THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
"THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN - PART 2"
What a strange trip it's been. The Twilight saga has obsessively loyal fans and merciless detractors. I entered the film series as a relative newbie. I'd read the first book to see what the fuss was about, thought it was trite, and decided to learn the rest of the story through the movie adaptations I'd be professionally required to view. As has become a regrettable custom, the final installment, Breaking Dawn, was turned into two separate movies, the better to put even more money in the studio's coffers. (But hey, if Twilight's success allows Summit Entertainment to keep putting out stuff like The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Impossible, I'm all for it.) Breaking Dawn – Part 1 was a lot of dull buildup to an abrupt cliffhanger. Breaking Dawn – Part 2 has more physically happening in it, yet, as with everything about this nutty series, I couldn't shake the feeling that Stephenie Meyer's creation is just kooky in all the wrong ways.
The previous installment ended with Bella (Kristen Stewart) giving birth to a half-human/half-vampire baby named Renesmee (stupidest name ever). In order to prevent her from dying, Edward (Robert Pattinson) had to turn her into a bloodsucker. Breaking Dawn – Part 2 opens seconds later, as she awakens to find that she is no longer human, and that werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner) has “imprinted” on her new baby. (I wasn't sure whether to laugh hysterically or be a little repulsed by the implications of that.) The menacing organization of vampires known as the Volturi believes that Renesmee might be some kind of immortal superbaby that could destroy them - or something like that. Under the guidance of the evil Aro (Michael Sheen), the Volturi make their way to Forks, Washington to destroy the baby, Bella and Edward, and the whole Cullen brood. For a story that was initially about a teen girl falling in love with a bad boy, this saga has gone fill-tilt loopy.
While I didn't like any of the four prior Twilight movies, I admit hoping that Breaking Dawn – Part 2 would bring some kind of satisfying conclusion to the saga. After all, this is where everything comes together, you know what I mean? Sadly, I found the film hopelessly dumb and often unintentionally funny. So many bizarre things happen – Jacob imprinting on the baby being just one of them – but the film never finds a way to dramatize them without veering into severe cheesiness. There were moments where I wondered if the movie was actually a comedy. During the big finale, for example, the warring factions speak to one another in hushed voices, but then the camera pulls back to reveal that they're actually standing at least a football field apart.
I have other examples. As I've said before, there's no way to make someone run at high speed without having it look like some hideous salute to “The Benny Hill Show.” And yet, there are dozens of moments in BD2 where this very thing happens. Within the first five minutes, Bella is sprinting through the woods. Actually, as is all too apparent, Kristen Stewart is running on a treadmill in front of a green screen. The effects are appallingly unconvincing. Many other times, a vampire will abruptly whoosh up alongside another character and begin speaking dialogue. It's supposed to be serious, but it makes every instance seem like some kind of weird running joke.
As for the performances, they're noticeably inconsistent. Stewart, Pattinson, and Lautner are all extremely committed, while the cut-rate supporting actors are wooden and stiff. Then you get Michael Sheen, who acts as though he's just marched in from some other movie altogether. Opting for a radically over-the-top delivery, he appears to not take the material seriously at all, and may actually be mocking it. (In fairness, he's also the best thing in the picture.) When you have a cast that can't even seem to agree on a tone, it becomes hard to stay involved on a scene-by-scene basis. Nothing is the same from one second to the next.
To its credit, there's a fairly lengthy battle sequence near the end that's so batshit crazy I actually started to enjoy myself for a few minutes. Of course, that same sequence also relies on a plot device that I hate more than any other plot device in the entirety of cinema. I'm informed that this plot device was not in the book, which makes its inclusion here even more annoying. Why throw in such a cheap gimmick if it clearly wasn't necessary in the source material?
Like I said, it's been a strange journey. Breaking Dawn – Part 2 held my interest, only inasmuch as I'd seen the four previous movies and was mildly curious as to how it would all end. And now, it has ended and I won't have to see any more. I feel relief.
( out of four)
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence including disturbing images, some sensuality and partial nudity. The running time is 1 hour and 56 minutes.
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