The Movie Date is a weekly feature where we discuss movies that may appeal to the YA audience. Andrew is The Reading Date’s resident movie critic and this week he discusses Breaking Dawn Part 2, directed by Bill Condon, based on the book by Stephenie Meyer. We recently watched the newly released DVD.
Disclaimer: As readers of the Movie Date may have noted, I don’t count myself a fan of the Twilight franchise. But I hasten to add that I have all the respect in the world for both the books and the films. I think it’s great to have a body of fantasy literature you can root for, and Stephenie Meyer’s series and the films it spawned has clearly resonated for millions of women and quite a few men. I witnessed the phenomenon firsthand at the very first Twilight Comic-Con panel way back in 2008—so much screaming you’d think the Beatles were playing the Hollywood Bowl. It’s been fun keeping tabs on the series from a distance. In that vein I’ll review the last picture in the series as an outsider, hoping you’ll find it amusing at least. Surely you’ve seen the film on home video already if you didn’t camp out for that midnight show, but I hope you enjoy my newbie take on it.
Please note: There are spoilers aplenty within - proceed with caution!
Before I get into the final film, here are my thoughts on the previous four (I haven’t read any of the books):
Twilight: Charming, perfect film, a superb blend of romance and fantasy, action and comedy that hits all the right notes.
New Moon: Tedious and wooden; poor filmmaking that often seems like a grade-school play. Kind of a mess.
Eclipse: A return to form; perhaps the toughest and most serious of the franchise with great action beats. Still not as good as the first, but getting there.
Breaking Dawn, Part 1: Given the marriage-wedding night-pregnancy-birth storyline, not sure how much better this could have been. Competent but not my cup of tea.
And so to Breaking Dawn, Part 2. This finds Bella newly vampirized (Edward had to turn her to save her after a rough childbirth) and a new mom as well, so she’s got plenty on her plate. Before she’s allowed to visit Renesmee, she’s a bit hungry/thirsty, so Edward takes her into the forest of Forks to feed. She delights in her heightened senses; she can see and hear the tiniest creatures and slightest movements. This Colors of the Wind journey is beautifully staged. Bella eyes a deer (shades of the first film’s opening) and then a rock-climber, but decides to nosh on a predatory mountain lion instead: the beast had it coming, after all.
Back home, a satiated Belle greets her new infant, whose gaze and expressions seem otherworldly… alright, because they were all heavily treated with computer graphics. I understand they wanted the baby to react intelligently to the adults, which infant actors can’t do, but for me the obvious CGI work on the infant Renesmee is one of this film’s few missteps.
Soon Alice or one of the Cullens gets word that the Volturi are coming to town, and boy are they pissed! A Denali friend saw
Ed Jake and Bell with the baby and somehow assumed it was an Immortal Child, a human baby turned into a vampire. Such little monsters destroy villages and are forbidden, and so the evil ones are coming to town to destroy little Ren’. The Cullens ain’t havin’ this, so they summon all their far-flung relations, a charming crew of international vamps of varying powers, ethnicities, and sexual preferences.
Hey, what about wolf-boy Jacob? (Does he even have a Team anymore?) You may remember that he imprinted on Renesmee as an infant, and she and Jake now share a strong psychic link. He’s to be her guardian as the battle erupts. Renesmee has grown quickly into a self-assertive youngster (played brilliantly by tween actress Mackenzie Foy) reluctant to leave her parents’ side.
So the Volturi roll into town; they meet the Cullens et al on a battle plain (so civilized!), a snow-covered meadow, and proceed to basically talk for a long time. Which ain’t a bad thing; this film finally delivers a sufficient dose of Michael Sheen‘s splendid performance as Aro, the king o’ the Volts, which I didn’t mind one bit. Through a transmitted vision he decides Renesmee is alright but then decides to do away with her anyhow, because what the hey.
At this point the film diverges somewhat from the book. Apparently Ms. Meyer declined to cap off her book series with a climactic battle, but one is desperately needed for dramatic reasons. The filmmakers brilliantly figure a way to have it both ways, delivering a brutal battle with many beheadings and some shocking deaths that in no way violates the author’s original intentions. Things wrap up with the happy couple(s) looking towards a nice eternity together, and the baddies vanquished for good… or at least for now.
So basically the film is in three parts: new vampire mom, international vamp clan, epic confrontation. All of these were engaging and this lively and clever film really held my intention. It almost made me like Edward and Bella as much as I did after the first film, which is really saying something. I’m glad this popular and important series was able to go out on such a high note. Though I will miss the ear-splitting Comic-Con panels…
What did you think of the final Twilight film?