Synopsis: After the birth of Renesmee, the Cullens gather other vampire clans in order to protect the child from a false allegation that puts the family in front of the Volturi.
Stars: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Peter Facinelli, Ashley Greene, Kellan Lutz, Jackson Rathbone, Elizabeth Reaser, Nikki Reed, Billy Burke,
Director: Bill Condon
Running Length: 115 minutes
TMMM Score: (5/10)
Review: I remember seeing the teaser trailer for the first Twilight film in early 2008 and the audience absolutely losing their minds with excitement. The strangest thing was that as involved with movies as I was, I had no idea what this movie was or could have anticipated the mania the franchise would create over the next five years. So I did my homework: I read the books, I saw the movies, and I’m still more than a little crazed at how popular this series is. I’ll admit I’m not close to the target demographic but there’s something about the overall message of submission that I can’t get behind.
Okay…maybe I’m reading a bit too much into the saga of Bella Swan (Stewart) who falls hopelessly (and helplessly) in love with Edward Cullen (Pattinson) who just happens to be a vampire that glitters when seen in the light of day. Over the course of five movies, Bella sulked and moped around in the throngs of love while rebuffing the advances of local-boy-turned-werewolf Jacob (Lautner) and avoiding a clan of vampires from Italy.
The best movie in the series is, for my money, the third entry (Eclipse) as it was less about our leads making goo-goo eyes at each other and more about an action centered plot. It’s the only Twilight film I saw twice in the theaters…partly because I liked it and partly because I had tickets that couldn’t be refunded. Eclipse led into Breaking Dawn – Part 1 and I’m still of the mind that the fourth and final novel in Stephenie Meyer’s didn’t need to be broken up into two parts. The only reason it was seems to be written in mega dollar signs – at least the final book of the Harry Potter series was split into two satisfying movies. Breaking Dawn was split into two films that have their moments but fail to fully satisfy the appetite.
For those not familiar with the Twilight saga, beware that spoilers will commence in the next paragraph.
When Breaking Dawn – Part 1 ended, Bella had just given birth to a daughter and then promptly died…but not quite because Edward gave her the bite of her life and her blood red eyes opened right before the credits rolled. After an admittedly agreeable credit sequence, Part 2 picks up with vampire Bella learning her strength and taking time away from mothering her rapidly growing daughter to share more gauzy love scenes with her new husband. The daughter, Renesmee (awful name), is strangely CGI-ed in many scenes…placing the morphed face of the youngster that will eventually play her on several younger iterations. At its best, the effect is interesting. At its worst, the technology makes the child look like a pinhead wearing a dreadful wig.
There’s some nonsense concerning a vengeful vampiress tattling on Bella’s offspring to the Italian vampires (headed with an absurd glee by Sheen) which sets into motion a much talked about battle that takes up the rest of the film (and a large chunk of the novel). Here’s what I don’t get: In all of these films we see vampires travel at great speed to different countries yet in this film it takes the Italian vampires WEEKS to finally make their appearance. Maybe travel was cheaper if they went at off-peak times but still…it’s a wrinkle the film never ironed out.
Stewart, whose hair in the movie is more voluminous that her acting, is her usual glowering self though not quite the sullen sulkstress she’s been previously. Maybe it’s a newfound motherly glow that makes her more interesting this time around but she does tie up her character with some decency. I still get the impression that Stewart couldn’t wait to get done with these films but she’s not nearly as removed as she was in the second film.
Pattinson is another actor that has gained popularity solely based on his performance here and I’m afraid he’ll struggle with his career now that the Cullen story is over. Lacking depth for anything more than looking good, he speaks his lines as if he’s unsure if any of it makes sense…like MadLibs. Lautner is still the worst actor of the bunch and after several failed films outside of the Twilight franchise he should consider another line of work.
The rest of the Twilight cast members are glorified soap opera actors with no one rising above the material at their feet. It’s not good material to begin with, true, but I’d have enjoyed seeing someone do something with the hokey dialogue. Only Fanning as a nasty vampire shows signs of life in an otherwise DOA stable of actors.
The finale of the novel was a flat pancake of a let-down (and fans thought so too) so it was nice to see that screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg and director Condon found a nifty way to have their cake and eat it too. I won’t spoil it for those that haven’t had the chance to see the movie yet, but I’ll say that I found myself on the tail end of the film feeling quite impressed with the tenacity of the filmmakers. A closing “curtain-call” type credit sequence was a nice capper for fans of the series.
As far as good filmmaking goes, this ain’t it…however don’t be too shocked if Breaking Dawn – Part 2 keeps you involved for its trim two hours. You may get a full eye workout from the numerous times you’ll roll them but look…you are either in the camp of voracious fans that have gone nutso for all things Twilight or you aren’t. That’s not to say if you aren’t a fan you can’t enjoy these films for what they are…because on some level they get the job done.