Whether you love it or hate it, one cannot deny The Twilight Saga’s place in the cultural zeitgeist. Both an enormously lucrative franchise and a universally renowned critical disaster, it’s all set to come to a close with Breaking Dawn – Part 2, and I, for one, cannot wait to put the final nail in the coffin.
Picking up from where Part 1 finished off, Kristen Stewart’s Bella Swan awakens after a traumatic childbirth as a newly-dead woman. Not only is she now a mother, she has made the eternal transition from human to vampire. She goes through Dracula boot camp: learning how to hunt for dinner, fight, and partake in superhuman sex with her bitey husband Edward (Pattinson). Struggling with the typical teething issues of motherhood to the young Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy), Bella’s former love interest, werewolf Jacob (Lautner), doggedly lingers around, still forlorn over her decision to dump him two films back.
When gossip spreads that the newlyweds have given birth to an immortal child, a series of contrived misunderstandings occur. It all culminates when the vampire overlords, known as the Volturi, head to the family’s forest hideaway for a sacrificial battle of good vs evil. Assembling a handful of vampire covens from across the world to help prove Renesmee’s human innocence, the Cullens must either rectify the hearsay, or be prepared to fight to the death to save their ‘immortal’ daughter’s life.
It’s quite amazing to see how drastically the franchise has changed in such a short period. Looking back to 2008, the first Twilight movie was nothing more than a saccharine, emo-love tale in a fantastical framework, carried gracefully by the fresh-faced cast members, Pattinson and Stewart. By the time we reach the threat of an imminent vampire apocalypse four years later in Breaking Dawn – Part 2, the characters may have matured over time, but the acting is still just as amateur. Stewart has rapidly transformed from a prudish nymph to an unbelievable Joan of Arc battleaxe, whilst Pattinson’s mildly enigmatic Edward has become so narratively translucent that he’s left lingering in the background. Worst of all, the muscle-flexing Lautner is more broody, insolent and annoying than ever. Amongst these clichéd characterisations, Michael Sheen’s turn as Aro, the leader of the Voturi, is knowingly ridiculous, camp and sinister. He may be in the saga just for the money, but at least he’s enjoying himself. Unfortunately, I wasn’t.
Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is being marketed as the brawny, fatalistic crescendo to the saga. Unfortunately, director Bill Condon plays it safe, with the raunchy moments curtailed, and the final showdown comprised of excessive cutaway shots and cheap special effects of dismembered heads and limbs being flung at the screen (thankfully, without 3D).
As is standard with the saga, Breaking Dawn – Part 2’s maladroit script and lacklustre direction is the biggest problem. Like a fatuous teenage soap opera, each scene ends in excruciatingly melodramatic fashion: with a character saying something poignant, striking a pose, looking mournfully into the distance and waiting for the evocative score to fill the dead silence. These corny moments would be bearable if this was the first outing of the series, but after four films one would have thought that the production crew would have delivered some sort of mini-masterpiece.
With a disloyal ‘gotcha!’ big finish, everything about Breaking Dawn – Part 2 feels incidental, incoherent and incomplete. It may be the end for Edward, Jacob and Bella, but the introduction of some new blood characters leaves the Twilight door open for potential spin-offs. Now there’s a scary thought.
Breaking Dawn – Part 2
Dir: Bill Condon; US fantasy, 2012, 110 mins; Kristin Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Dakota Fanning, Ashley Greene, Nikki Reed, Michael Sheen, Peter Facinelli
Premiered November 15; Playing Nationwide