The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2
This is it. What it’s all been leading up to. At least that’s what the tagline on the movie poster says. Yes folks, twilight has fallen on "Twilight." And with The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 finally reaching mutliplexes, the saga of a girl, a vampire, and their dog -- oops, I mean werewolf -- will finally end.
Teenage girls everywhere will be crying in their Team Jacob snuggies as their Bella Swan eyeliner drips down their face. For them, it’s that much of an event.
For the rest of us, it’s the close on the final chapter of a franchise that, love it or hate it, began the YA novel craze and spawned the likes of "The Hunger Games" (and, sadly and inevitably, "Fifty Shades of Grey"; for without awkward clumsy Bella, where would her oversexed alter ego be?) So is the finale worth it? Will we get a satisfying conclusion to one of the weirdest book/film series ever made?
In true saga fashion, the action picks up exactly where the last film left off -- here, the bellissima Bella Swan’s (Kristen Stewart) having given birth to vampire hybrid after it damn near kills her during labor. Lucky hubby Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) was around to rip open her uterus with his chompers to save the kid. Yes, I just wrote that.
Since this is a story about the undead you always knew what would happen to Bella. So as "Breaking Dawn: Pt. 1" ends, Bella opens her bloody red irises as a true-blood vampire. And since this is a romance, there has to be a third, here Jacob, the werewolf with the pecs of steel and washboard abs, now smitten with baby Renesmee (Rihanna was already taken, I guess).
In fact, he’s "imprinted" on her something that basically means he will love and protect her until the end of time -- you know, like a cell phone contract.
Luckily, Renesmee is destined to grow rapidly and, like everyone else here, will stop aging when she reaches good modeling years. And if you think a werewolf lusting after an infant is creepy, well, you’re right.
For Bella, being undead raises all sorts of exciting possibilities, none of which occur to Jacob, who had tried in vain to persuade her that being a vampire was not cool.
Since Jacob is played by super-gorgeous hunk Taylor Lautner, you know he won’t be written out of the script. Eventually, they all settle down to "The New Normal" if Ann Rice had been the show runner and Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley the executive producers.
She also has to tell her dad what happened, but he’s a trooper and proves once again, that a dad will love his daughter no matter whom she marries. A bigger problem is a group (led by a deliciously scene-chewing Michael Sheen) dead set on destroying her spawn because they don’t realize that Renesmee is half-vampire and half-human. So while her vampire half wastes entire villages, her human half will join Habitat for Humanity and rebuild them.
All of this harks back to the hoariest conventions of the classic film horror movies of the ’30s and at times seems about as dated. (Where’s Igor?) Although this slows the film down considerably, it’s still fun the different vamps use their special powers, even if they can be so goofy looking that you might be in a constant state of giggles. My personal favorite was Tyra Banks’ Amazon.
In true saga fashion, there must be a war. This one brings together the vampires and werewolves, who, alas, do not sing a parody version of "The Farmer and the Rancher Should Be Friends" from "Oklahoma!" But we know that this is the finale because the snowy landscape is grim and cold and, well, foreboding.
So, is "Breaking Dawn Pt. 2" is a bowl of emotional mush only fit for consumption by girls who can only see their burgeoning-but-still-frightening sexual lives on screen when sublimated into the supernatural? Maybe, but it’s also a wholly entertaining film that breathes much-needed life into a franchise that has come dangerously close to self-parody.
Stories like this need a little distance, irony if you will, a wink-wink at times or they risk taking themselves way too seriously. What we didn’t need to see was more of Bella and Edward scowling their love at each other and bemoaning their hopeless situation.
Stewart has become the subject of much Internet bitching for her twitchy portrayal of Bella, who always looked like she was on the brink of nausea even when she wasn’t expecting. But -- surprise! -- Stewart seems liberated by her vampire persona. Allowing her to bring out her inner bad-ass was just what was needed to give her character something to, well, sink her teeth into.
Her transition into the ways of vampire-hood were fun, just like the rest of "Part 2." After four dour chapters, "Part 2" is funny, entertaining, and has some awesome action scenes, even with the cheesy CGI. Seeing the entirely CGI baby Renesmee reminds us yet again of how wise Roman Polanski was not to let us see the title infant terrible of "Rosemary’s Baby."
I mean, you’ve made it this far, why care about some technical hoo-ha? You care about the Cullens, the Blacks, and The Swans.
And care you do. When the finale hits, it starts to veer away from the novel, and the lives of characters we’ve grown to like are at stake. Actually caring about what happens to these beautiful creatures might come as a surprise, but you’ll become so fully invested in that final apocalyptic battle that even those who have been scoffing at the ridiculousness of the franchise will be taking it at least as seriously anything J.R. Tolkein gave us.
Aside from some cheap visual effects, tech credits are good with beautiful lensing by Guillermo Navarro and some top-notch editing by Virgina Katz. Music has always been an important ingredient in the "Twilight" films, and Alexandra Patsavas manages to use the score to comment and further the action without distracting us from it. Carter Burwell’s score is effective and appropriately haunting at times.
Full credit, however, must go to director Bill Condon. The man who successfully translated "Dreamgirls" from stage to screen elevated a tween franchise book series into something worthy. Condon’s achievement is all the more remarkable considering how plodding and bizarre Stephanie Meyer’s books are. He also deserves special props for adding a pretty dazzling battle that had the audience cheering.
If you never joined the "Twilight" bandwagon, there is no need to start now. But if you’ve been following this un-merry band through the ’00s, you’ll be satisfied. Boyfriends dragged by their girlfriends (or boyfriends) will find enough to enjoy between the moony romantic elements. This is a fitting end to a behemoth franchise that has finally come to a "bloody good" end.