First off, let me thank the Associated Students Program Board at the University of California Riverside for hosting a free screening last night. Amazing work!
Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 2.
Let me give full disclosure. I’ve read all the Twilight books and seen every movie. I wouldn’t call myself a fan though, but I like to be educated before making a decision. The books weren’t horrible and certainly gave some depth to the characters that we never see on-screen. Sadly, that doesn’t change with this final installment. But I’ll get to that.
There are three types of people who are going to read this. The extreme Twilight fan that is liking just looking for images to post on their “IheartEdward” Pinterest board or whatever. Then there’s the hater that just wants to see me skewer this latest film. And then there is everyone else, who isn’t opposed to seeing Twilight but maybe just hasn’t found interest in it before. They’re legitimately interested in if the movie is worth seeing or not. This review is for you. I’m not going to destroy this film and I’m not going to praise everything it does. This is for you, the undecided.
After four films, Bella and Edward finally tied the knot in the last film. And then she got pregnant. And at the climax of Breaking Dawn, Part One, she gave birth to a half-vampire baby that literally tore its way out of her. Kind of disturbing. Well, the baby (Renesmee) is now growing up incredibly quick and has the odd ability to communicate via telepathy. Well, the enforcers of vampire rules in Italy have heard about this child and are coming to destroy it (and everyone responsible). It’s time for war.
About half of this movie is awesome. That is the second half. When the Volturi (the Italian vampire mafia) show up to confront the Cullen family, things get awesome. After four films, we finally get to see vampires and werewolves go wild in what turns out to be an exciting and pretty epic climax. We’re introduced to new vampires that can do some extraordinary things such as control elements or project images into people’s minds, which makes the battlefield always changing. And the movie doesn’t pull any punches with the violence this time around, though it helps that vampires don’t bleed. Heads are lopped off, bodies are torn in half… It’s pretty intense.
The movie also does some things that aren’t included in the last book, but I think they help make this a better movie. In the book, there is no fight. Spoiler? I don’t think so. They basically get to the verge of fighting and then it never happens. Well, we definitely get to see it play out here. And there are some twists and changes to the book that will shock you (and had my whole theater screaming at the screen).
I also loved the work done by Michael Sheen (the Underworld films). It’s a very exaggerated version of the classic vampire but I think it works because it adds some character to a relatively low-energy cast. Most of them interpret “Act like a vampire” to mean “Act like you’re emotionless.” His energy is sometimes laughable but at least it injects the film with some excitement during the earlier portions.
What doesn’t work?
I said that about half the movie was good. The first half was not that. It was bad. There were unnecessary sex scenes which just pandered to the female audience and overdramatic scenes to try to evoke some sort of emotion but they fell flat.
And then let’s talk about the child, Renesmee. They had a young girl play her for most of the movie, but as a baby they decided to create her using visual effects. They took the face of the actress and basically made her a baby. From the very first moment, the audience was laughing. The movie revolves around this child and any sort of emotional resonance was dissolved when the baby showed up on screen. It was a horrible decision that negated all the good work that this film could have done for the franchise. Any baby would have done the job.
My biggest complaint though is that the movie is so jam-packed with new characters that they get zero backstory. When they split Breaking Dawn into two parts, this is what the second part should have focused on. Who are these new vampires? What are they doing here? Most of them barely get an introduction, nonetheless any sort of substantial story. Since I read the book, I was able to see some attempts at backstory but it probably didn’t mean anything to the average viewer. They should have cut all the fluffy Bella/Edward stuff that we spent four movies on already. They’re in love, we get it.
I have a hard time recommending this film unless you’ve already invested four movies into the franchise. It doesn’t work on its own but really depends on you being already connected to these characters. As an addition to the franchise, it’s a good entry but probably not the best (I would argue Eclipse is the best of the bunch). Pattinson and Stewart are walking zombies but luckily Sheen’s Aro and a few other newcomers add some excitement to the mix. The action scenes are incredible but the movie suffers from some horrible choices with CGI work. It’s hit and miss, though some of you will enjoy just for the closure of the franchise.