REVIEW: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 [2012]

Score: 6/10 | ★ ★ ½

Rating: PG-13 | Runtime: 115 minutes | Release Date: November 16th, 2012 (USA)
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Director(s): Bill Condon
Writer(s): Melissa Rosenberg / Stephenie Meyer (novel Breaking Dawn

“Should I start calling you Dad?”

**contains spoilers as far as its major difference from the book**

I’m going to applaud The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 for two reasons. One, it signals what we can hope and pray will be the last adventure inside Stephenie Meyer‘s angst-ridden, melodramatic world of supernaturals—until the planned off-shoots/reboots being bandied about, of course. Two, it rather unsurprisingly proves to be the best of the series after three bloated, over-wrought filler films ruined the tiny bit of promise the original Twilight provided. But even this compliment is backhanded considering the film is itself only half of the franchise’s final book, showing once again how much unnecessary drivel was contained within before arriving at its climactic battle that thankfully possesses some added visual bite where a mere whimper existed in the source material.

Starting right where Part 1 left off—at least I think so after waiting a full year to finish its stretched too thin set-up—we find Bella (Kristen Stewart) changed into the vampire she yearned to become since setting eyes on her bloodthirsty, glittery love Edward (Robert Pattinson). Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg unearths some welcome humor from Meyer’s book with a series of tests proving the ‘newborn’s’ stunning maturity when it comes to desiring the warm fluid rushing through the veins of humanity and her almost unparalleled strength. Director Bill Condon continues what he started as far as aesthetic with the last movie and allows Guillermo Del Toro‘s regular cinematographer Guillermo Navarro to capture Bella’s new talents in extreme close-ups and focus pulls to make it all more beautiful than it probably deserves.

It’s hard not to think about how this should have been Twilight‘s only sequel. Make Edward’s bewitching dead eyes win Bella over so hard they get married instead of attend their school dance. Excise the horribly trite bouts of suicidal depression and the ill-fated love triangle with werewolf/shifter Jacob (Taylor Lautner) that ends up neatly tied in a bow as a misunderstanding dripping in more pedophilic undertones than the vampires already emit considering centuries old men are falling for teenage sweethearts. If you’re going to shatter age barriers and teach adolescents it’s okay to have a baby at eighteen when you’re lucky enough to have a wealthy family make it so you never have to work a day in your life, why not go all the way?

Pop that kid out at prom, have the slighted class princess who totally earned being voted queen get all catty and tell the Volturi Miss Perfect and Mr. Creepy birthed an illegal abomination, and let the battle begin. Maggie Grace‘s Irina is nothing more than a blip in the saga, but thank God she was there to make sure we’d receive more action than the high-pitched whines of giant computer-generated dogs being flung into tree trunks by undead zombies basking in the light of their mythology’s one universal nemesis. Her vindictive tantrum puts a smile on the faces of Aro (Michael Sheen) and Jane (Dakota Fanning)—two of the tale’s best characters—and finally alleviates my impatience as they descend upon the overly emotional brats I’ve wanted dead since frame one.

Not to be outdone, though, the good guys need to raise an army to keep appearances up against the dark Pope and his obedient flock. Why not inundate us with a menagerie of new-fangled, superpowered animals at the eleventh hour? I feel sorry for Jacob and his Native American brethren only being able to turn into dogs when vampires get to be X-Men. We’ve got Benjamin (Rami Malek) doing his best Last Airbender impression; Kate (Casey LaBow) as Electro; Zafrina (Judith Shekoni) might actually be the Haitian from “Heroes” sister; and Garrett (Lee Pace) shows how a snarky attitude doesn’t need flashy bells and whistles to succeed. Add the wolves and subtract Alistair (Joe Anderson)—a character that literally does nothing—and little Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy) has nothing to fear.

Collecting this crew of Pokemon does become a bit of a slog in the middle of the film since we really have no attachment to them at all, but the pay off is worth it. In a war that decides to leave wooden stakes at home in lieu of ripping each other’s heads off, it put a smile on my face to see some bloody carnage added to the lovey dovey tripe previously pushed. Meyer should have unleashed the beasts much sooner—the lack of a formidable foe after Twilight‘s James (Cam Gigandet) a glaring mistake of the series—because the highly-sexualized teenage love gets no one excited besides insane fangirls living vicariously through Bella and super creepy adults whose names should probably be on a very special list.

You need the good versus evil war and over-the-top villainy to forgive the hamfisted romance; you need purpose in the opposing factions and the archaic rules keeping them apart. Rosenberg goes dark and it’s fantastic to watch people you’d think were untouchable get decapitated and burned. Twilight needs this extreme tragedy worth mourning to allow these immortals their stunning ability to get out of a jam. And while a gimmick may be necessary for this chaotic turn of events to remain true to the book, I give Rosenberg and Condon all the credit for using it. Because if the end played out like I hear Meyer wrote it, there would be no debating this saga as anything but the worst cinematic franchise in history. The filmmakers infused just enough life to at least keep it interesting.

[1] ROBERT PATTINSON and KRISTEN STEWART star in THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN-PART 2 Photo: Andrew Cooper, SMPSP © 2011 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.
[2] (L-R) TAYLOR LAUTNER, MACKENZIE FOY and KRISTEN STEWART star in THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN-PART 2 Photo: Andrew Cooper, SMPSP © 2011 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.
[3] (L-R) CHRISTOPHER HEYERDAHL, MICHAEL SHEEN and JAMIE CAMPBELL BOWER star in THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN-PART 2 Photo: Andrew Cooper, SMPSP © 2011 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.

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