I will discuss mostly the movies I haven’t read most of the books and can only go based on the general opinion of them.
Bella Swan is a terrible character. There are several reasons for that.
1. She has no agency.
She barely has any personality to speak of. Even if you enjoy the books and movies how would you describe her personality? The movie as the book uses narration by Bella(mostly early on in films)but the movies didn’t need it. “Show don’t tell” is an early rule of film making. I think I understand why she doesn’t have a personality. I believe author Stefanie Meyer wanted to make a story were the girls reading it would envision themselves as Bella. The problem is how she(and later the film writers) did it was the same thing that makers of “Dating Sims” and “Eroge Games” do and not give the main character any personality. That way the player can better fit into the game. That’s lazy writing and character building. When you do that you are saying to the reader that you don’t posses the skill to create.
Here is an example an everyman(or person)character done better. John McClane - Die Hard. He’s limited in ability, strength, intelligence. He’s not the best at what he does, he’s balding uses wisecracks and (faux?) cockiness as a way to cover his fear and work thru his personal issues he is also very cunning when push comes to shove. Both at times reserved and laid back you can’t describe his character with only one word or one sentence. You can with Bella and that shouldn’t be the case.
2. She’s a Transparent Protagonist.
She advanaces the story by doing nothing. I don’t feel every female character has to be a “Strong Independent Woman” but they should be interesting and do something to push the narative along. Example Blanche From “A Street Car Named Desire” and Norma Desmond from “Sunset Blvd” are broken characters however you want to see their story. What will they do? What caused them to become this way? How will it end? You never get that from Bella. Yes her parents did divorce and her mother isn’t in the picture but that doesn’t get much focus. She’s not being treated bad at home or school so what’s her problem? Also why is she so special. In any other story she would be a soon to be forgotten background character.
3. Bella hasn’t any real character arc.
When Bella starts getting a bit of a personality later on she’s selfish and self annihilation. The relationship she decides to get into isn’t any better. The best example for her greedy decisions 1. falling off a cliff, getting married young and to a vampire, having everyone think for her and make her decisions for her(Alice & Edward),cock teasing Jacob, having a vampire baby, becoming a vampire and possibly the worst thing. She could have ended the Werewolf v Vampire conflict and oncoming war easily by doing a couple of simple things(such as leaving Forks and/or not having a vampire baby)but doesn’t because Edward stares at her creepily(that’s hot!). She didn’t because she only thought about her on happiness(not her welfare or anyone else’s). What’s even worse is she’s never really punished. The war doesn’t happen. She get’s the cute boy and baby(who’s aging rapidly but ah well). she get’s married becomes a vampire but becomes more beautiful as a result and everyone loves her and will protect her(even though she more than likely wouldn’t do the same for them). She is basically the same character from the first movie to the last.
4. The writers themselves.
Based on general opinion Stefanie Meyer isn’t a good writer. From the first novel through to “The Host” her writing hasn’t improved. so if you are going to adapt the story then you need to surpass the source material. It is possible for examples check out novel and film adaptions of “JAWS” and “THE GODFATHER”. The books aren’t any really great shakes but the films are classics. I’m not saying TWILIGHT would become that but a paid experienced writer should do better than a novice.
Melissa Rosenberg wrote the screenplays for every TWILIGHT movie(her filmography Step Up, Twilight films(uhmm…)and is currently working on a Highlander movie(as per IMDB). Most of her work has been television(episodes of DEXTER, Class of 96, Alyx, Love Monkey, Birds of Prey, Ally McBeal,etc…)why didn’t her writing get any better as well?
As far as the series as a whole the writing, lack of continuity, CGI, character building and dialouge is bad but there is real promise there for world-building. The werewolve and vampire society’s and cultures are a bit interesting but not executed well. Also the most interesting group are the werewolves. Their the protectors of Forks. They have a long history with the vampires and just by themselves. They have valid reasons for what they are doing and a lot of trouble could have been averted if someone listened to them.
While I find the werewolves as a whole as the most interesting thing in the series the best character I feel is “ALICE”. Alice actually gets things done(Ex, Bella’s birthday party, the wedding, saving the day in the final film). All things considered she should be the main character of the series. She may not always be likable but she is the most interesting. As a side note if Alice wasn’t going to be the main character then how about “Jessica”(Anna Kendrick) she was more of a fully realized character than Bella.
