Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 review

Review Mark Harrison 16 Nov 2012 - 05:52

Does the final Twilight film, Breaking Dawn Part 2, send the franchise out on a high?

This review contains spoilers for the first four Twilight films, but does not spoil Breaking Dawn Part 2.

Let's have a think about the last four years. The Twilight saga started out in 2008, as an indie curiosity directed by Catherine Hardwicke. Having become a box-office conquering juggernaut whose entries consistently rank amongst the most successful movies of the year, it all culminates in this much touted 'epic conclusion that will live forever'.

Breaking Dawn Part 1 went most of the way through Stephenie Meyer's huge novel, ending with Bella (Kristen Stewart) opening red eyes as a new vampire, as well as having recently become a new mum to Edward's (Robert Pattinson) risibly named hybrid spawn, Renesmee. Even better, lovelorn Jacob (Taylor Lautner) 'imprinted' upon Renesmee, basically meaning that a werewolf fell in love with a baby. Let it never be said that 'nothing happens' in these movies.

Part 2 picks up with Bella enjoying familial bliss with Edward, Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy) and the rest of the Cullens. As the character has never been known for tactfulness towards her less supernatural loved ones, she must now set about explaining the sudden appearance of a rapidly-aging daughter to her long-suffering dad, (Billy Burke) while also coming to terms with the power she wields as a newborn vampire.

Elsewhere, Irina, (Maggie Grace) the heartbroken relative who appeared briefly to whinge at Edward and Bella's wedding, wrongly assumes that Renesmee is a child who has been turned into a vampire. The creation of an immortal child is prohibited by the Volturi, the vampire royalty led by Aro, (Michael Sheen) who now have an excuse to destroy the Cullens and their allies, threatening the happily-ever-after for which Bella has been striving, all this time.

Having now watched all of the films, I can see the good points as well as the obviously bad, and sometimes I can appreciate both. For instance, the Cronenbergian body horror of the birth scene that closed the previous film was irresistibly bonkers, but the insipid anti-abortion prelude that made up most of Breaking Dawn Part 1 was downright awful. With the finish line in sight, this one is by far the most urgently forward-moving of all the films.

Even the most ardent anti-Twilight crusader has to admit that this one has itself a harder job than the metal-on-metal drudgery of Michael Bay's Transformers, or the cookie-cutter cynicism of Taken 2. And while few could deny that the final adaptation was cleft in twain to get a bigger box office return out of the saga's last gasp, few other franchise films give themselves as much to deal with as this, in sustaining the aftermath of the ridiculous events that came immediately before.

The critics who are usually game to bash these movies have attacked this finale with the same fervour as faculty members on the last day of school. Quite right too, because director Bill Condon isn't content to just whack a DVD on, or play hangman with the audience. The conceit upon which the saga was launched, of a vampire maintaining a relationship with a human, who then becomes part of a love triangle with a werewolf, no longer exists- we've finally moved past that.

In a series about abstinence and deferred satisfaction, there's palpable relief up on screen that the time to have some fun has finally arrived. You don't have to snark to notice that Kristen Stewart has never been more animated than when she's been re-animated, and her performance here is easily the best of the series. She wrestles the focus back, sidelining Pattinson and Lautner, and has a blast- it's almost as if she slummed it in the last four films, just to get to this character development.

Special notice must go to Michael Sheen, who was the sole pleasure in the execrable New Moon, and once again chews the scenery to bits, and revels in getting away with it. His Aro is still far more campy than sinister. That might undercut the main threat, to some extent, but he's also far more enjoyable than previous adversaries. It also helps that you might fall on his side when it comes to young Renesmee.

For much of the film, she's a computer-generated character, with the face of 12-year-old Foy digitally projected onto actresses ranging between infancy and around 10. It looks utterly unholy, like her face is levitating somewhere off of where her head is supposed to be, and it's particularly unnerving when she's a baby. It's not too hard to credit the idea that she's an abomination, but then special effects have never been this series' strong suit.

