TBTS Reviews: The Twilight Saga, Part 5: Breaking Dawn Part 2
And here it is, the day we’ve all been waiting for: the release of Breaking Dawn Part 2, the fifth and final Twilight film. Fellow Tweedster PaultheGeek and I have been watching and reviewing all the films in the series leading up to this day, and this evening we made our way to the local theater for the final film. We expected a crazy crowd, but the theater was actually about half-empty. We walked in 10 minutes before it started and got really good seats. I’m pretty sure Paul was the only guy there. Anyway. Read our reviews of Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn Part 1, then settle in for some spoilery fun below.
(And by spoilery fun, I mean SPOILERS. All of them. I’m not kidding. If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, and you don’t want to know how it ends, stop reading right now. Seriously. You have been warned.)
First off, Paul and I have four complaints about this movie:
1. The opening sequence – BDP2 is the first to feature an extended opening credit sequence. It looked really cool — lots of sweeping landscape shots while the actors’ names appeared. The only issue I have is the weird font-morphing they chose to do. The names appear first in a red serif font, then morph into a white sans serif font. But the letters didn’t always line up, and I found myself watching for it as the names changed. I’m a font nerd, I’ll admit, and I found this to be just sloppily done.
2. Bella’s first words – In the book, Bella wakes up as a vampire and spends a few minutes taking everything in. She notices the tiny dust particles in the air, the light, her surroundings. The movie captures this very well. Then (in the book) Bella looks into a mirror and studies herself. Her first words are, “The eyes. How long?” I thought this was a cool introduction. The only thing that gives her pause are her freaky red eyes. In the movie, however, they decide to start us off with some Grade A classic mush. Bella and Edward hug, and it’s all, “I love you Bella. I love you Edward.” Puh-lease.
3. The creepy CGI baby – Bella and Edward’s half-human, half-vampire spawn (named Renesmee) is supposed to age quickly and be very expressive. I guess they couldn’t find a real baby to do that, so they CGI’ed one in. And it is CREEPY AS FUCK. Seriously. Every time it was onscreen I felt myself cringing. I couldn’t pay attention to what was happening because its dead eyes were looking RIGHT AT ME. The kid grows quickly and eventually they use a live human girl to play the character, but they CGI a younger face on her until she reaches the age of the actress. ALSO CREEPY AS FUCK. But when they start using her actual face, she is pretty freakin’ adorable.
4. Bella finding out about the imprinting – Once Bella has her initial vampire fun, she gets to meet her baby. She finds out pretty quickly that Jacob imprinted on her. Bella is supposed to be furious, so furious that she actually almost hurts Jacob. In the movie, this scene falls pretty flat, mostly because Kristen Stewart can’t act her way out of a paper bag.
Now, for the good stuff:
1. The structure – The film’s structure is pretty classic, but totally works here. Act 1 is about Bella getting used to her new vampire life: hunting, being a mother, settling in to her place in the world. Act 2 begins with Alice’s vision of the Volturi coming to punish the Cullens for creating what they think is an uncontrollable immortal child, which is a violation of one of the few laws they enforce. The family recruits vampires from around the world to stand with them and try to convince the Volturi of what Renesmee really is. Act 3 is the final showdown: the Cullens, their friends and the wolves against the mighty Volturi guard.
2. The diverse cast of vampires – It was really interesting to see vampires from all over the world come together to stand up to the Volturi. You get to see how they each live, what their gifts are, how they interact with others of their kind. Paul especially thought this part of the story was well done. It’s much more about the mythology that Stephenie Meyer has created and less about the love story we’ve been focused on for four films.
3. Michael Sheen – In a word: AMAZING. He plays Aro with such abandon, getting utterly lost inside the character. He’s brilliant, powerful, dangerous, but also childlike in a way. His gift is that he can read someone’s thoughts, see everything they’ve seen, feel everything they’ve felt, by simply touching them. It’s how he acquires information, and each time he does it, you can see that it thrills him. When he meets Renesmee and experiences her gift, which is the reverse of his (she can project her thoughts and experiences onto others by touch), he literally squeals. Like a little girl. His giddiness contrasts nicely with his ruthlessness; you can see that he will not hesitate to destroy the Cullens and their friends to get what he wants. You can tell that Michael Sheen has had a great time playing the character, and he brings Aro to life so beautifully.
4. The twist at the end – Several of the actors making the press rounds have mentioned that there’s a big twist at the end, without giving away any details. Well, here it is: Alice and Jasper return from their trip to Brazil to find more proof of what Renesmee is. Alice shows Aro what she’s learned, but sees that he has made up his mind and nothing she shows him will stop him. The battle begins. Aro and Carlisle launch themselves at each other, and Aro rips Carlisle’s head off. CARLISLE! HE DIES! The battle continues. Jasper is killed. JASPER! Then Seth! Then Jane! Esme almost falls into the center of the Earth. Edward does fall into the center of the Earth. Then Bella and Edward go after Aro and kill him! And just when you think they’re going to Whedonize the ending, the camera pulls out and you see that this is the vision that Alice is showing Aro. It’s only when he sees his own imminent death that he decides to let the Cullens be, and they all live happily ever after. (Can I just say… my heart nearly EXPLODED out of my chest when Aro ripped Carlisle’s head off. I was shocked, SHOCKED I say.)
People have been hating on the Twilight films since before they were released, and to be fair, this is not The Godfather. This is a pop culture phenomenon, a movie aimed at teenagers about a girl in love with a vampire. This is not Shakespeare. But that doesn’t mean that it’s bad. The films could have been better, and they have gotten better with each release. Breaking Dawn Part 2 is the best of the series, in my opinion. But these films are undeniably part of our culture. The books and films have caused a major resurgence in vampire stories, and have paved the way for more books aimed at teenagers and more books aimed at girls, both of which are very good things. I just hope that the powers-that-be in Hollywood will take the crazy success of Twilight and start funneling money towards even better movies for the young, female audience.