It’s the end of an era. With The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2, the drawn out tale of Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) has come to a close. Should I sigh relief and shout to the heavens, “Finally!”? Or should I sigh with wistful sadness and whisper, “Not yet”? Would it be weird if I did both? Because while this saga of vampire-human love was mostly a cringe-fest, it was a cringe-fest I actually came to look forward to. I liked laughing at the way it took itself too seriously, I liked making fun of the wooden acting, the stilted dialogue, the beleaguered themes of chastity… What will fill the void?
Breaking Dawn – Part 2 doesn’t break much from the tradition of the first four films, and if you’ve read my other Twilight reviews you’ll know what those unfortunate traditions entail. While Part 1 ended with Bella becoming a vampire after nearly dying giving birth to her daughter Renesmee, Part 2 revolves around the fast-growing half-human, half-vampire spawn. Thanks to a misunderstanding, the Volturi come to believe that Bella and Edward have created an immortal child – a major sin in the vampire world. The Volturi are coming to confront the Cullen family, so the Cullens round up their closest vampire allies to serve as witnesses to Renesmee. The vampires from all over the world converge on Forks, Washington like some bizarre family reunion and prepare for a tense showdown with the Volturi, who are gathering up witnesses of their own. It all leads up to the final test for Bella and Edward, to see if they truly can live happily ever after. As if there’s any doubt.
Much of the film’s first half, though, is dedicated to Bella’s adjustment into the vampire world – and it turns out, she’s a fast learner. She masters the hunt, even restraining her urges to feed on a human. She enjoys vampire sex with Edward (shot in totally uncomfortable super-close-ups). She even discovers she has a special power: She’s a shield. She can use her mind to protect herself and others from potentially harmful vampire powers. Comes quite in handy during their meeting with the Volturi. The thing is, Kristen Stewart is not very good at playing tough. She wasn’t good at playing Bella as a meek human either, but at least it was more believable. When she angrily freaks out at Jacob (Taylor Lautner) for “imprinting” on her daughter and giving her the nickname “Nessie,” it was hard to take her seriously.
Thankfully, the “imprinting” storyline refrains from becoming too creepy. In Twilight terms, imprinting is when a werewolf forms an involuntary bond with their soulmate. Since Renesmee is still a small child, it would be bordering on pedophilia to have Jacob’s instincts toward her be anything more than protectiveness. The film treats the whole thing lightly, as if it realizes just how absurd it is.
But pretty much everything in the Twilight series is absurd. The way Bella’s dad Charlie (Billy Burke) just accepts Bella’s pathetic lies is another example. In order to keep Bella in his life, he goes along with the story that Renesmee was “adopted” and seems to be oblivious to the fact that she aged 5 years practically over night. Guess ignorance is bliss. The vampire witnesses are all a bit ridiculous as well. Two of them literally sound like The Count from Sesame Street. The most fun to watch are Kate (Casey LaBow), who radiates electricity (literally) and Garrett (Lee Pace), a reckless vamp from New Orleans. Michael Sheen’s portrayal of Volturi leader Aro, meanwhile, descends into cartoonish villainy. When he finds out that Renesmee has an actual beating heart, he lets out what can only be described as a high-pitched maniacal giggle. The audience let out some loud laughs of their own at that.
But the real buzz for this final installment is the so-called “twist” that the Internet has been chattering about. I won’t give it away here, but I am ashamed to say, I did not see it coming. It’s a ballsy move and is sure to have fans gasping in their seats. It’s pretty much the most interesting thing the movie has going for it. The “twist” brings some much-needed action to the film and without it, things would have ended on a rather dull note.
As the series comes to an end, there were some final flourishes to make things feel more special. The beginning and end are bookended by long credit sequences, and one of the final scenes includes a montage of moments past. For better or for worse (mostly worse), I was committed to the series, but now it’s time for the sun to set on Twilight. Somehow, I think I’ll survive.
After the birth of Renesmee, the Cullens gather other vampire clans in order to protect the child from a false allegation that puts the family in front of the Volturi.