Title: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2
Genre(s): Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
Director(s): Bill Condon
Release Year: 2012
Rotten Tomatoes: 48%
The tale of two star-crossed lovers has finally reached its conclusion. The unlikely romance of a human and a vampire has been at the center of pop culture since 2008 when the first Twilight movie was thrown into the wild, for teenage girls to attach themselves to like a bee to honey. What has been baffling for these past 5 years has been how these films have had the longevity they’ve had. This is arguably one of the worst movie series to get 5 iterations not because they don’t have interesting concepts (there are some things that could have been great, such as the Volturi, but are undermined by awful ideas and an awful script) but because they are awfully written and it is only when the movies poke fun at themselves that there are great moments. I should preface by saying I watched all of the films preceding this final iteration only recently for the first time, and out of all of them, I enjoyed the first one the most. Eclipse was perhaps the most daring of them all, and the one that had the promise of being something great (after all, it was directed by David Slade, the guy who directed Hard Candy and 30 Days of Night), but it was ultimately the most self-aware film which supplied the most entertainment. Twilight was great because it noted its ridiculous premise and horrendous concepts, and utilizing the camera to point out how awful everything is, the film rises to a B-movie level that none of the other films even attempted to reach.
And now we come back to Breaking Dawn Part 2, the first film to instill hope that this series could go somewhere different. Every final film in a series has the tough prospect of trying to tie up loose ends and appease the fans at the same time, and I think that’s why Breaking Dawn Part 2 doesn’t get to be the film it almost was. Picking up right after the events of the first Breaking Dawn, Bella (Kristen Stewart) has just given birth to Renesmee (played by a creepy CG baby, and it takes her growing up to a teenager before they drop the CG), and to avoid dying from giving birth, Edward (Robert Pattinson) turns Bella into a vampire, much to Jacob’s (Taylor Lautner) dismay. But don’t worry, Jacob has imprinted himself on Renesmee and even nicknamed her “Nessie”, so that’s what Bella gets for not having sex with him. Not only this but Jacob just can’t leave Bella alone, now telling her Dad (Billy Burke) of her plan to just disappear and also revealing that Jacob, himself, is a werewolf. Smart move. But he’s forgotten about that (or has decided it’s not worth attempting to try and arrest a wolf) and manages to get Bella to finally divulge elements of her life to him. We’ve waited all series for this, right? Nope, but a focus on the father-daughter relationship rather than Romeo and Juliet parallels would have been something worth exploring.
Shakespeare references that are cheesy and obvious are the least of this film’s problems though. Instead, the worst thing of all, a climax that feels just as shoehorned in as it actually is. The Volturi are after Renesmee believing her to be an “immortal child”, and through the mind of Michael Sheen’s character, we get to watch the best part of the entire Twilight series. At the most opportune time, when those in the audience who aren’t interested are on the hunt for some shred of entertainment, and those who are enamored by the plot have no idea where it’s going to go, the rug is torn from under everyone and the B-movie elements of this movie flourish. The movie opens strong with over-the-top close-ups of random things in Bella’s peripheries, returning to the self-aware camera that made the first film so great. But everything falls into a lull of boring trite that never manages to be overcome until the final act of the film, with a climax that was put into the film because there was no climax left in the books. They do not hide that fact, and the film still ends on a happy note, but the decapitations and gore will make anyone in the audience feel something. Fans of the series will likely hate the brutality (I even watched a ‘Twihard’ in the audience gasping and being genuinely frightened until her sigh of relief at the end of the fight) and those who aren’t fans will rejoice when it appears, but regardless it’s a bold direction that the series attempted to do somewhat with Eclipse.
I’m really harping on this fight sequence, but it’s because the films really have not done anything worthwhile at all, and perhaps one of the best moments in recent movie history could have been the fight scene that occurs. But it plays as a missed opportunity, and it’s clear how much the film was trying to have a climax to fit the final film of the series. Instead we get the happy ending that we all knew was coming, complete with atrocious dialogue and painful glances from our two leads, and a wrap-up montage of the entire cast to waste 5 minutes of runtime. Bella turning into a vampire should lead to some interesting moral questions, but instead, we just get treated to sex scene after sex scene and Kristen Stewart trying to deliver teenage quips about Edward’s performance in the bedroom. The problem is the film mistakes humor as a humanistic quality, when not everyone has to be able to make light of a situation to feel authentic. Not only that, but the painful way in which a joke is delivered makes the fact that this film isn’t intended to be taken as a B-movie all the more harrowing.
Finally, the Twilight series can be put to rest, but we’re all well aware that the onslaught of poorly-developed romance/horror films will not end. With studios seeing the box office appeal, everyone wants a slice of the tween demographic. With troubling dialogue, poorly constructed themes, a shoehorned climax, lack of continuity in character motivations, and a generally boring film, there’s not much good to say about Breaking Dawn Part 2. It has a fight sequence that gets pushed away for a happy ending, and somewhat revisits the camera work that made the first film feel like a “so bad it’s good” film, but none of those are able to make it into the film the first one is, let alone a genuinely good film. It has the grisliness of Eclipse, and the self-awareness of Twilight, but it has more of the boredom of New Moon and terrible melodrama of Breaking Dawn Part 1 that holds the film back from being even remotely close to good. It could have been an at least memorable end to the series, but it never amounts to anything in the end, except a story that we all knew would land on the happy note it does.
Overall: Not Recommended