Monday, 26 November 2012

Movie Review: Breaking Dawn Part 2

Title: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2
Director: Bill Condon
Year Released: 2012
Running Time: 115 minutes
Classification: PG-13
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance

In the final instalment of the Twilight series, we say goodbye to Jacob's abs, Edward's sparkles and Bella's... Bella. At this point, no one's going into this film expecting cinematic brilliance, and indeed you'd be wasting your money if you had hoped this film would be “good”. For “fans”, of which I am one, Breaking Dawn Part 2 holds a number of delights/horrors; there's a big battle sequence, creepily CG'd Renesmee and Aro's laugh to look forward to. All in all, the quality here is fairly similar to the previous movies, and after four others, Breaking Dawn Part 2 gives us a sweet finish to the whole ordeal.

Breaking Dawn Part 1 (2011) ended with Bella (Kristen Stewart) being turned into a vampire by Edward (Robert Pattinson) after almost dying giving birth to human/vampire hybrid demon child Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy). We also saw Jacob (Taylor Lautner), the loser of the love triangle, “imprint” on Renesmee (kind of like falling in love, but without the creepiness, honest, because he'd never do anything like that at least not until she's legal).

In Breaking Dawn Part 2, Bella becomes an awesome vampire filled with awesome (and Kristen Stewart does look good in this movie, if you're into that), and then there's some stuff about not-telling her father, and some stuff. A vampire sees Renesmee and thinks she's a vampire, and since making children vampires is illegal, said vampire runs off to report the “crime” to the Volturi (powerful Italian vampires). As the Volturi are coming, the Cullen family recruit a bunch of X-men (only some of whom are racially stereotyped) to act as “witnesses” to prove their innocence.

The plot is pretty ridiculous and the first half or so of the movie is incredibly boring. It doesn't seem like anything is really happening, just a bunch of people standing around having conversations and it drags. Yet incredibly, it also feels rushed; we jump from scene to scene and Bella's narration is used to bridge them in a way that feels like lazy storytelling. At least the scenery looks good. I guess.

And then there's Renesmee.

(Now, there has been many an internet rant about the issues here, so I'll just stick to the movie problems.)

First, there's the whole skeevy imprinting thing mentioned above. Bella's outrage upon discovering it is pretty much token and it's the only objection that comes up in the movie (hey, it's what happens in the book). On the plus side, Jacob and Renesmee's relationship is never overtly depicted as “romantic”, unless you count the flash-fowards and some meaningful looks shared between the two that can so easily be (mis)interpreted (in my cinema, there were groans and awkward laughter during these moments, so there you go).

Second, Mackenzie Foy's face is CG'd on every actress that plays fast-growing Renesmee. And it's like.... why? Why would you do this? Why? It was creepy as hell, especially since it wasn't done very well (picture a CG-d face, semi-floating on another head, drifting slightly – just slightly – to give the impression of occasional no-chin and uncanny valley realness). Considering how well they CG'd Bella during her pregnancy and how people aren't idiots and can tell when a character is the same character despite changing actors, I just don't understand. On the plus side, it was so off-putting that it kept me awake throughout the sluggish first half.

The creepiness isn't helped by the fact that Renesmee has no discernible personality. I suppose this isn't really her fault: she doesn't really get to do anything and is often just in the background. The way she “communicates” - that is, by touching people and flashing images in their minds – comes across as some kind of brainwashing technique, and to me, she could've just as easily been an innocent child as an evil demonic creature in the guise of an innocent child. But hey, this made me enjoy the film more rather than less.

So things pick up in the last part, when the Cullens & co. confront the Volturi and their cronies. If you've read the book, you'll know how anticlimactic the climax is, and the movie manages to put a twist on it that is, dare I say, rather clever. Though it's not as epic as its soundtrack would lead you to believe, it is action-packed and unexpectedly violent. I was riveted the whole way through. It's easily the best part of the movie, barring Aro's strange laugh (see below), and for me it was totally worth watching the first half to get to this.

I can't see this movie being enjoyable for someone who isn't invested one way or another in the Twilight franchise. If you're not a fan, don't bother; if you are fan, you'll be seeing this film regardless of its reviews. Breaking Dawn Part 2 is arguably the best of the lot, but that's not saying too much. The story is what it is, the acting is so-so and the quality of the CG varies. Still, I was surprised by the whole battle sequence and I must admit that the movie overall was pretty entertaining, even if for the wrong reasons. It's certainly not a great series of films, but I couldn't help but feel a pang of nostalgia when the credits rolled, reminding us that non-Charlie humans once existed in the Twi-verse. And now, as the franchise comes to a close, everyone has the happy ending they were waiting for.

Alex's Rating: 3/5
(for non-fans, probably 2/5)

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