November 16, 2012

THE SHOWBUZZDAILY REVIEW: The Twilight Saga – Breaking Dawn Part 2


THE TWILIGHT SAGA:  BREAKING DAWN PART 2:  Watch It At Home – Fangless Eternal Love, For the Last Time

Even for those of us decidedly not devotees of the TWILIGHT saga, there are some things to be said for BREAKING DAWN PART 2, beyond the obvious one that it marks the last time we’ll have to entertain the company of Bella, Edward and Jacob (and their various teams).  About half an hour before it ends, director Bill Condon and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg (this is his second time behind the camera, while Rosenberg has written all the scripts), launch an impressive, satisfying battle sequence in which our good vampires and werewolves, augmented for the occasion with some international undead, battle the evil Volturi.  Following that, in the singular instance of true cleverness in the entire series, a neat twist allows the story to have its blood and drink it too.

In addition, the main actors seem more relaxed and generally in a better mood than the series has ever allowed.  Kristen Stewart, as the now-vampiric Bella (you may recall that she was turned to the blood-drinking side at the finale of Breaking Dawn Part 1), is movie star glamorous in a way she’s never been before, to the extent that it will be interesting to see where her career takes her if she stays away from the angular, neurotic quality that’s been her distinctive trait thus far.  After his many movies of dithering and delay, Edward turns out to be delighted to have a vampire mate, and Robert Pattinson seems in good spirits as well, downright robust compared to his usual neurasthenic pose (we know from the tabloids that his fine fettle may not have lasted very long).  Even poor Taylor Lautner, for whom any lengthy piece of dialogue seems a challenge, appears to be enjoying the fact that his Jacob’s war with Edward for Bella’s heart is finally, definitely over, and he can simply be a good-humored sidekick.  Michael Sheen, as Aro, scheming head of the Volturi, appears to be having a marvelous time chewing at all available scenery, especially in a late speech where he could be launching a candidacy for Republican vampire office.  Dakota Fanning has little to do as the Volturi plain-named Jane except to stare, but nobody stares more creepily than Dakota Fanning.

The rest is pretty much the Twilight we’ve gotten used to.  Unlike the final Harry Potter novel, for which even 2 full-length movies required much pruning of the massively detailed plot, Breaking Dawn had no reason to be broken into a 2-parter other than the financial one.  Even though Part 2 effectively runs only about 100 minutes (followed by 15 minutes of the most numerous multiple endings since Return of the King), it feels padded and slow–as always, the series can’t get enough of Bella and Edward mooning over each other–until the showdown with the Volturi arrives.  The plot, stripped of the romantic intrigue that was its main engine in earlier installments, barely makes any sense:  the Volturi decide that Renesmee (mostly played by Mackenzie Foy), the half-human, half-vampire child of Bella and Edward bloodily born in Part 1, must actually be a child vampire, forbidden under their laws, and thus decide to launch their attack against our heroes–even though the movie makes clear that all one has to do is meet the child to know she isn’t what they think she is.  (There’s some explanation of the Volturi’s “real” motive late in the game, but it hardly matters.)  Although the idea of fighting the Volturi by recruiting a sort of Dirty Dozen of international vampires is a fun one, the casting call must have asked for the most wooden actors in the world, because that’s what the movie ended up with.  Since they also wear silly outfits to reflect their nationalities, like guides at the vampire version of EPCOT, the effect is mostly cartoonish.  That’s also the word to describe many of the shockingly subpar CG effects, including what continue to be the phoniest werewolves this side of a Roger Corman movie.

There are those of us for whom the massive appeal of the Twilight series will always be a mystery.  As a franchise, it’s been much less fun than its vampire counterparts on TV like True Blood and The Vampire Diaries, and not in a league with the Harry Potter or Dark Knight series, the Marvel superhero adventures, or for that matter the first episode of The Hunger Games.  Its multi-billion dollar pull can be pondered and debated, but the important point is that–as far as we know–it’s now over, and not too painfully.  Onward to The Hobbit Part 1!

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."