Mark Reviews Movies

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part Two


1 ½ Stars (out of 4)

Director: Bill Condon

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone, Kellan Lutz, Nikki Reed, Billy Burke, Mackenzie Foy, Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for sequences of violence including disturbing images, some sensuality and partial nudity)

Running Time: 1:55

Release Date: 11/16/12

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Review by Mark Dujsik | November 15, 2012

My suspicion that the penultimate entry in this franchise gave us the actual end of this story was correct.  The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part Two has nothing to do but spin its wheels for an extended and ultimately uneventful conclusion. The central question of this "saga" (Will the heroine become a vampire?) having been answered in the final seconds of the previous movie ("Yes," her eerie red eyes, opening after long pause, scream), there simply is no longer any tension left in a series that had very little in the first place.

This finale, the second half of the final book in Stephanie Meyer's series, is overloaded with characters of both the good and bad kind who are barely introduced to us by the time the big anticlimax of a climactic battle arrives. Characters die in bloodless beheadings, violent bodily distortions, and slow-motion falls, and we have no idea who they are (When the werewolves start to go, it's especially difficult—which character has what shade of fur again?), what significance their acts of heroism or sacrifice have in the immediate or bigger picture, or why Meyer and the movie series' regular screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg are so keen to abandon the implications and consequences of their heroine gaining her deepest desires for a long buildup to a final battle that in the end—thanks to an incredibly cheap reveal—means absolutely nothing.

The movie begins a few days after the last one ended with Bella (Kristen Stewart) awakening to the first real day of her new life as a vampire. Her husband Edward (Robert Pattinson) teaches her the ropes of living as the undead. She can run like the wind, leap great distances vertically and horizontally, and notice the smallest details through her heightened senses, including a mountain climber far, far away as she stalks a deer for her first meal. Above all, she thirsts for blood, and this becomes a potential problem when that rock climber accidentally cuts his arm.

The series has rarely had a sense of humor about itself (The third installment, which seemed to accept and laugh at the complete absurdity of not only its mythology but also its cheesy romantic melodrama, is still the best of the movies), so the opening act, which actually has a few intentional laughs within it (and a few unintentional ones, mostly resulting from the reliance on ineffective green-screen effects), is like a breath of fresh air. It may be a jarring and complete departure in tone from the deadly seriousness of the last movie, but that's not necessarily a complaint.

Bella's first hunting trip turns into a warped display of the food chain (Let's just say the mountain climber and the deer are fine by the end of it). The way the loyal-as-a-puppy-dog werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner) decides to show Bella's chronically unaware father (Billy Burke) that there are supernatural forces at work in the world—namely by stripping naked before transforming into a wolf—is simply solid, awkward comedy. It's also a hoot listening to Jacob try to explain to his former crush why his "imprinting" on her baby daughter isn't as bad as she thinks it is (It actually is that bad and probably worse, if one gives it more than a fleeting thought).

Bella and Edward's daughter, named Renesmee (represented at first by a disturbing digital approximation of a baby and later played by Mackenzie Foy), is aging rapidly. Her parents are convinced this means she will not be long for this life, and this will especially be true if the Volturi (Remember them?), the law-enforcing coven of vampires led by Aro (a gleefully over-the-top Michael Sheen, whose high-pitched chortle in one scene shatters the illusion of urgency), mistake her for a vampire child. The practice of turning children into vampires is illegal and punishable by death for all involved.

Needless to say, that misunderstanding occurs. The Volturi begin their very slow move toward confronting Edward and his family (Even the immediate rise to the skirmish drags, with Aro stalling for no apparent reason, even though it's made clear he has every intention to try to kill Edward's family), as they traverse the globe looking for witnesses who will testify that Renesmee is not an illegal immortal child. Nothing of any importance happens for a long stretch here, and the family home is soon overrun with about 20 characters who serve no purpose except to expand the numbers for the inevitable fight with the Volturi.

That battle is more brutal than anything that has come before it in the series; it's also exceedingly hollow. The stakes are absent, and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part Two goes at least one step too far with a deus ex machina that practically makes the entire movie unnecessary.

Copyright © 2012 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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