A New Day, by Sarah Brinks
The truth is that people who are going to go see Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 are going to go see it no matter what I say in this review. I will say this to the significant others, husbands, and OkCupid dates that will be dragged along; it’s not the worst of the Twilight Saga films.
Breaking Dawn Part 2 is considerably better then Breaking Dawn Part 1 for a variety of reasons. The pacing of Breaking Dawn Part 2 is considerably better then the glacially paced Part 1. It also has a sense of humor that has been lacking in the other films. In this film you get to see Robert Pattinson actually smile throughout the film as opposed to constipatedly-grimacing the whole time. Since Bella is finally a vampire everyone is a lot less mopey and sullen. There are moments of genuine levity. Enjoy the “wolfing out” scene between Charlie and Jacob; that is all I will say. Director Bill Condon and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg, seem to have made the smart decision in Part 2 to not over explain the details of the story. They just plows through the big plot points to get to the battle scene at the end.
Breaking Dawn Part 2 benefits from the story introducing a group of new characters who are well cast. The Cullen’s gather their friends from around the world and even though the actors are given little to do they bring commitment to their roles and add something to the story. Most importantly Breaking Dawn Part 2 has Michael Sheen. Sheen was introduced in the second film and was a stand out character in the Twilight Saga movies. He was the one character that had a different tone from all the other characters and was also the one actor who seemed to really get the movie that he was in. Sheen in Breaking Dawn Part 2 continues to make a meal of the scenery, flourishing his cape and smiling evilly at every opportunity. He is a joy to behold every time he is on screen and is hands down the best part of the movie.
There were some other performances in the film that I really enjoyed. Billy Burke (and his mustache) continues to be the only person in the films who really acts like a human and is often the comedic relief. Burke was consistently my favorite part of the previous films and he continues to deliver in his few scenes in Part 2. Lee Pace shows up about half way through the film as the vampire Garrett. He is a little over top but in a welcome way. His bravado and glee at being a vampire makes the rest of the vampires look a little ridiculous for always being so serious and brooding all the time. Another welcome addition to the vampires is Rami Malek who plays Benjamin an Egyptian vampire that can control the elements. He doesn’t get a lot to do, but he brings an interesting energy to the screen. The rest of the vampires basically look like a motley crew of supermodel weirdos with bad contacts and soft lighting.
All that being said, we are still talking about a Twilight movie. Kristen Stewart twitches her way through the whole film never once being believable as a immortal killing machine or as a mother. Pattinson has some life in this film but still doesn’t bring much to the screen. You never really feel that Edward, Bella, and Remesmee (yes the baby is named Renesmee, it is the worst!) are a family. One unforgivable hurdle in the film is that they computer generate the baby. They also CG the faces of the actress that play young Remesmee as she grows. I would have been perfectly happy with a baby and little girls that look similar to the final actress they used as opposed to having to sit through a creepy computer animated baby (honestly it is really disturbing and completely unbelievable). Mackenzie Foy who plays the final version of Renesmee seems to have gone to the “Kristen Stewart School of Acting” where all she does is look blankly in to the lens and occasionally regurgitates her lines in a way that simulates human emotion.
I know Twilight is aimed at tweens, but for a film about vampires there is next to no blood. I am not asking for Tarantino level violence, but in a vampire movie you expect to see some red on the screen. The only scene in the movie that actually has any blood is a flashback of a three year old baby vampire with some blood on his face after he laid waste to a village. The big battle scene in the end has some disturbing imagery in it but since no one ever bleeds it keeps the violence very distant and cartoony. The battle scene is also not helped by the excessive Matrix-style flying/fighting. There has been little consistency in the way the action has been shot in the Twilight Saga; most likely because each film had a different director. I think it was most successful in Eclipse, but even then it was pretty ridiculous. The fast running has always looked absurd. The wolves are clearly CG and never have any real weight too them. And the physics of the vampires varied film to film. The fighting in the battle is intense and there were many concerned gasps from the audience around me, but it was also sometimes laugh out loud funny. I think if they had toned down the “vampires are like stone” aspect and made it just a little bit more real it could have been a very effective battle scene.
You already know if you want to go see Breaking Dawn Part 2. Overall it is tween fodder with little to recommend itself to the discerning adult, but Breaking Dawn Part 2 does have a satisfying ending and wraps up the Twilight Saga well. Overall this might be the best installment just because it is the least mopey (oh, and Michael Sheen has a cape).