It wouldn't be a Twilight film without some padding in the plot too, and this one reaches the two-hour mark by introducing no less than 18 new vampire characters, from all around the world. There's a bit of time establishing their names and special abilities, as the Cullens try to gather witnesses to stave off the Volturi, but these newbies are only as distinctive as the Cullens themselves, ie. not very.

The most memorable of the minor characters are two Eastern European vampires who may or may not be Dracula and Renfield, even if they come across a little more like Ensign Chekov and Boris Johnson. It's a Twilight film, so it's funny like that. Hell, if the Academy Awards offered an Oscar for best/funniest reaction shots to decapitation, then Condon would be a lock, and I mean that in the best way possible.

In a series of five films by four directors, which still looks and feels uniform, the bar is set low for iconic and memorable moments, but Breaking Dawn Part 2 rises above it, just as fast as fan expectations will allow. In one ingenious deviation from the book, Condon invites everyone in for a surprisingly violent third act, entertaining and infuriating the audience in equal measure.

But on balance, the film is immeasurably improved by the lack of scenes featuring Bella and Edward alone, saying so little by doing even less. It's not all action, but there's a marked difference in momentum between its predecessor, and every other film in the series. Does that mean it was worth splitting Breaking Dawn into two films, a la Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows?

Having now seen Part Two, I'm surprised to say that it does. This one serves as both a palate cleanser, following the really objectionable and tedious shit that happens in the earlier parts of the book, and a sequel that is satisfying, both as a B-movie and as a finale. For many detractors, it will be too little, too late, but for us unconverted souls - the non-fans who've still soldiered through the Twilight saga to its bittersweet end - it's likely to be the favourite of the series.

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The franchise that never seems to end... like the Carry On films with cheekbones and fangs... and even worse acting performances.

Was an amazing film, as the whole saga has been.. People who bash the saga obviously don't appreciate the work of art that these films are......

At least most of the Carry on Films are entertaining and have, on the whole, the odd likeable character.

Sorry, I had to vote this up even if I nearly died choking on my drink whilst reading! :-)

I don't need to see this film to know it deserved less than 3 out of 5.

The whole Saga deserved 1 out of 5. And that 1 is only for the fact it has managed to last so long.

A work of art?

If you are over the age of 10 with that comment, god help us all...

"I don't need to see this film to know it deserved less than 3 out of 5."
Oh wow, wish I'd thought of that. Here was me thinking I should just shut up if I haven't seen something, but nope, we're actually ALL entitled to our opinions...

Work of art??? Please please please go and see some films made for love of the story not love of the money...if I have ever seen a series of books raped for money then this is it!!!

Work of art. You must be joking right. They are films for teenage girls. Its not art.

Amen to that brother...

Yes, we are all entitled to our opinions. That's why I gave mine.

If you call this film franchise 'a work of art', then you deserve to get some negative feedback.

That poster, it looks more like an ad for a Top Shop fun run than an "epic finale".

Right on. It was PANTS. All of it. I met the daughter of a friend just recently, who reads the books avidly, she is 15 years old. I talked to her about it, trying to be serious and not start laughing. I wanted to get to the bottom of why the books / films are popular. You know what? After about 35 minutes of talking to her about it the only thing that I could make any sense of was - She loves Jacob the werewolf in the films, because "he is fit"
She does not like Jason Pattison, because she thinks Bella should be with the Werewolf! And she does not read any other books much, because they are "boring" because its not Twighlight....
So there you go...consumer survey done! The sad thing is it just confirmed everything I have always thought about these books and films. The Wife and I watched the first film and thought it was odd, different, but okish. I got halfway through the second one and wanted to kill myself. After that I stopped watching, but my wife has all the films and watches them still.....Shrug...its a film for girls and love sick teens etc etc. But thats ok as its a free world.

Heheheh does anyone else think that the picture at the top of the post looks like a still from an advert for a Saturday Morning Cartoon? It looks like something from Battle of the Planets or FlashGordon...THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF BELLA AND THE WEIRPIRES!

lmao I thought that too..hence post below.

