Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2
Director – Bill Condon
Starring – Rob Pattinson
I should start this post by noting that, prior to Breaking Dawn Part 2, I had never seen a Twilight movie or read any of the books. What little I know about Twilight comes from a handful of online articles, blogs, and pestering my girlfriend with questions about who everyone is what the hell they’re doing. But despite my ignorance, or maybe because of it, I enjoyed the hell out of this movie.
Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 is, of course, the last movie in the incredibly popular Twilight series. I doubt a synopsis is necessary since everyone reading this blog probably knows more about Twilight than I ever will. So I’ll briefly note that the movie resolved the cliffhanger at the end of Breaking Dawn Part 1 (Bella Swan survived childbirth and is now a vampire, she and Edward Cullen had a baby daughter named Renesmee) and it ended with the Volturi (the bad vampires) agreeing to leave the Cullens alone. Everyone lived happily ever after, or at least until Stephanie Meyer needs more money.
If I judged the film according to the usual measures used by movie reviewers I would have to give it a negative review. I’ll concede that some of my confusion with the plot may be due to my lack of background knowledge, but characters behaved in ways that are inexplicable under any circumstances. For example, if vampires can run across continents at super-speed, why do the Cullens drive everywhere? Why does Bella drive her damn Volvo all the way to Seattle to meet Bunk from “The Wire” when that conversation could have been handled over the phone? And why does Edward just seem to resign himself to the idea that Jacob will be banging his daughter in the near future (and I get the whole imprinting thing, maybe it works in the books, but it’s damn creepy on the screen)? Doesn’t Edward hate Jacob, and if so why does he let the guy hang around his house?
The long middle section of the film was a ripoff of the sequence in “Seven Samurai” where the hero assembled a team of badasses. There’s nothing wrong with ripping off Kurosawa, but there’s not much of a payoff. The collection of badasses actually don’t get much to do and half of them don’t even have speaking roles. The only amusing thing about them was the film’s shameless reliance on ethnic stereotypes. The Amazonian vampire women were particularly ridiculous. I assume they were suppose to come from a primitive tribe in the jungle, but the filmmakers defined “primitive” to mean dressed like rejects from a mid-80’s music video. I started humming “Hungry Like the Wolf” whenever they were on screen.
And the acting by the leads was atrocious. Kristen Stewart and Rob Pattinson are not novices: they’ve acted in four previous Twilight movies and plenty of other films on the side. So I was floored by just how bad they were. Pattinson fluctuated between looking bored and looking constipated. Stewart wasn’t much better, and she delivered nearly every line without conviction or emotional tone. And her narration was even worse! She was so disinterested in her lines she might as well have been reading an instruction manual for assembling furniture. And their romantic chemistry was about as exciting as watching someone assemble furniture.
The special effects looked second-rate too. I could go on and on about the werewolves, but the worse example of CGI was the digital face layered on the baby. It was so fake and poorly done that she looked like a monster. Baby Renesmee was far creepier than any of the vampires or werewolves.
so Breaking Dawn Part 2 is a bad movie in most respects, though that hardly matters to most Twihards. And to be honest, I enjoyed the movie far more than I thought I would. In fact, I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it more than my girlfriend did, and she’s read every book. Some of the entertainment value comes from the badness itself, which turned serious scenes into unintentionally hilarious moments. My favorite example was when Jacob decided to reveal his werewolf nature to Bella’s father, Charlie.* Rather than explain what he’s about to do, thereby giving Charlie some mental preparation, Jacob started stripping in front of Charlie while saying (something along the lines of) “The world is not what you think it is!” And poor Charlie reacted as if he was about to have a gay surprise in the woods. I’m not sure if the scene is in the book, if it is perhaps it’s less homoerotic on the page, but on the screen it was a laugh-out-loud moment.
But I have to give the filmmakers some credit, as there are plenty of scenes in the film that could only have been intended as comedy. There is no other explanation for Bella’s response when she learned that Jacob had given her daughter the nickname Nessie. I refuse to believe that the line “You nicknamed my daughter after the Loch Ness Monster!” was intended as anything other than comedy gold. Intentionality aside, that scene should be stored in the AFI vault because that is the greatest line in film history. Michael Sheen’s reaction when he first met Renesmee was almost as fantastic, particularly when he unleashed this incredible sound that resembled a girlish squeal mixed with a giggle. It was probably an improvised moment, but kudos to the filmmakers for leaving it in.
The battle scene was surprisingly cool as well. The entire battle was a dream sequence/possible future that never occurred, and everyone who died in the battle was still alive at the end of the movie (except for Maggie Grace). It was gratuitous violence that added nothing to the plot and shamelessly pandered to the worst instincts of the audience. And I’m okay with that. After sitting through more than an hour of what passes for acting in this movie, a sudden burst of psycho violence was a welcome change of pace. And how can I hate a movie with such a high character-to-decapitation ratio? Dakota Fanning had her head bitten off by a giant dog! Alice kicked insane amounts of ass and that one Volturi got half his head ripped off starting from the cheeks (I don’t remember his name, but he’s the one who yelled “Artifice!” which was the second greatest/craziest line in the movie). Even Bella and Edward were awesome when they tag teamed Aro. Though as much as I enjoyed the battle, I have to admit that the level of violence was shocking for a PG-13 movie. Apparently, if there’s no blood spurt then on-screen decapitations are perfectly appropriate as tween entertainment. As for the lack of pumping blood, is that from the novels or is it an innovation by the filmmakers?
Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 is either the greatest bad movie of 2012 or just a shitty movie with 3 or 4 brilliant moments. I’m tempted to watch the earlier films just to see if they’re equally terrible/awesome, though I’ve been warned that they’re not as fun. Or maybe I should just swallow my pride and read the damn novels. What say you commenters, are they worth it?
* This was the moment when I decided that I was with Team Edward. Edward may be dull as dirt, but Jacob is an obnoxious meddler. And the pedophile vibe doesn’t exactly help matters.