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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

I wanted to say something nice about this, I really did...

By this point, you probably know what you think about the whole Twilight phenomenon. And chances are you fall on one of three extremes. You either think a) Twilight is the best thing evah! b) Twilight is the the worst thing evah! or, after emerging from the cave you've been hiding out in for the past decade, c) What the hell is Twilight? There really doesn't seem to be much room for a considered middle ground on the matter.

And yet, here I am, doing my best to maintain at least the illusion of level-headedness. To be honest though, this final installment has me holding on for dear life as waves of sheer, unbridled hatred threaten to engulf me. I've never even remotely liked any of the Twilight films, but I never really thought they deserved the foaming-at-the-mouth vitriol with which they seem to be received by most "serious" film fans. Sure, they're kind of rubbish, but they clearly have enough going for them that they do work, and work well, for certain audiences. Besides, they're at least usually quite nicely shot and are put together with enough efficiency that they're never that much of a chore to sit through.

This, however, all changed with Breaking Dawn: Part 2. Not that this final installment is objectively all that much worse than its predecessors or that it's genuinely that terrible, it's just that it's about as big a failure a conclusion as it could possibly hope to be. It's the sort of inept ending that not only doesn't work as a satisfying conclusion, but is one that will leave you wondering what on earth the whole bloody enterprise was about in the first place.

Presumably the appeal of these films has never really been the sparkly, vegetarian vampires but was always all about the sexually frustrated romance between broody vamp boy, Edward, and broodier human girl, Bella. It's a story of unconsummated love as our two star-crossed almost-lovers can't get it on for fear of his losing his shit while caught in the act, so to speak, and turning his figurative ravaging of her into something a whole lot more literal. It's the stuff of pretty classic melodramatic romance that may not necessarily be my cup of tea - I didn't even like it when Joss Whedon did something very similar with the whole Buffy/ Angel thing - but it clearly is of great appeal to millions of "Twihards". And honestly, I may tease, but I don't really begrudge them that.

The biggest problem with Breaking Dawn: Part 2 (and, in retrospect, Part 1 as well) is that it totally screws the pooch on this fundamental aspect of the series. Yeah, the acting is wooden, the plot silly, the vampires mostly pathetic, the characterization bland and the dialogue laugh-out-loud terrible, but that's really par for the course at this point. What is completely unacceptable though is that this final installment not only casts aside the heart of the series, but it does it with such an apathetic shrug that it completely undoes all the "good work" that came before.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the whole point of the entire not-so-bloody series that Bella and Edward couldn't have sex without Edward turning her into a vampire first, but he refused to do that because of the effect it would have on her? Well, first off, they did have sex in part 1 while she was still a human so so much for at least half the equation. Better yet though, now that Bella has finally been turned into a vampire as the only way to save her life after giving birth to the couple's supernaturally enhanced sprog, she is tragically transformed into... the exact same mopey indie chick, but now with enough awesome superpowers to leave Superman feeling hard done by.

What the huh?

She has a bit of a blood lust, which she controls better than most right off the bat, but otherwise? They make such a big deal of turning humans, but in the end the only thing that becoming a vampire does to a person is make them faster, stronger, healthier and cooler. With a sparkly skin problem. Why the hell didn't Edward just turn Bella when the two first fell in love and save us all a whole lot of misery? Heck, why even hide from humans when most people would presumably thank them for turning them into these awesome superhumans anyway? It's. Just. So. Stupid!

With the actual point of the series disposed of then, what the film (and book?) does instead is offer up a more traditional vamp plot about how the Volturi, the big bosses of the vampire folk, go after the Cullens when they learn about the existence of Renesmee. Not just because of her stupid name, you understand, but because they mistakenly believe that she was sired by Edward or Bella and, as such, is a grave threat to humans and vampires alike. None of it makes a lick of sense and the way it all resolves itself is face-palmingly daft, but nothing compares to the fact that it is a conclusion that has next to bugger all to do with the rest of the series. I ask again: What's the point?

All this said though, I'm still willing to give the film four stars. Partly because it's basically watchable, partly because Michael Sheen brings much needed completely over the top vamping to this otherwise bloodless series, but mostly because it has the greatest AWFUL line of dialogue in the history of cinema. An enraged Bella smacks Jacob halfway across the forest, screaming : "How dare you! You nicknamed my daughter after the Loch Ness Monster!"


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