The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-Part 2 (***)


Before many of you even clicked on the site today or perused this review, you already had formed your opinion about this film sight unseen. And full disclosure up front, having seen all the previous films (being I think the only person on this staff to have even seen a previous film) and having read the books, you might have some opinion about my objectivity, my sexuality, or my sanity. As the final film in this series, you would think The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 would be crushed under the weight of what has been one of the biggest pop culture phenomena of our time. Which is why it’s surprising even to me as a quasi-fan, that this film ends up actually shedding its troubles in more ways than one (this should have been a R rated film) and delivering on all the silly fun it kept bottled in during the previous movies. Operating as both a great piece of fan service and an actual honest to God film, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is more than a fitting end to the saga that has dominated multiplexes since 2008.

Now that I have lost half of the site’s readership in one paragraph (I’m assuming the rest of you are either Twilight fans, generally interested in film criticism or gluttons for punishment), I can move on to further analysis of this movie. After an impressive opening credits sequence, the flick starts right where the last one left off, with our heroine Bella (Kristen Stewart) surviving the most horrific childbirth in the history of the world by becoming a vampire. After some early tests of her new skills, her self control (she finds out Jake (Taylor Lautner) has imprinted on her daughter, which would be tough for any mom to swallow) and some sexy times with Edward (the first instance of me questioning the PG-13 rating), Bella is acquitting to vampire life quite nicely with her love Edward (Robert Pattinson) and her half mortal/immortal daughter Renesmee. But this peace is not meant to last, as after a misunderstanding with another vampire from a familiar coven brings the all-powerful Volturi clan to Forks to enact some judgement. From there the film builds the tension and delivers one of the best, most violent, batshit crazy, confusing, altogether refreshing battle scenes you will ever see and a satisfying end to this crazy franchise.

The Twilight films have never been about subtly and all of the problems usually associated with the series are on full display here. However, due to the narrative shifting away from being about strictly Edward and Bella getting together, this movie was able to embrace the problems and craft a story that is compelling and worthy of being a film. The hallmark of enjoyable movies are that even if they require suspension of disbelief, the story is presented in a way that operates as if they are truthful.  Breaking Dawn-Part 2 does this very well, making the most foolish of situations and dialog seem organic. Even the imprinting stuff which I LOATHED in the books, was dealt with in such a nonchalant way the same amount of suspension of disbelief as Bruce Wayne surviving a nuclear blast at the end of The Dark Knight Rises, that scientists would take off their helmets in an alien atmosphere regardless of atmospheric readings in Prometheus, Gina Carano “acting” in Haywire, the GOP thinking they would win the election in a landslide by listening to conservative media…wait that has nothing to do with this movie. Back to the review.

What this film benefits from is having someone like Bill Condon at the helm, who is unafraid to indulge in a little bit of fan service but doesn’t have a problem deviating from the source material. The big battle sequence at the end that I keep talking about is not something that is explicitly in the book, but by committing it to screen, the creators have given the general audience some unexpected action and allow the fans of the material their dream ending without sacrificing the integrity of the source material. I’m still confused as to how one is able to show two vampires ripping someone’s head off by prying open his mouth and still maintain a PG-13 rating, but whatever I don’t care, it was great.

The acting in this film is nothing to write home about, but I will say that all of the actors really have fun just chewing into the scenery. I mean when you have to shout lines like “You named my daughter after the Loch Ness monster!” it is best to treat the proceedings with kind of a wink, no? Even when they are being completely serious, Condon allows the actors a ton of room to poke fun at themselves. Michael Sheen’s cackle and facial expressions at the end of this film might be worth the price of admission alone and many other noticeable actors pop up in fun supporting roles like Lee Pace, Rami Malek and Wendell Pierce.

All in all, Twilight never was for everyone and this last film certainly won’t be. However going in with an open mind, you’ll find this is the most enjoyable and playful film in the franchise and not a terrible time at the movies.