Directed By: Bill Condon
Written By: Melissa Rosenberg (screenplay), Stephenie Meyer (novel)
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
This year marks the end of the polarizing Twilight Saga with the release of Breaking Dawn-Part 2. Few franchises have had such a momentous impact on popular culture like Twilight. It has garnered a feverish and dedicated fan base that has absorbed these stories with unmitigated passion, while at the same time it created a contingent of moviegoers who have long waited for this national nightmare to finally end. There is no denying that this franchise is critic proof. Every installment has been universally panned, but bad reviews have had no effect on its take at the box office. No one would ever confuse me with a Twihard, but I have suffered through each and every installment. There was hope that this finale could allow the franchise to go out on a high not, but in the end this film suffers from the same mistakes that have plagued this saga from the beginning. Those who have enjoyed the franchise from the start will get more of what they love, and the detractors will have more ammunition to legitimatize their distain.
From the early onset it is evident that this film suffers from a lack of story. They took a page from Harry Potter and split the final installment into two parts. Many argue that it was a calculated move inspired solely by the desire to make more money, and not one based on a hope of making a better movie. Looking at the final product it is hard to argue against that cynical attitude. We pick up right after the last installment. Bella is now a fully fledged vampire after the birth of her daughter Renesmee. Not only does Bella have to deal with the fact she is now a bloodsucker she also has to contend with her best friend Jacob, who has imprinted on her newly born daughter. Having not read the books it didn’t take the movie long to lose me. This ‘wolf thing’ as they call it was odd, uncomfortable, and more importantly felt like a comp out to settle the feud between the rival groups of Team Edward and Team Jacob. This way both leading men have someone special in their lives. Even if one is a baby. Luckily it wasn’t a huge part of the story just something they lingered on for far too long. Much of this film felt like filler as they attempted to stretch it out to a proper run time. There was a serve lagging with the pacing as if it was unwilling to move itself forward. We are given long stretches of the Cullens attempting to cultivate an allied force to stand with them against the Volturi. The birth of Renesmee made the Cullens a target of the Volturi as they saw the child as a threat to their existences. With this impending doom the Cullens gathered their closest friends and allies in a hope of avoiding this looming destruction.
This franchise has always had a multitude of characters besides the big three that never seemed all that important or vital to the story. Bringing in even more characters in such a rushed fashion just over convoluted the story further. They had the time to expand on these characters, but instead that time was spent on a montages and moments of nothing but waiting. They did allow Bella to take a more active role with this film. Up to this point her character was a feather in the wind that was consistently pushed around, and never willing to take any type of action. Now that her daughter has become a target she is on the forefront for the first time. This was a welcome change that took forever to occur.
With this allied force we did get an interesting cavalcade of vampires with intriguing powers. Why vampires also have special powers I’m not sure, but it did lead to an eclectic assortment of thinly written but visually appealing characters. The visuals would have been more effective if they would use some of those billions of dollars they have made to create better special effects. Twilight has always had subpar special effects and this does nothing to improve on that. In fact it may have one of the worst uses of CGI in recent memory. They decided to have Renesmee be completely CGI for much of the film. It was severely offputting to see this CGI baby surrounded by all these real life people. It would be like throwing Shrek into the middle of Braveheart and acting like everything is normal. Not helping the matter was how creepily she was rendered. It looked like a cross between Vigo Von Homburg from Ghostbusters 2 and the dancing baby from the 90’s. This creation was more suited for a horror film than a fantasy romance.
Even with lackluster special effects the final climatic battle sequence was well staged and decently thrilling. I was shocked by how violent it became and the bold steps it was taking with its characters. Watching these characters fall would have been more impactful if proper work was done before this final climax. As a saga ends its failures and successes really show their effect. Seeing characters parish and arcs come full circle means nothing if you don’t care about the characters. If you are a person who has been infested in this story since the beginning I am sure the final moments will provide you an emotional resentence that others won’t experience. For those who have felt indifferent towards these movies you will at least get some fun action to make the journey a little more tolerable. What history holds for this franchise I’m not sure. Will it be like that boy band or pop star that is easily forgotten once someone better comes along to takes its place, or will it maintain a level of reverence with its core audience for years to come? Time can only answer that question, but at least for now we can all agree that it is over.