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'Twilight' saga ends with a bang

Posted: November 21, 2012 - 5:17pm  |  Updated: November 22, 2012 - 9:44am
This film image released by Summit Entertainment shows Kristen Stewart, left, and Robert Pattinson in a scene from "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2." (AP Photo/Summit Entertainment, Andrew Cooper)  AP
AP
This film image released by Summit Entertainment shows Kristen Stewart, left, and Robert Pattinson in a scene from "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2." (AP Photo/Summit Entertainment, Andrew Cooper)

“Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 2”

Lionsgate Films

1 hour, 55 minutes

 

I can’t believe it’s all really over. No more Team Jacob or Team Edward. No more interminable tracking shots of Bella moping. No more awkward shirtless scenes for Taylor Lautner. It’s done. Summit Entertainment has managed to squeeze every last penny out of Stephanie Meyers’ convoluted, meandering vampire love story, and they finished it off with a bang. “Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 2” (I feel like there should be an “Electric Boogaloo” in there somewhere) is by far the most entertaining of all the “Twilight” films. By far.

Good? No, no, no. In fact it may be the most ridiculous of the whole series, but way more fun.

Our story begins where the last left off. You’ll remember, if you subjected yourself, that Bella finally got her wish to be a vampire after Edward bit her back to life, or death, I guess, following the difficult birth of her half-vampire baby who was eating her from the inside. Even more difficult on everyone involved, especially the audience, is the fact that they decide to name the baby Renesmee. So, a few days of unconsciousness, and Bella awakens to a new world of awareness where she can hear the beating of a squirrel’s heart and see the carpet fiber really, really close up.

Ironically, now that she’s dead, Bella finally looks hale and healthy, with a ruddy glow and shining eyes to replace the waxy pale skin and half-lidded stare of the previous thirty-five “Twilight” films. You might believe the filmmakers were making a statement about how a half-lived life is the true death and real life can only be achieved when you give yourself fully to love and new experiences, but I doubt it. I think the actual statement is that vampires are hot, and Bella has, to this point, been anything but.

Feeling fine though she is, Bella does have a few shocks awaiting her. One, she’s going to have to feed. Oh sure, she could take the easy route by offing the unfortunate rock climber or the cute deer, but Bella, no shirker, takes on a full-grown mountain lion. Boo-ya! Also a problem is the overbearing presence of her on-again, off-again werewolf boy-toy Jacob who has “imprinted” on baby Renesmee, and has affectionately nicknamed “Nessie.” Awww. I’m not entirely sure what imprinting is or what it entails, other than that Jacob has had to move in with the Cullens (Bella’s vamp in-laws) and never let the baby out of his sight. And just in case you get a little creeped out, Jacob goes to great pains to shout, “It’s not like that!” at least once.

The biggest problem, however, that Bella will have to deal with is the fact that the production department has completely replaced her actual baby with a not-entirely convincing CGI one. Why is this? Your guess is as good as mine. I know you’re allowed to film actual babies. I’m sure I’ve seen one in a movie before. Perhaps the computer generated baby had a subtle mix of the two lead actors, ala Conan O’Brien’s old bit, “What if They Mated?” and I just didn’t notice.

One interesting element of this movie is that, unlike most series finales, “T:BD-pt2” has basically a stand-alone plot. It reintroduces characters from the whole series, but the conflict is self-contained. While out playing with a rapidly growing Renesmee, who is now played by a real actress, though her face remains CG, Irina, a member of a neighboring vampire clan happens to witness the little girl flying through the air. By the way, Renesmee can fly. Also, she can do the Vulcan mind-meld.

Anyway, Irina leaps to the assumption that Nessie is an Immortal Child, the description of which throws us into an unintentionally hilarious flashback featuring a gore splattered 14th-century toddler and the evening’s first (of many) decapitations. I know it doesn’t sound funny, but you just have to see it.

Apparently an Immortal Child is a when you turn a kid into a vampire. The vampire never matures, mentally or physically, and tends to throw terrifying tantrums which decimate whole villages. Dealing with Immortal Children was what prompted the creation of the Volturi (vampire aristocracy/enforcement) in the first place.

Creating an Immortal Child is pretty much the worst thing a vampire can do. So, rather than question why the notoriously law-abiding and square Cullen clan would blithely break one of the only vampire laws there is, Irina runs to Italy to report this crime to the Volturi and their manic, pop-eyed, giggling leader Aro, played by Michael Sheen who is a much, much better actor than this movie might suggest. Of course, Nessie is not an Immortal Child, a fact that Irina could have easily ascertained with a quick, “Hey, who’s this?” But, if she did, we would have missed out on all the fun to come.

Of course, everything’s leading up to a giant battle between the good vampires, the werewolves and the Volturi, and some of the funniest parts of the movie are the battle preparations. For some reason, even though the vampires can scurry at the speed of light and leap from treetop to treetop like lemurs, it takes the Volturi a long time to get from Italy to Washington. This leaves plenty of time to gather up the United Nations of vampires to come and stand with the kindly Cullens. And, since no one can tell any of these bland, Abercrombie models apart, the costume department is given leave to dress everyone as regionally stereotypical as possible. We’ve got jungle vamps in loin cloths, Irish vamps in sailor’s caps, Arab vamps, even Transylvanian vamps.

Add to that, extra werewolves, huge, computer generated goofy-looking beasts that snarl and snap and carry absolutely no emotional weight because the screenwriters forgot to indicate to the audience who was who. The only way we can tell that Jacob is Jacob while in wolf form is that Bella is usually glaring at him.

Finally, the climax arrives and boy, does this movie’s climax pay off. If you’re worried about spoilers, I’d quit reading, but really, does it matter?

The Volturi eventually show up and the two groups face off in a big, snowy field. After a lot of back and forth, is she or isn’t she, the battle is waged and it is a huge, wild, fall-on-the-floor-funny mess. Rarely have I witnessed such a huge amount of effort go into creating a scene that is entirely effective but for entirely the wrong reasons. A horde of vampires careening across the screen, this way and that, werewolves chomping and leaping, and dozens of vampire heads flying through the air. Apparently, the only way to kill a vampire is to yank his head off. And I do mean yank, often standing on the victim’s shoulders to provide for extra leverage. “Ooof! Man, this head is really on here!!”

Because this is PG-13, there’s not really any blood, but, really, after the third fake head pops off the shoulders of the obvious mannequin beneath it, it quits being disturbing in any way. These “Twilight” movies tend to be overlong, but “T:BD-pt2” is actually pretty reasonable — I could have watched the battle for another twenty minutes, in fact. Like all good things, however, it must finally end, and does so with a clever plot twist that I didn’t see coming, and elicited appreciative ooohs and ahhs from the audience.

When it’s all said and done, the “Twilight” series of films is pretty abysmal, a fact underscored by an ill-advised recap montage late in the movie that does little beyond illustrating how pale and sickly Kristin Stewart looked for most the films. But “Breaking Dawn 2” has at least this going for it: though not a good film, and showcasing the same terrible dialogue, plot holes, and mediocre acting as its predecessors, it is one that I can see watching again. After all, a good comedy is hard to find.

Grade: C-

“Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 2” is rated PG-13 for heads-a-poppin’ action, goofy vampire violence, and an overly complicated title.

 

Chris Jenness is a freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.

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