Nov 20 2012
It’s over. It’s over at last.
After years filled with five films, hundreds of millions of dollars and more screaming females than I can count, the Twilight saga has finally come to a close with its final installment, Breaking Dawn Part II.I have dutifully attended and reviewed each of the films, usually with a girl, though at least on one awkward occasion, without one. And now it’s all lead to this. How does the Twilight saga end? With lip-biting and abs, as always.
Fortunately, as Twilight has gone on, particularly in the last two films, each a half of the final book, the central love triangle has taken a backseat after being dominant for three films. It was just painful watching Bella and Edward swoon over each other as the film crapped all over werewolf boy Jacob, pretending he ever had a shot at the plain princess.
The love story is where these films have been bad. And I do mean really bad. The horrible dialogue from the book masked any actual talent the actors in question might have (or in Stewart’s case, amplified her lack therof). The insanity peaked in the second film when Bella started to actually try and almost kill herself so she could hallucinate a vision of her ex-boyfriend Edward. That’s a good message to send to the little girls out there.
Fun fashion tip: Becoming a vampire gives your hair more volume.
But in these last two films, the plot has mostly moved past the teenage melodrama, and has attempted to assemble an actual story, aided by the skilled eye of director Bill Condon. He has an ability to make the films look great, if nothing else. It was one of the reasons I didn’t half mind Breaking Dawn Part I.
In that film, we saw Bella and Edward married, and her get super pregnant, super fast, and give birth a super baby with unknown magic powers. The ordeal killed her, but she was saved by being turned into a vampire, something she’s been begging for in the last three films. FOREVER, is a common theme when Bella and Edward are staring into each other’s eyes this time around.
The weirder aspect of the baby development is from the crazy mind of Stephanie Meyer in what appears to be a way to wrap up her already strange love triangle. When the child, Renesmee, is born, Jacob “imprints” on her. It’s a werewolf thing that means they’re bonded for life. At first, it just means he has to be around her at all times to keep her safe, but eventually, everyone knows it’s going to turn into something more than that. When she turns 18. If you know what I mean. Yeesh.
“And when you turn 18 in five months, this is how you use birth control.”
The child is the central focus of the film, and is one of the most unsettling creatures I’ve ever seen on film. In an effort to make the perfect “beautiful” baby as it’s so described in the book, they actually had to CGI a face onto it. I guess they couldn’t get a regular kid to be as cute as they wanted or smile on command, but the results is really creepy and it’s like they cast the talking e-Trade baby.
As the kid grows older, they still insist on using CGI for her face, this time to resemble the flesh-and-blood actress they eventually use when she turns seven or eight. I guess there’s something to be said for consistency, but there’s also something to be said for creepy CGI toddler heads, and they would have been better off casting human actresses for all three stages in the kid’s life.
The central conflict this time around is no longer whether Bella can resist Jacob’s abs, rather it’s the plans of the menacing Volturi. They’re the Italian vampire ruling class lead by creepmaster general Aro (Michael Sheen), who get word of this superpowered, fast-growing child, and believe the Cullens must be destroyed for creating such an abomination.
Here’s where the film takes a strange turn, into X-Men. Really. Battle lines are drawn, and the Cullens must assemble a vampire super team from all over the world to join them in battle alongside their reluctant werewolf allies. But it’s not just your typical blood suckers. Though we’ve seen vampires with gifts in the series before, mind-reading, future-seeing and such, there’s now a whole new level of powers that’s downright superheroic. There’s telekinesis, mind-controlled smoke, hallucination projection, electrical zapping and one guy is introduced as literally having the ability to control all the elements. He’s Aang, the Last Airbender, as he swirls around fire, air, water and dirt with ease. What the hell movie is this again?
“Oh you can read minds Aro? WELL WE HAVE CAPTAIN PLANET!”
All of this leads to one final showdown that’s without question the most gratifying part of any of the films. It’s an all-out brawl between vampires, werewolves and superhero vampires that hilariously pushes the bounds of violence in a PG-13 movie. The only way to kill a vampire in this universe is apparently to rip its arms and head off, and set it on fire, which happens no less than a dozen times onscreen during the fight to the bloodthirsty cheers of teenage girls.
There’s an interesting turn at the end of the conflict that might be the first time I have to give Stephanie Meyer credit for good story telling. However, the end result is in turn something of an anti-climax, both in the revelation of the fate of the characters, and in what way the super-child actually influences the universe. In the end, everything is sort of back to square one.
It’s hard to judge these movies based on a regular, rational scale of rating. They’re beloved by their fans, and therefore succeed in what they’re trying to accomplish. As time has gone on, increasingly talented directors have tried to make the most of a fundamentally ridiculous script. If you’re seeing a fifth Twilight movie at this point, Breaking Dawn II will probably give you the satisfying finale you came for. The rest of us will have a good time laughing.
3 out of 5 stars
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