The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part Two REVIEW

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part Two film review: It’s got the fight stuff

Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in Breaking Dawn Part Two.

"Gottle of geer! Gottle of geer!"


Release Date: 16 November 2012
12A | 115 minutes
Distributor: Entertainment One
Director:
Bill Condon
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Michael Sheen, Mackenzie Foy

For the best part of half an hour, Breaking Dawn Part Two is one of the most exhilarating films of the year. Seriously.

If you have even the slightest emotional investment in the characters, the feral fight between the Cullen and the Volturi covens on an icy battlefield in Forks, Washington is such a heart-racing experience that it makes this final instalment in The Twilight Saga easily one of the best in the series. The important caveat is that the preceding 75 minutes are dripping with the mawkish, mewling melodrama the franchise is chastised/adored for. Struggle through them and Breaking Dawn Part Two’s climactic supernatural scrap won’t disappoint.

It’s a thrillingly directed, expertly edited, perfectly paced, bone-breakingly brutal sequence. Vampires on both sides of the divide get their noggins and arms ripped off at an apocalyptic rate, with the most gruesome (albeit bloodless) kills reserved for the very worst of the Voluri’s boo-hiss baddies in a punishing cycle of utter disbelief followed by cathartic, crowd-pleasing uber-violence. And the interesting thing is this entire sequence doesn’t feature in the book at all.

The unduly reverential Twilight films have never been able to rise above a certain level of competency because the novels they’re based on are poorly plotted, inadequately characterised, uncomfortably preachy guff. Until the gloriously cinematic final encounter, this latest film follows the book to the letter. Newly-wed vamps Bella and Edward are now parents to a half-mortal, half-vampire child, Renesmee, who the Volturi mistakenly believe to be a highly illegal immortal child. To save their family from slaughter the Cullens go globetrotting and assemble witnesses to Renesmees’s mortality, all while the recently-turned Bella is coming to grips with her bloodlust and badass powers.

What this means is that the film suffers from the book’s shortcomings. Take Alistair, a British vampire who mopes around the Cullens’s crib, then buggers off before the big fight. It’s true to the book, but his presence is bafflingly pointless. Of the remaining undead recruits, Pushing Daisies’ Lee Pace gives the assembled vamps some spirit as Garrett, but the rest simply show up to make up the numbers for the final battle and use their various powers as and when required. They’re not characters, they’re furniture.

The other crucial problem is that everything goes too smoothly. Drama is driven by conflict, by tragedy, by people failing. At one point Edward says to Bella, “Every obstacle you’ve faced, I’d think you couldn’t overcome it. But you just did.” This (horribly mangled) sentiment gets to the heart of the issue. In something like Buffy, Joss Whedon isn’t afraid to kick a character while they’re down, and kick them some more knowing it will make their eventual triumph all the sweeter. In Twilight, the characters never fail. There are only minor stumbles on the road to a happy ending. Even Bella and Edward’s ultimate threats, the Volturi and their rapidly aging daughter, are dealt with with ease. To a certain extent they are passive players in their own story. Little surprise then, that when the (clearly talented) filmmakers try something off the designated path the film soars.

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