Film review: The Twilight Saga 5: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (2012), directed by Bill Condon
If you remember where the story left off in Breaking Dawn – Part 1, newly-wed Bella very nearly died giving birth to half-human/half-vampire abomination of a daughter, and in a desperate bid to save her life, Edward (Robert Pattinson) turned her into a vampire with his “vampire venom”. The film ended with Bella’s red vampire eyes opening.
And that’s where Part 2 begins. Bella has woken up, and boy is she pissed off when she finds out her former bestest buddy Jacob (Taylor Lautner) has imprinted on her baby, despite him reassuring her that it’s a werewolf thing and not something he can control.
Soon enough, Bella seems to get over it and has fun showing off her new strength. Daughter Renesmee (the name is a gagworthy portmanteau of Renée, Bella’s mum, and Esme, Sparkles’ “mum”) grows oh so quickly, and when out playing in the snow with mummy Bella and doggy-woggy future-husband, she’s spotted by vampire Irina (Maggie Grace) – who draws the completely wrong conclusions, and therefore runs off to tell Volturi boss Aro (Michael Sheen) all about it, as turning children into vampires is a huge no-no.
And so, the Cullens have to gather all their friends together, including Jacob and his Quileute pack mates, and make a stand against the bad vampire overlords.
Beware the snarky spoilers. Although you should be used to these by now.
Also starring the Cullens: Peter Facinelli as Carlisle, Elizabeth Reaser as Esme, Ashley Greene as Alice, Jackson Rathbone as Jasper, Kellan Lutz as Emmett and Nikki Reed as Rosalie. There’s Chaske Spencer as Sam Uley; Mackenzie Foy as Renesmee; Jamie Campbell Bower, Dakota Fanning and Christopher Heyerdahl as Volturi; with MyAnna Buring, Lee Pace, Judith Shekoni, Rami Malek, Christian Camargo et al, as Cullen-friendly vampires.
One thing that puzzles me is that okay, Charlie Swan (Billy Burke) buys the whole thing about Reneesme being an adopted niece, but he doesn’t seem to think there’s anything odd with her ageing several years in a matter of months? Kudos to him, though, because of all the characters in this series, Charlie is probably the one I like most. Sure, he still can’t cook, but now he has a girlfriend (Alex Rice) who can do that for him, seeing as how Bella has left him by his lonesome. I think Burke gives a great performance too, because he did seem very much like a concerned father, and his meeting with Vampire Bella was both tense and emotional. Well played, sir.
Well played to Kristen Stewart as well, which I never thought I would say. As Vampire Bella, Stewart looks like she has fun, and it’s not just the standard drippiness of Bella – and speaking of Bella, she finally has a purpose. There’s a speck of personality shining through, and she finally seems to have some opinions of her own. Great. We’ve only been suffering through four whole films for her to grow a semblance of a backbone!
One of the funniest scenes in the film is right at the beginning, when Bella explodes over Jacob’s overly familiar ways with Reneesme. The other stand-out scene for laughing is Jacob stripping off in front of Charlie to show that he’s a special boy. It’s priceless.
Gathering a lot of friends to help support the Cullens’ claim that Renesmee isn’t a vampire child, but a living, breathing hybrid, we get a cast that’s too big for its own boots. Most of them are just there in the background and hardly get to utter a word (looking at you, Irish vampires and the Amazonian vampire who isn’t Zafrina). Why are they even there? We don’t get to know them at all to be able to form some sort of connection with them, they’re just there to show us that the Cullens have friends. The one given most screen time, and lines, was probably Tanya (MyAnna Buring).
For me, it was mainly a case of playing “hey, it’s THAT guy!” You might recognise the Piemaker from Pushing Daisies (he’s terribly under-used), the Ice Truck Killer from Dexter, Arthur from Camelot, Bigfoot from Sanctuary, and Shannon from Lost. (The latter being just about as annoying there as she was here.)
Breaking Dawn – Part 2 makes as good use of scenery porn as the previous films (this is the thing I actually really like about these films – gorgeous landscape shots!), and the introduction was spectacular with lots of ice crystals and things, which I like. The plot was pretty well-paced as well, and not as ridiculously sappy as before, and I have to agree with others who have said that this is the best film in the series. It is. We actually enjoyed it – unlike Part 1, where we wanted to gouge our eyes out. Surprised? So were we!
There is one thing where we both thought the film was a big let-down. It’s the great big cop-out toward the end. Everything was fine, and the plot escalated quite well, and then BAM. Lots of shit kicks off, we’re thinking “woohoo, finally!” and we’re sitting there feeling ever so slightly emotionally mauled when certain things happen to certain characters that we, despite our best efforts, have grown somewhat attached to over the course of these five films. And then all of that is completely negated in the biggest anti-climax ever. Think Bobby Ewing coming out of the shower in Dallas. It’s that level of narrative cop-out.
We didn’t expect much, but if they hadn’t used that cop-out, the film would have surprised us, and we’d probably look at each other and say “well, damn! Didn’t see that happening. Fair play to you, Meyer, fair play indeed.” I seem to recall JK Rowling saying that it was important for her that if she killed off a character in the Harry Potter series, they were killed off for good. No sudden “oh wait, it was all a dream”, because in real life, people don’t just magically come back to life. Except in Meyer’s world, apparently they do. Very disappointing. I wanted to exclaim “OMG, you killed Kenny! You bastards!” a couple of times, and it would have made for an interesting dynamic going forward, but alas, Bobby Ewing came out of the shower.
As I have just about managed to get through chapter one of Breaking Dawn the book before losing the will to live, I don’t know if the Bobby Ewing ending was in the book or not. I’m tempted to try and grit my teeth and suffer through the rest of it just to see if it is, but it’s going to be painful. If it’s not in the book, I can see why they put it there, or there would have been absolutely NO climax whatsoever, but then it really just shows what a poor story it actually is.
Not that I ever doubted that. Twilight still sucks balls, but at least this film was miles better than Part 1, and served as a fitting ending to the saga. I’m glad it’s finally over, just like I’m glad most of the tweens who fell in love with Twilight originally are just that – kids – with little or no attention spans. Meaning that what is the BESTEST THING EVER today is already completely forgotten about tomorrow. The buzz around Twilight seems to have died down already, from what I can tell, which means hopefully we can finally bury these films, and the books on which they are based, in a box in a dusty corner of the loft and forget all about them.
3 out of 5 edible climbers.
(Update 2021: I never did manage to get past chapter one of the book. I got to the end of that chapter and went “you know what? I have better things I can do with my time” and that still hasn’t changed.)