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FILM REVIEW: Twilight - Breaking Dawn, Part 2

Categories: Movies

Four-and-a-half years after the world first glimpsed Stephenie Meyer's romance-ready vampires onscreen, the sun is finally setting (Or is it rising?) on The Twilight Saga. Assuming no one in his or her right mind would go watch the final film in the series without some familiarity, let's jump right in.

When we last left her, heroine Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) was giving birth to a human-vampire hybrid/demon child that was seemingly sucking away her life-force and leaving her a brittle husk. The omen-baby arrived in the world with a bone-crunching crack, followed by Bella awakening, her eyes a blood-thirsty scarlet.

Pattinson and StewartRobert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart nuzzle. They could be brainstorming new scents for a Twilight cologne, Eau de Cullen (Andrew Cooper/Summit Entertainment)

The new film picks up with the new-and-improved Bella. Now, as one of the undead, she sees the world in vampire vision: able to zoom in on a single dewdrop or watch dust motes dance in the light. She revels in her new powers and even her husband Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) seems to enjoy egging her on.

Frankly, Bella may be undead, but her character finally has a pulse. The most odious part of the series has been its theme of self-sacrifice. Bella is a bright girl who left school, her friends and her father and risked a dangerous pregnancy all for her eternal love, Edward.

But as a "newborn" (a human recently bitten), Bella is feisty and almost feral as she zips around the forest like Speedy Gonzales and slurps mountain lions for protein. Fangs or not, it's an improvement.

This time around, it's the storyline that could use some pumping up. The movie's soapy middle devolves into what you might call Lifestyles of the Pale and Eternal, as Bella settles in to enjoy life as a newlywed and new mother to her instant daughter, Renesmee.

The rapidly aging infant could be Benjamin Button's sister (Was that CGI or animatronics? Either way, the toddler looks as convincing as the dancing baby from Ally McBeal). Meanwhile, since Edward and Bella don't need to eat or sleep, they've apparently got a lot of time to catch up on all those years of repressed passion.

Foy and StewartHybrid child Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy, seen at left with Kristen Stewart) ages so rapidly, she could be Benjamin Button's sister. (Andrew Cooper/Summit Entertainment)

It would be an eternal paradise of the lovers boinking around the clock, except for those pesky Volturi -- the grumpy clan of Dracula wannabees, who hide underground in Florence dressed like Siouxsie and the Banshees. They don't care for the idea of human-vampire half-breeds. Soon, Alice (the psychic vampire) receives a premonition that causes Bella and her daughter to go into hiding. Well, that's what any rational parent would do. But, I suppose the Volturi might smell them or something.

Instead, the Cullens travel the world gathering a United Nations of vampires to support them. It's like The X-Men, with extra eyeliner, and each new addition has special powers. There are Amazonian vampires who cast illusions. A vampire from India controls the elements. There are even Irish vampires, but they just look sad and wear tweed. They all gather on a field, along with their furry wolf buddies, and await the battle.

Oh right. I can't forget the shirtless wonder, Jacob (Taylor Lautner). Yes, he returns -- and strips down in one scene that could give Magic Mike a run for his money. Jacob's role seems mainly to consist of mooning over his love-to-be Renesmee (He imprinted on her. It's a wolf thing. Don't ask.) and making bad jokes about the red-eyes.

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So, back to that final battle. It's a grey winter's day as the two forces meet on a Vancouver sound stage on an empty plain in Washington state. The Volturi and their army arrive, led by Aro (Michael Sheen). Imagine Count Chocula crossed with Liberace and you've got the picture. Sheen's a fantastic actor who seems to have embraced the "vamp" in vampire for this outing. Aro, naturally, doesn't like the looks of this mixed-species child, so -- channelling Braveheart with some extra black leather thrown in -- the battle begins.

This brings us to the biggest shock of Breaking Dawn. After earlier instalments with enough chastity and prudishness to make Little House on the Prairie seem more like Girls Gone Wild, The Twilight Saga ends with a rumble that's got more beheadings than a Conan the Barbarian film fest.

This is film with a conservative view of sex coupled with a baker's dozen of decapitations. Breaking Dawn - Part 2 certainly ends with a bang, trading earlier sparkles for a savage, yet artificial-looking, fight scene that makes Bollywood look like cinéma vérité. This finale should slake the hunger of Twilight fans, but I wait in terror at an inevitable series prequel.

RATING: 2.5 out of 5

VampiresDakota Fanning, left, and Cameron Bright as members of the Volturi, who while away eternity with a rousing game of freeze-dance. (Andrew Cooper/Summit Entertainment)

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