God lets hope it does end after this. Give it six months though if it does well and they will reboot it and start all over again for another generation of love sick teensters. I am just amazed they have not started to re start Harry Potter yet.

Wow.....I see you're changing the definition of "art" here. I guess "art" now means a steaming pile of horse crap. Yep you're right, these films are works of art.

Heheheh....Ohhhh Behave! Matron! Hohaw ha Haw ha! SID!!!! Carry on Cleo, Carry on Screaming...Carry on Abroad...lmao. We were drunk as lords last weekend and watched Carry on Abroad...I am not kidding you, we almost wet ourselves laughing at it. Its just ridiculous, but so funny and dated, but still hilarious. "Who put the bloody glass in!!!!!!" LMAO....Sid James rules!

Each to there own, but I thought it was brilliant, best one out of them all. I'm sorry to see it end.

Why are DenOfGeek still covering Twilight releases?! The terrible poster sums up this "saga", disappointing and painful to look at.

... did I just read "art"? It's ok if you like dumb films with no substance but please don't call it art to defend your position, or at least have the sense to explain what exactly is "art" about this?

Dr Who has better CGI than these films, and TOWIE has better actors.

They should remake Twilight with the Made in Chelsea set
Milly as Bella; Hugo as Edward and Spencer as the wolf

Oi, less of the teenage girls bashing! Some of us can see this crap for what it is.

Teenage girls aren't morons or lesser human beings. OK, some of them are morons but that's no reason to use them as insults. It's not politically correct, for one thing.

Hear, hear. We're not all braindead Twihards (although there are an awful lot of them)

I'm sorry, I had to.

Let's not. I thought Bella couldn't get dumber - if they make that, I fear that I will be proved wrong.

I am constantly surprised how bad the effects work is in these films, considering they make a bucketload of cash...

Ruined vampires as bad guys forever. Now onto zombies!

"Art" doesn't mean "good stuff". Of course Twilight is art. Maybe you think it's bad art,but it's art. I've just seen Breaking Dawn, and I think it's just good silly fun. There's a strong streak of misogyny in a lot of the comments made here and elsewhere. Twilight is very cleverly done for its target audience, which is mostly teenage girls. Criticism from people who are actually or psychologically teenage boys ignores the fact that most of the stuff they like and praise is pretty suspect from more than one perspective. Star Trek and Star Wars for example are militarist, virtually to the point of fascism. Despite it having been demonstrated that Jedi abilities are hereditary, Jedis are celibate, no doubt because contact with the weaker sex saps your courage and morale. Do I worry about this when I watch the films? No, they've got a big sign on them saying "FANTASY", as have the Twilight movies. If boys can have their macho fantasies, girls have a right to their girly ones.

I still can't fathom why Mark Kermode would give these films praise. Or High School Musical.

I loved it..don't care what people was fun and all looked was excellent..and I'm a teenage my I am actually 48 !!

I'll just say that none of the trailers for any of these films have made me want to see them, this one in particular seemed to involve a climactic battle in a....snowy field....?

I get the feeling I've never been the target audience for these films, so I've left them alone, like so many other people who aren't interested should. It's become the done thing to enjoy tearing someone else's fandom to pieces, which is a rather negative and destructive way of going about the legitimate work of criticism.

Anyway, it's good to see a review that at least tries to be objective and see it from the view of the average target audience member as well as critiquing the film for where it stands in the grand cinematic scheme of things.

I've read too much crackpot vitriol from threatened fanboys elsewhere, saying that there's no point reviewing these films because "everyone" either loves or hates them. The absolutes that reign in Internet comment land are utterly ridiculous. I thought three of the previous four films were rubbish, and yet it's still far more interesting to engage any of the Twilight films on their own level and make your own mind up, for better or worse, than to blindly spew hatred. Thanks for the comment! Cheered me up quite a bit :)

Glad I could cheer you up.! :) I'm totally on the same page as you.

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