Vampires face off against vampires while CGI launches an attack on your eyeballs in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2, the final chapter in the Twilight saga.
Or at least, let’s hope.
If you’ve never seen/read any Twilightiness before, this movie is most definitely not the place to dive into the world. It opens on a newly vampired Bella (Kristen Stewart) blinking her red-irised but perfectly-made-up eyes and beholding her vampire husband Edward (Robert Pattinson). Their half-vampire, half-terrifying-CGI baby (born at the end of the last movie via violent C-section) is being cared for by Edward’s vampire family, the Cullens. Also hanging around is Jacob (Taylor Lautner), a werewolf, who has an eternal connection to Bella’s infant — yes, a 2gether4ever type thing, though not in a To Catch a Predator way. He’s more of an Unky Werewolf, at least until the child reaches adulthood.
And that just covers the, like, first 10 minutes. The movie isn’t going to wait around for you to catch up. Get on board the sparkle train; it is headed for Overwrought Junction, with or without you.
After learning the basics of being a vampire — how to hunt, how to stop hunting if you don’t want to eat people — Bella settles into a gingerbread house-like cottage on the property of her vampire in-laws. She is blissfully happy playing house with Edward and their child, who is aging at a very fast clip, which is lucky for her since it means she won’t have to take her Frankensteined name — Renesmee (eventually played by Mackenzie Foy) — to middle school. Bella even manages to hang out with her father, Charlie Swan (Billy Burke), who decides not to ask too many questions about his daughter’s recent paleface makeover and the sudden appearance of a child who looks a lot like her.
Of course all this sunniness can’t last. The Volturi, those robe-wearing vampire autocrats from Italy, get wind of Renesmee’s existence and think she is a forbidden vampire child. As clairvoyant vampire Alice (Ashley Greene) sees, the Volturi are headed to Forks, Wash., to destroy the Cullens and the abomination that they think Renesemee is. The only chance to save everybody’s lives is to convince the Volturi that Renesemee is mortal. To do that, the Cullens travel the world in search of vampires who will come and, er, something. “Witness” is tossed around a lot. Though, if the Volturi are as blood-thirsty as discussed, I’m not sure why having a bunch of people witness your grisly death is all that helpful. I think the idea is that the Volturi will be less reflexively kill-y with a lot of extra vampires hanging around, although again, the description of them here and what we saw of them in previous movies doesn’t suggest that they would be bothered by having an audience. In any event, the gathering of witnesses takes up a good chunk of the middle part of the movie and introduces us to a bunch of special-ability-having X-Men-like vampires, none of whom is particularly important, as it turns out, to the plot.
And, really, that’s fine because the fewer times we’re forced to watch some special effects nonsense involving a vampire who can control electricity or water or whatever, the better. I’ve never been as unsettled at a Twilight movie — really, at any vampire movie — as I was in the opening 15 to 20 minutes of this one where we’re forced to watch baby Renesemee age. It is super creepy, that CGI baby face pasted on whatever was standing in for the infant (one of those health-class dolls? a real baby? a green sack of flour replaced in post-production by a baby stock-photo composite?). It was a jarringly bad part of the last movie, and it remains a weird choice. I’ve already agreed to watch a movie about vampires and werewolves and Taylor Lautner’s abs; I think I can suspend disbelief about whatever child actor choices they would have made. A real baby, even if it didn’t exactly match the features of the kid who eventually plays Renesemee, would have been so much less distracting.
And while the vampire make-up here seems to have settled down some — sure, plenty of them have mime-like pancake makeup, but some of them just seem to have a light dusting of pale mineral highlights — the werewolf images have become less believable. They feel very much like computer illustrations pasted in a scene instead of part of it.
So let’s talk about why one might come to this movie, aside from just the completist’s desire to see it all through: the culmination of the Edward-Bella relationship. After movie after movie of “you’re human, I’ll hurt you” mopey restraint, the couple is finally on equal footing. After getting some sex out of the way early on (obviously, the couple had sex when Bella was still a human, hence little Renfaire, but vampire on vampire sex is allegedly so much hotter — not that you’d know from this movie), we actually don’t get a lot of their relationship. As it turns out, with the Jacob love triangle done and threat of Edward’s eating Bella removed, they just aren’t that exciting of a couple. So instead, may we offer you a little violence?
And here I begin to tread near the edge of spoilers. Suffice to say, some rather fun violence is in the offing — we see those super-powered-vamps showing off their talents in case the “witnessing” plan with the Volturi doesn’t work. Twilight movie’s have featured fight scenes before, but the one planned here is actually quite fun, and surprisingly Bella actually has a central role (we are blessedly done with all the “Bella’s such a fumblepants” stuff). For a minute, it almost seems like the movie’s makers decided to pump some bad-assery into this rather weak final entry. But then, well, no.
If you’ve come this far, if you’ve giggled through scenes of Michael Sheen hamming it up as the Volturi head or of the wonderfully wry Billy Burke (who is 96 percent of why I’ve been watching Revolution), you might as well take the final step and see The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2. But beware, these vampires aren’t sucking blood, they’re spreading cheese. C+
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence including disturbing images, some sensuality and partial nudity. Directed by Bill Condon with a screenplay by Melissa Rosenburg (from the novel by Stephenie Meyer), The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2 is an hour and 55 minutes long and is distributed by Summit Entertainment.