After five years and four movies of disco ball vampirism, lupine six packs and Kristen Stewart’s monotone delivery, “The Twilight Saga” breathes its last in “Breaking Dawn – Part 2,” and it’s well overdue. The final installment of Stephenie Meyer’s monster plays out like a primetime episode in the Friday night graveyard slot, as director Bill Condon (“Chicago,” “Dreamgirls”) returns to wrap up the mess he made in “Breaking Dawn – Part 1.”
Our heroine Bella Swan nee Cullen (Kristen Stewart) emerges from a fatal childbirth scene as a brand-new vampire. All it took was a string of near death experiences, suicidal attempts and a brutal C-section to get there. As the stylized opening credits sequence—the best scene in the movie by far—fades, we learn that Bella now has the ability to read books from across the room and spot dust mites inching along the carpet, no doubt what she’s dreamt of since childhood. “Part Two” is all about fan service and pleasing the Twi-Hards with the rich, vampire husband, the ridiculously ripped best friend, and the creepy, telepathic CG baby. Bella is living the all-new American dream for self-insertion fans, and the cameras are all too happy to oblige with first-person shots. Aside from their daughter Renesmee’s (Mackenzie Foy) unfortunate name and uncannily rapid development, weeks go by in a dreamy haze of deer hunting, extreme arm wrestling and honeymoon contact sports. But vampire sports camp has to come to an end sometime.
Irina (Maggie Grace), a vampire of the Denali coven, makes an unannounced visit just in time to witness little Renesmee hovering a good 30 feet in the air to play with snowflakes. She mistakes the girl for an Immortal Child—a vampire who is turned at a very young age and, unable to control their childish impulses and newfound bloodlust, becomes a mass murdering abomination—and reports the perceived crime to the ruthless Aro (Michael Sheen), leader of the Volturi. Alice Cullen (Ashley Greene) foresees the impending conflict between the Volturi and the Cullens, and warns Bella, Jacob (Taylor Lautner) and the rest of the Cullen family before vanishing with Jasper (Jackson Rathbone). The storyline transitions into a worldwide search for Witnesses (which I, at one point, mistook for the search for the next Avatar) who are willing to attest to Renesmee Cullen’s non-Immortality, because really, she’s just a miracle kid. Their eventual allies range from a pair of borderline racist depictions of Amazonians to the rakish Lee Pace who plays a vampire veteran from the American Revolution. Every other vampire has super special powers (including mental projections and electric shocks), and of course Bella has to have the incredibly rare ability of being a “Shield.” I kept waiting for Charles Xavier to wheel in from around a tree and invite everyone to his school for gifted children. But this is all just a way of passing the time until the movie gets around to the final showdown. We got the cheesy romance and superpowers. Now we want carnage.
“Breaking Dawn – Part 2” features the same CG wolves (who are thankfully silent this time around), and gems of dialogue (early on Edward lovingly tells Bella, “We’re the same temperature now”) we’re all used to, as well as the general campiness slathered over any scene that involves the comically sinister Volturi. The computer animated violence is a real treat, complete with decapitations that are reminiscent of popping the heads off Barbie and Ken dolls. It’s impossible to take this movie seriously, and it’s clear that at this point no one really cares. A little bit of digging and embedded between scenes like Jacob’s striptease for Bella’s dad and Michael Sheen’s general flamboyance, the audience can catch glimpses of the “Screw this and screw you, and you, and you…” projected by the actors who are obviously eager to put this “Twilight” business behind them. Critiquing the plot or dialogue or characters would be a waste of time, because this isn’t really a movie; it’s a motion picture fan book.
Let’s pick on one thing. Just one. If we can get past the fact that the 18-year-old female protagonist has just married a century-old vampire and had a baby demolish its way out of her uterus, fine. Young people have done far stupider things. But the thing that is definitely, unarguably not okay is when in “Part 1” Jacob attempts to kill Renesmee, and then imprints on her instead. For those not well-versed “Twilight” lingo, imprinting is when (usually) male shape-shifters get that tingly feeling the moment they meet their one and only. Jacob is 16-years-old. Renesmee is a baby. Even drink-my-blood-and-turn-me-please Bella flips out when she finds out that her friend—who was crushing on her not too long ago—has laid his “moronic wolfy claim” on her newborn daughter. However, this too settles down before the end of the first act. Because it’s just a little pedophilia, right? No big deal. Oh, no, no, no.
Bottom line: fans of the series will be satisfied with “Breaking Dawn – Part Two,” because it wrings every drop of sappy sentimentalism it can out of each scene. Anyone who isn’t a “Twilight” fan won’t care. If this is a must-watch for you, catch the matinee instead of the evening show unless you want screeching pre-adolescents to spice up your cinematic experience.