The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 – Review


Love story concludes in not-so-epic fashion

I get the impression that Stephenie Meyer must have been on a Final Destination horror binge when she was contemplating the thrilling epic confrontation that pits the Cullen kin and allies against the Volturi, a coven of vampires that enforce the laws of the vampire world. So they’re like our US Congress, but these are real bloodsuckers.

The execution of the battle sequence is nicely staged, until it leads to the audience having the rug pulled out from underneath them. In that moment any emotional attachment we had to any of the characters, even those who are on the periphery and whose names are mentioned once and soon forgotten (aside from Lee Pace as Garrett, proving to be the most alluring of the newly introduced characters), is gone. It reeks of desperation, as if Meyer was too attached to her characters to see them no harm. To steal a phrase from the YA-stylized Easy A, minus the Gothicism, she didn’t have the “lady balls” to follow through, say unlike J.K. Rowling who killed off one of her series’ important characters to the shock and surprise of readers and eventual viewers.

This discrepancy aside, Breaking Dawn Part Two is over. Fin. Terminou. El Final. No matter what language “The End” or “Finished” is written I can say that this interpretation of the Twilight series has come to a close. We still may have the cinematic adaptation of Meyer’s The Host (coming in 2013), but it’s okay to put a wooden stake in these characters. This bastardization of the vampire mythos is no longer.

If that reads like a condemnation of the series as a whole, then you are right. The phenomenon of the Twilight series is something I’ll never understand. First as a massively popular fantasy romance before becoming a box-office juggernaut, the Twilight series has become the sort of wish fulfillment for teens and soccer moms that need a little bloodsucking with their romantic trysts. Never mind the fact that the series seems to dispute the entire women’s lib movement. How so? Well, our central protagonist, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), forgoes a human life to live a life eternal with vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). She is determined to have a man in her life, be he cold, dead or sparkly – or all three. (So much for Miss Independent.) As much as I want to believe that they are a pair of star-crossed lovers, at least in the case of Romeo & Juliet they had the words of William Shakespeare to back up their case. Stephenie Meyer doesn’t have the same way with words.

If Breaking Dawn Part One felt like a cheap movie because of its non-conclusion, Breaking Dawn Part Two feels oddly with its pacing. Picking up where the first half left off, with Bella surviving her pregnancy by being turned into a vampire, the movie has a lighthearted touch, with moments of intentional and unintentional comedy. Like when Bella as a newly turned vampire makes werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner) her B— by kicking the crap out of him while Edward stands amused at the situation. After some familiarization with the characters, with Bella getting her bearings and learning that today’s vampires sleep on beds instead of in coffins, the narrative sputters along leading to a rousing false climax, before a conclusion with a vision of the future that seems to inherently celebrate pedophilia. Say what?

Without giving too much away, the Volturi are led to believe that Bella and Edward have a human infant that has been bitten and transformed into a vampire, which is a big no no according to the by-laws. While the problem could have been solved over a friendly chat with a Dark Shadows marathon playing in the background, Michael Sheen’s Aro and Dakota Fanning’s Jane and the rest of the nameless Volturi players make their way to Washington to confront the Cullen clan over this malfeasance.

This allows Sheen to overact big time as Aro and the film is better because of it. Sheen is one of those actors that understands the campiness of the Twilight series so he embraces it. He’s not at all frightening or intimidating. If anything he’s more feminine than Bella. I bet underneath that large robe of his Aro’s decked out in undergarments that would make J. Edgar Hoover and Dr. Frank-N-Furter high-five each other. Dakota Fanning is purely window-dressing in her role, limited to only uttering the single word “Pain” a few times.

Of the regulars, they go through the motions as per usual, but at least the actors are more comfortable in their roles. Kristen Stewart seems more alive as a vampire than she ever was as a human. Though it appears to be that newly-minted female vampires still have some PMS to work out before the cycle shuts down for good. The film also includes the necessary moments that will make women swoon (read: removal of shirts). But because this is PG-13 any passionate love scenes are neutered to close-ups, fast edits and no climax. Not even smoking a cigarette afterwards.

If you don’t get too caught up with the climatic battle, it can be a lot of fun. Lots of visceral carnage involving vampires that won’t be attending any hat conventions in the near future. We get vampire-on-vampire beatdowns and wolf-on-vampire action that is well choreographed and orchestrated by Bill Condon’s direction. But in the context of the film the outcome is so deflating that it seems to be a disservice to the series, not just the movie, overall.

Had the Twilight series not become best-selling novels, the films may have ended up on Syfy or been released direct-to-DVD. But because of its large fan base we have five thankless movies that seem to reinforce negative stereotypes about today’s youth. Don’t give me the argument that I have a stilted impression of the Twilight series as a whole. I’ve watched each film as an objective viewer, trying to keep my mind open to this change in vampire mythology and regression of womanhood. But, alas, I guess I just like my women strong-willed and lucid and vampires less sparkly.

Director: Bill Condon
Writer: Melissa Rosenberg, based on the novel ‘Breaking Dawn’ by Stephenie Meyer
Notable Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Peter Facinelli, Ashley Greene, Billy Burke, Mackenzie Foy, Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning, Jackson Rathbone, Lee Pace

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