DIRECTOR: Bill Condon
Absolutely Contains Spoilers!
Where to start with this, the final chapter of one of cinemas most hyped and overly influential franchises. It all started back in 2008 with Twilight (2008), an adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s novel, following Bella Swan, a withdrawn teenage girl and her romance with vampire Edward Cullen. She was soon adopted as a pet for all intents and purposes and the angsty and gothic relationship was set for the course of a further four films, with the last book, number 4 following the route laid out by Harry Potter and being split into two parts.
The first part, Breaking Dawn Part 1, was well, less than satisfactory, with me at least, and the latest in the long line of directors to take up the project, Bill Condon treating this in a very cynical and matter a fact way. He sacrified any real artistic integrity and did away with many of the inconveniences which had been set up in the previous three outings, such as the ‘sparkling’ in sunlight, which makes a brief appearances here, possibly to make up for its blatant absence in the last film, as well as their pale completions.
Here, we take up directly where we left off with Part 1. Bella is now a vampire and her and Edward’s child, a girl named Renesmee, is now safe and growing at an exponential rate. I’m not sure what it was, by the baby looked weird, and I can only assume that some serious CGI was added to make this work, but it just looked as freaky as her stupid name sounds. But as the child gets older, the young actress who portrays her throughout most of the film is pretty decent, in fact offering more charisma than our leading lady.
Condon opens the film with a fast paced credit sequence, doing away with any mood building in order to get straight to the story, seemingly believing that the teenage audience will have better things to do than see a real film, instead trading on the idea that brevity is the way forward.
The film just seems to jump from one tick box to the next and to me, this was at the cost of the pacing. On a plus note, it was nice to see Carter Burwell’s return to the series, with Breaking Dawn part 1, bringing with him the original themes to his compositions and nod to the indie roots of the franchise.
So, as Bella begins her new existence as a vampire, the first thing you’ll notice is a further disregard of the franchises set up, with this experiences Edward proclaimed would be painful and difficult for the first few months as she tamed her uncontrollable thirst and that it would be like a living, or dying hell, seems to be easy. It is explained that she has a remarkable and bloody convenient level of self-control but that’s just yet another cop-out!
Her gift is that she has the ability to shield herself and in time, others from danger. This was apparently alluded too throughout the series, as no vampires could read her mind and this seems to also be a factor in her ease of transformation. And when they cop-out again and basically tell without telling her father of her change, meaning that we have a happy ending here where he doesn’t have to believe that his daughter is dead, is equally annoying. personally, I would have gone all gothic and had her eat her dad, but that’s just me.
Does anybody else think that Joss Whedon should have been making these films?
Major cop-out number three: Jacob’s (Taylor Lautner) sudden change of heart. After four films of hating Edward and wanting him dead just so that he can have Bella, has all being erased. Now, after he has creepily bonded with Bella’s baby daughter, something which is normally reserved for monogamous wolf relationships, (interpret for yourself) is now Renesmee’s life long and loyal protector and is no longer interested in Bella or Edward in the slightest! So what was the point of the previous fours films worth of angst?!
But I can see why he might have gone off her, because Bella, who has now moved in to a cottage down the road, which instead of looking like something which you would find in Seattle, you’re more likely to find in the Cornwall, which is also decorated like something out of a catalogue, has become incredibly hammy and even less convincing than usual. Lets face it, Kristen Stewart is hardly the best actress in the world and for this franchise to rely on her convincing performances in risky at best and I would assume that in time, now the hype is dying down, her casting will ruin this franchise’s lasting legacy.
Would anyone like to have seen Dakota Fanning as Bella? Just putting it out there, because even though throughout this series, she does very little besides stare at people, she was at least a decent child actress capable of emoting in ways that Stewart could only dream of. Panic Room (2003) anybody?
Breaking Dawn Part 2 did open up the story to usual cliché’s of an epic finale, in this case, enlisting the help of other vamps to fight the Voltury, the long running leaders and overarching villains of Twilight, who have come believe that Bella and Edward’s child is a forbidden vampire and the entire family is to be executed for their crimes. Enter Michael Sheen, the comical highlight of the saga so far.
He is their leader and plays this camp vampire role perfectly, lapping it up like the freshly drawn blood from his victims jugular. But as for the vampires who help the Cullens, each has a power of their own but some are just incredibly stereotypical, such as the Irish Vampires, who seem to have come straight out of Dublin from the Potato Famine. I was struggling to contain myself every time that they were on the screen!
But then we get to big battle, the staple on any franchise’s last hurrah. But seriously, how did we get to this from the tree jumping, moody indie roots of Twilight (2008)?
*** MAJOR SPOILER ALERT! ***
The battle breaks out, leading characters from all sides and slain and finally, I’m exited. Finally, after four and half films, people are dying and thing are actually happening with consequences to actions being realised. Only for Bobby Ewing to step out of the shower because it was all a vision of what could happen in Michael Sheen was to pursue this fight…
I dropped my drink with the most crushing disappointment that I have ever experienced in my entire movie going life! Finally, I was watching the redemption of The Twilight Saga only for it hit the reset button mid-film and destroy any chance of these having any real integrity. I will admit that since no such battle takes place in the book, it’s a crafty way of having your cake an eating it, but this was terrible! But it will no doubt stand as one of the most memorable moments in my film viewing life, as my reaction was one of shock.
*** END OF MAJOR SPOILER!!! ***
Still, it’s a cracking and unexpected twist, regardless of whether you like it or not. But in the end, everyone is well, happy and no-one needs to die today. We get our satisfaction in that brief moment as the evil doers get their respective comeuppance, but in the end, even they get away scott free. The reason? Mis-marketing. Twilight is a gothic romance, not a blockbuster. It’s a small tale of some small and insignificant people and vampires trying to make the best of their respective lots.
But Hollywood have tried to make it something else and in doing so, have destroyed the true spirit of the source material. Mis-casting Stewart and having a different director each time, with the exception of the final two parter was another mistake. And having Condon finish it off, since he has ZERO respect for what has come before was as bad a choice as Stewart!
The story and the heart of it are fine. It’s a romance and the story line plays well but the screenplays do not. They are shoddily composed messes, ticking boxes over any artistic integrity, with the exception of the first two, with New Moon (2009) failing to win the Twilight fans over as much as it did for me.
It’s all over now and it’s been an interesting four years of cinema, but I’m glad to see the back of it. Twilight has never wowed me, but it has had its moments and overall they are quite good, with the exception of Breaking Dawn Part 1 which was utter tosh! The acting was never showcased here though and I feel that there are many decent actors who can go on to be recognised for better things than this, especially Robert Pattinson (Edward) and Taylor Lautner (Jacob) who both have something about them, with Lautner standing head and shoulders above everyone else in this cast. If only he could keep his shirt on!
As for Kristen Stewart, I will be very surprised if we ever see her in anything major or successful again after Twilight. She’s an indie chick and will no doubt find work in that genre but a mainstream leading lady, she is not.