Movie Review:
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2
By Matthew Huntley
November 20, 2012

Always looks like satire, never is.

“The epic finale that will live forever,” reads the tagline. Well, I don’t know about forever, but Breaking Dawn Part 2 is at least a satisfying - or satisfying enough - conclusion to the prolonged Twilight series, which I still can’t take seriously after four years and five movies. The good thing is, the filmmakers no longer seem to, either, and even the giddy fans in my screening seemed to laugh at it more than get caught up in the hokey melodrama involving vampires and werewolves. This lightened tone made it all the easier to watch and I suppose non-Twi-hards like myself can at least appreciate its action, sense of humor and unexpected ending. Still, none of the Twilight films, including this one, have ever made me think I need to see them a second time.

If you’ve kept up with the series this long, then you already know Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), a human, married Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), a vampire, in Breaking Dawn Part 1. At the end, she gave birth to their daughter, a human-vampire hybrid named Renesmee, which both species thought was impossible. Carrying the child deteriorated Bella’s body and she was on the verge of death until Edward “saved” her by injecting her with a venom that would convert her to a vampire, which, deep down, is something Bella always wanted.

Now she’s awakened, stronger and hungrier than ever, and to Edward and the rest of the Cullen clan’s surprise, she’s able to keep her thirst for blood, specifically human blood, under control. She’s even able to be in the same room with poor Charlie (Billy Burke), her father, who’s not yet aware of the type of world Bella inhabits, though he has a better idea after Jacob (Taylor Lautner) strips down and reveals himself to be a werewolf. “I just saw a kid I’ve known my whole life turn into a dog,” he says. While Charlie remains in the dark about Bella and Edward’s vampirish ways, Bella assures him she’ll tell him anything he “needs” to know, and he accepts that.

So it would seem Bella, Edward and young Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy), who’s growing at an incalculable rate, will finally be allowed to enjoy their lives together. Edward’s family even pitched in and built them a cozy, picturesque house in the woods that looks like something right out of a fairy tale. But when a neighboring vampire named Irina (Maggie Grace) sees the little girl float up to catch a snowflake, she immediately thinks the child was bitten at a young age, thus making her immortal, and in the eyes of the ruling Volturi, the vampire royalty from Italy who monitor the race, that’s a big no-no. Because immortal children are incapable of growing and reaching full maturity, they go on feeding rampages and run the risk of exposing vampires to humans, potentially threatening their existence.

It would seem all Bella and Edward have to do is explain that Renesmee has human blood inside her and therefore poses no immediate threat, but Aro (Michael Sheen), the leader of the Volturi with a thirst for power and bloodshed, has already made up his mind based on Irina’s limited allegations. He, his brother Caius (Jamie Campbell Bower), and other Volturi members Jane (Dakota Fanning) and Alec (Cameron Bright), declare war. Alice (Ashley Greene), Edward’s adopted sister who can tell the future, warns Bella the Volturi will be coming for them the moment the first snowfall sticks. Why the Volturi chose that time, who’s to say, unless they wanted to make sure everyone had a pleasant Christmas.

To prepare for the Volturi’s arrival, the Cullens start recruiting other vampire clans from around the world, including the Amazon, Egypt, Ireland and Romania. We see how each vampire - good and bad - possesses a unique power, among them mind manipulation; the ability to stun via touch; reading the memories of others; taking away bodily senses; wielding the physical elements; and generating a shell of energy to protect against harm. If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear I was watching another X-Men movie.

Anyway, the good and bad vampires, with the good being backed by werewolves (another no-no in the eyes of the Volturi), proceed to a stand-off and both sides await all hell to break loose. But if you’re an avid reader of the Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer, you already know this. I’m curious if the movie’s ending matches that of the book, and if not, I applaud screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg for making such a bold and effective adaptation choice.

All this makes for light and amusing entertainment, in a juicy soap opera sort of way, but nothing more. I’ll forget the details surrounding Breaking Dawn Part 2 in a matter of weeks, but I’m confident other viewers like me will at least feel they got what they paid for and will be grateful for the movie’s energy and affection for its characters. It’s hardly essential viewing, but if you’ve made it this far in the franchise, there’s no reason to stop now. For the major Twi-hards, there’s also no reason to think you won’t be in heaven when the final song plays over the closing credits. To that, I say two things: a) enjoy; and b) move on—it’s time.