The film picks up where the previous film left off, with Bella (Kristen Stewart) waking for the first time after her vampiric metamorphosis. This franchise has never won awards for emotional sincerity, but after watching the entire Cullen household figuratively hold their breath waiting to see if Bella would survive in Part 1, the opening to Part 2 is comically uneventful. I half expected Bella to be chided for sleeping in on a weekday. After experiencing her newfound strength for the first time, in a rather humorously scripted exchange, Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella greet their new baby Renesmee (mostly Mackenzie Foy) for the first time together. The former love triangle is resolved as Jacob (Taylor Lautner) ‘imprints’ on the child. With the thrill of the romantic chase complete, the story now turns to the Cullen’s preserving their way of life against the Volturi, who view Renesmee as a potential threat. After Alice (Ashley Greene) gets a vision that Aro (Michael Sheen) and Jane (Dakota Fanning) are coming for the child, Edward’s family scrambles to gather allies from around the world to help them.
Many were thrilled with the prospect that Part 2, unencumbered by the weight of a melodramatic love triangle, could finally break free and explore some of the other aspects of the Twilight mythology. I admit I was even excited at the idea of epic battles fought by a legion of vampiric X-Men. So I was surprised to find that not even vampire decapitations could save this film from being just an assortment of random events. The first four films relied so heavily on the drama between its three leads, that everything in Part 2 feels like an afterthought. Much of the film’s runtime is spent traveling around the world gathering sympathetic witnesses for the Cullens’ plight, and having said witnesses stand awkwardly around staring at each other.
Condon did a lot to resurrect the tone of this franchise, adding more horror elements and daring to push the darker qualities of this world. Part 2 has some great ideas and interesting historical context that is surprisingly rushed in a film that had all the time in the world to get it right. The biggest irritant though is the late addition of some awesome ancillary characters that are woefully squandered. Had these characters been introduced earlier in the series, who knows where Twilight might be today.
Breaking Dawn – Part 2 really needed to leave the confines of its source material in order to be successful. Without a thoughtfully developed conflict providing forward momentum, this film feels like an extended coda for the series. The showdown with the Volturi should have been reminiscent of other epic fantasy series, but without the proper worldbuilding it never achieves the necessary level of suspense. Casual fans and those dragged to the theater against their will may find enough entertainment value, but “Twi-hards” will be sorely disappointed.
Possible Spoiler Alert
There is much talk of a ‘twist’ in the film. It is an oft-used trick, and if there is justice in the world, this will be the last time we see it used. It’s well executed, provides its “gotcha” moment, but does a lot to rob the plot of catharsis. A wishy-washy end to a film already bereft of a compelling focus and intent.
Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 is now playing in Philly-area theaters.