I don’t hate “TWILIGHT”. I just feel it was a missed opportunity. I’ve seen an interview where Stephanie Meyer admits she doesn’t know anything about vampire lore(I guess even while writing the story she was never interested in checking it out). It did use to make me angry but then I thought what if I looked at “Twilight” as a satire. If you can do that it may change the way you look at the series. Because hey, you have to find some enjoyment from bad literature and film sometimes.
I’m not going to go in on who is the better writers & directors. I will however take a look at their similarities.
On the surface They may seem different but if you really look at them there are connections. The first is their stories tend to be very intellectual. You have to do actual heavy lifting when it comes to their movies. Each of their movies will have themes that they have obviously thought long and hard about(just check out any interview where they discuss their movies). Which brings up the second trait they share: Almost all of their movies are very “Self Serious”. I’m not saying any of their films are without joy but as the Joker said “why so serious?”. A common complaint that’s been said about most of their films are they are “highfalutin”, “pretentious” and go above the heads of most of the audience to the point they can be unrelatable.
The Wachowski’s 1st major film was “Bound” and then came the first “Matrix” film. These movies has themes on the surface but were also fun and you felt the joy they had when making the films but as time has gone on that feeling has become less and less. The only other exception was with “SPEED RACER”. I wonder could it be because of the failure(box office) that they decided to keep with the “serious” tone since that film failed. It seems that same tone has continued with their next film Jupiter Ascending.
As far as Christopher Nolan goes there are parallels that run in his films. One thing I noticed is he scripts or co-writes most of his films. It makes sense that there is a strong psychological aspect to his films since he has said that these are themes he thinks about. Another thing I’ve notice is a lack of diversity(not ethnic even though that too) but in terms of his catalogue. Can you see him ever doing a comedy? A horror movie? A smaller budget film under 50 million dollars (having a film that doesn’t costar Michael Caine)?
Actually that is a question for all 3 of the directors. It seems since their earliest films (BOUND, MEMENTO) they really deal only with high concept and high budget films. Considering who we are dealing with cost shouldn’t matter. Movies such as “Looper”, “District Nine” and “Safety Not Guaranteed” are high concept but neither are over 30 million dollars. Maybe they feel that a big budget film will give them more visibility and they can better express their interpretation of whatever subject their tackling. I’d like to see them stretch their muscles and tackle a different genre, at a lower cost and while having still have the intelligence their films usually have.
One criticism Christopher Nolan has received(and the Wachowski’s since “Cloud Atlas”) is that his films while are intelligent are also cold emotionally. People say his films are very much like Stanley Kubrick. I do agree with that to a point. In many of his films a character will say how the feel(love for another character for example) and I won’t believe it. There are some exceptions: 1. When Michael Caine is involved(perhaps that is why he keeps using him) and from what I see of the trailer for “Interstellar” I get the same feeling from Matthew Mcconaughey.
I will disagree about the Kubrick comparison on one not though. Kubrick was more diverse. He made a horror film(The Shining), dystopian(A Clockwork Orange) war(Full Metal Jacket & Paths to Glory)psychological eroticism (Eyes Wide Shut)Science fiction Space Opera(2001: A Space Odyssey) comedy(Doctor Strangelove)sword and sandals(Spartacus) film noir(The Killing), etc…while the Wachowski’s and Nolan has worked in some of those genres can you visualize them doing all of them?
If I had to throw in another director it would be Quentin Tarantino. He’s just as good writer. His films may not have the deeper meaning as the previous directors but they do have the same tone. He also specializes in one type of film. Exploitation. Yet within that genre he has tackled other types of films:War(Inglorious Bastards)B movie horror(Death Proof)Historical slavery south(Django Unchained)Mob (Jackie Brown, Pulp Fiction &Reservoir Dogs) revenge(Kill Bill 1 & 2) and that doesn’t even include films he only wrote.
What it comes down to is while I really like the films that Nolan & the Wachowski’s make, I just wished they would get out of their comfort zone. You can be diverse, creative, smart and make your films more accessible to the general audience at the same time.