is Alice? Why couldn't they do a quick roll call at the beginning?
Like werewolves, why would vampires drive a car if they're super-fast? If they don't sleep, then conserving their strength or fatigue wouldn't be the issue. And why would they drive a Volvo? Concerned about safety in case they are in a fender bender? That seems like it shouldn't make the list of vampire concerns.
Vampires seem to not be affected by the weather, so why do they wear jackets and turtlenecks?
Edward and Bella bring Renesmee to meet a new crew of vamps. The vamps are like, "Whaaaa, we have never seen anything like that baby!" And Edward is like, "Relax, she's cool." And I'm like, "Can the voiceover come back and explain why this super-baby is super?"
The guy who played the pharaoh in the Night at the Museum movies can control water. So some vampires can control the elements, making the jacket and sweater choices all the more confounding.
Oh jeez, they're back in the woods.
Aha, they're in New Orleans, so it's definitely Earth.
They are sucking blood! That is pretty long to have to wait for bloodsucking in a vampire movie, but better late than never.
Alistair? Is he a famous vampire? I really need a Vampire Who's Who.
Vampires can fly!
Isn't Anna Kendrick in these movies? Where is she? She should be here by now.
There are Dracula-type vampires in this universe as well? These guys nail the, "I vant to suck your blood" accent. Can't wait for Nosferatu to show up with a six-pack.
Were all these people in the old movies too? That's a lot of characters.
All these vampires from all over the world came to this powwow dressed so cool and fancy, yet Edward is wearing a baggy hoodie. Class it up, Ed. Act like you've assembled a multi-ethnic rag tag group of vampires before.
That being said: What is this powwow about? They're definitely talking and it's serious, but beats me. Some people want to fight and others don't because of ... some reason.
Why does Edward have a scar on his chin? Is that just something makeup forgot to cover up?
Who is Carlisle? Wesley Snipes does not like Carlisle.
Why is Wesley Snipes so cheeky in this?
More R-Patz smirks.
I heard there were teams in this movie, and I've seen NO teams.
So baby vampires sleep?
Who is Jasper? More names spoken without me having any idea who they belong to. I bet one is Kellan Lutz. He is such a Jasper.
Are Edward and Bella about to have sex again? Nope. As a 27-year-old man, it's weird to hear yourself share in the disappointment of a room of teenage girls.
More unnecessary driving.
Oh hey, it's Wendell Pierce from The Wire and Treme. Is he in all the movies? I imagine going from a David Simon production to this might cause vertigo.
Okay, he's not a vampire.
Are there black vampires?
Wait, are there no black vampires?
There are giant scissors in Renesmee's bedroom. Is that the Chekov's gun of the movie? Are they going to swipe the finale of Dead Again, rightly assuming that their intended tween audience will never recognize it?
Jacob is invited to Bella's family Christmas. Charlie's mustache is really growing on me.
Another helicopter shot! Is it why the CGI is so bad, they spent all their money on helicopters?
Looks like a fight scene is coming. Are there always fights? I didn't know there were fights.
I also didn't know it snowed this much in Washington state. I thought it was a fairly temperate place, yet inches of snow lie in front of these guys.
All these werewolves lined up to fight with our good guy vampires? I would never have pegged them for allies. But Volturi wars make strange bedfellows, as nobody says.
Jacob, in wolf form, steals a glance with Renesmee. Does she love him back? That would be even weirder.
Why does Dakota Fanning wear so much eye makeup? What's with the correlation between vampirism and eye enhancement, and why does it just happen to females? You'd think there'd be a male version, like a handlebar mustache that points up or down depending on if the given vampire was hungry.
Wesley Snipes is sure acting like a creep. Also, why does he have an unused earring hole?
Renesmee is a "half immortal." Not possible. You cannot divide infinity by two.
Vampires don’t want to be noticed? Then why do they all dress so weird?
This stand down is taking for-ev-er.
Ashley Greene is back. I think she's Alice and my fave character other than Charlie's mustache.
Woah! Wesley Snipes jumped in the air to challenge a charging good-guy vampire and lands with the good vampire's head in his hand. I think that was Carlisle? It might also be Kellan Lutz — I. Don’t. Know.
This is really intense? They are ripping faces in half. First the endless sex, now face-ripping: Kids watch this?
The audience is freaking out! I am also freaking out.
Does the audience recognize the specific wolves that are dying? It just seems like generalized furry carnage to me. But is that racist towards wolves?
CGI? More like CG-Why is the CGI so bad?
Awwwwwww, Bella and Edward are fighting together. (A couple that fights together, stays together?)
How are some vampires better fighters than others? Are they trained fighters? Shouldn't Bella, as a new vampire, be oblivious about how to throw a punch? Or are vampire fighting skills just uploaded into your brain like in The Matrix?
OOOOOOOOOOOOH SHIT! Wait, what? That whole fight didn't happen! It was just in Wesley Snipes's mind. Did the rest of the audience know that and still go crazy? Whoa! Well, played. You got me, movie.
Some vampires that look like nondescript tribespeople are walking up to Wesley Snipes. They are wearing almost not clothes, yet are as warm as a warm cucumber. The jacket conundrum still nags at me.
So, this tribesperson is apparently a "half immortal" like Renesmee. He can eat blood or just regular human food? Then why not just eat regular food? I can eat regular food and caviar, and I generally just stick with regular food rather than go through all that trouble for the rare stuff.
What is that bright light? Is that the Twilight?
Edward called Jacob his friend and the crowd went "awwwwwww." Edward and Jacob were not friends before this movie? Go figure. Jacob sure hangs around a lot.
"I want to show you something," said Bella and then here comes a romantic montage from all the movies. Is this an Edward and Bella supercut that someone made on YouTube? Is it in the book? How do you write a supercut?
They had a regular people wedding, not a vampire wedding? Seems like at the very least you'd have blended traditions.
"No one has ever loved anybody as much as I love you," said Bella. Is this a fact or is she just being hyperbolically romantic?
One last close-up!
Crazy-long end credits where they show each cast member and say who they played. Some don't look familiar at all. Wait — these people weren't in this movie. It's a curtain call with everybody from the whole series — yeesh.
But hey, there's Anna Kendrick! So I didn't dream that she was involved somehow.
Yep, Ashley Greene was Alice, the pixie. Jesse: 1, Twilight: 9,000,000.
Oh! Kellan Lutz was the beefy one. That's why he was so beefy, because he's famous.
And it ends as it began: woods.