Edward and Bella bid us farewell in a satisfactory manner. I surprise myself as I write those words. Of all the films based on Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight book saga, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 is not just passable, but the most entertaining. To the best of my ability, I’ll try to clarify the previous sentence before the elite secret guild of Dominican movie buffs come to cancel my membership.
The Twilight Saga in 300 Words or Less
A quick summary for those living under a rock since 2008: Twilight (or, y’know, dusk) is the story of a maladjusted girl named Bella (Kristen Stewart) who lives in a rural U.S. town where “cloudy” is the default weather forecast, which allows her to experience the teen version of a love triangle with a vampire and a werewolf. The families of both nocturnal beings hate each other to death à la the Montagues and the Capulets. The girl leans more towards the vampire, and even longs to be one, but the sensitive bloodsucker Edward (Robert Pattinson) does not support condemning her to his “curse” of being a cold blood killer, living in secret from the rest of humanity and posing as Swarovski jewelry in the sun.
Bella and Edward provoke a truce between the two species of mythical creatures and save each other’s lives multiple times, mostly in situations orchestrated by the Volturi, the vampire world authority. The couple ignores the pleas of six-pack-abs hound Jacob (Taylor Lautner), decide to marry and eventually turn Bella into a being with no pulse but hopefully some personality. All seems well, except that Bella becomes pregnant during the honeymoon, while still a human, and her child is ravaging her from within. Edward wants an abortion, Bella wants the baby, childbirth kills her, Edward makes her a vampire in the nick of time and Jacob “imprints” on the newborn—something akin to attaching to it mentally for life (please direct your pedophilia protests towards the book author).
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 in a Nutshell
Which finally brings us to Breaking Dawn, Part 2, where Bella assumes her role of agile predator, insatiable wife and happy mother to Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy), a human-vampire hybrid with accelerated growth. Irina (Maggie Grace), a spiteful distant cousin of Edward, confuses the little one with an “immortal child”, a kid turned vampire of whose voracity and lack of discretion makes it dangerous, which means creating one is a crime punishable by death. Irina tells the Volturi the Cullen-Edward clan have sinned and Aro, Volturi leader (Michael Sheen), sees the scandal as an opportunity to obtain Alice (Ashley Greene), Edward’s “sister” with the gift of seeing the future. Edward, Bella and Jacob must protect Renesmee and the Cullens must seek allies around the world to prove their innocence before the outbreak of war.
Playing Devil’s Advocate
Yes, dear readers with testosterone, I know that nothing I’ve presented so far motivates you. We are not the audience for hackneyed romances, even if these partly recycle the plot to Underworld. I also agree with many of you that the proposed vampire vision by Meyer and the filmmakers holds a candle to other interpretations such as those from Stoker, Murnau, Rice, Browning, Coppola, Neil Jordan, Steve Niles, and dare I say it, Tarantino and Robert Rodríguez.
Having said that, it’s my duty toward you to represent my experience on each film premiere with honesty and good judgement. I was the only male in a group of women who watched Breaking Dawn, Part 2 and although I wasn’t screaming or salivating, I must confess I had a good time.
The team comprised by series screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg (Step Up), director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) and cinematographer Guillermo Navarro (Pan’s Labyrinth) crafted a product greater than the sum of its parts, encouraging everyone involved to put their best foot forward. They along with their collaborators (excluding the guys in charge of picking the songs for the soundtrack) manage to be faithful to Meyer’s fans and to the saga that led to her success; all the while creating a product that surpasses all its previous chapters and to some extent works without them. The climax, in all its violent splendor, is alone worth the price of admission.
Acting, Thank You!
After four installments of stumbling triviality, Kristen Stewart finally makes Bella Swan-Cullen an interesting character. Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen is stil every woman’s one-sided dream, but at least reflects depth and sweetness in his new role as a father. The famous real-life chemistry between both actors, often hidden from even the hardest Twihards, is in full view during their scenes together. Taylor Lautner manages to bring some dignity to his role in what is a completely ridiculous situation. Billy Burke, as Charlie, does what he’s always done: give courage and levity to his thankless role of a dad with a daughter he must learn to trust, even when it seems she keeps making the worst decisions and reluctantly surviving the consequences.
Michael Sheen makes his Aro a seductive, funny and dangerous opponent, but Dakota Fanning is unfortunately downplayed as Jane, the most ruthless of the Volturi (at least her mere presence does the job). Young Foy does what is required of her Renesmee, but by the very nature and the visual trickery required by that role, the character resembles something that fell off the Polar Express and is one of the least convincing details of the film. Anna Kendrick, as the human Jessica, isn’t needed in the story (her role ended in Breaking Dawn, Part 1), but I missed her either way.
With the possible exception of Jackson Rathbone’s Jasper (who was already highlighted in Eclipse), each member of the Cullen clan gets its little chance to shine and nobody does it better than Ashley Greene as the clairvoyant Alice. Like Death on Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comic, Alice is the most interesting and well defined character of their respective tales. Whom in the first Twilight could have been misinterpreted as a delusional and irritating girl here proves to be a strong, determined person, full of love, who everyday bears the burden of knowing what the future brings (both good and bad) and yet decides either way to stay optimistic and bring happiness to her loved ones. Of all the supporting cast in this series, Greene is the one I most want to see again in other projects.
The rest of the unmentioned cast also leaves its mark, including young veterans Joe Anderson, Casey LaBow, Lee Pace and MyAnna Buring as the group of new allies. My favorites are Guri Weinberg and Noel Fisher as Vladimir and Stefan, a possibly intimate couple of Gypsy vampires who join up only to give the Volturi a beating. It’s encouraging to think that there are gay couples in a world of vampires where it’s not all about the “physical”.
In the end, Breaking Dawn, Part 2 is a film that delivers what it promises, but not as the audience expects. There’s no way it’ll convince those who are predisposed to hating the female-aimed series, but crestfallen boyfriends, husbands and loyal friends who accompany their better halves to see it are assured that they’ll fare better than they think. Twilight proponents get a final chapter gift-wrapped with a flourish. Critics will have to settle with the fact that it’s finally all over. I wish both groups all the best, for surely we will meet again when 50 Shades of Grey premieres. If the guys over at the guild allow it.
Movie title: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2
Movie description: The final entry in the 'Twilight' saga is perfect for its target audience while managing to entertain the men dragged out to accompany them.
Date published: 2012-11-16
Director(s): Bill Condon
Actor(s): Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene, Michael Sheen, Billy Burke, Jackson Rathbone, Dakota Fanning, Mackenzie Foy, Maggie Grace, Joe Anderson, Casey LaBow, Lee Pace, MyAnna Buring, Guri Weinberg, Noel Fisher
Genre: Action, Romance, Fantasy