Director: Bill Condon
Stars: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
Plot: Following the birth of Renesmee, the Cullens join forces with other vampires to defend her from the Volturi, who believe she is an outlawed immortal child.
We left the Twilight series at the end of Breaking Dawn Part 1, awash with blood, screaming, a birth and an apparent death followed by a vampiric resurrection for our main protagonist, Bella Swan. Now that the transformation is complete, the second part of this instalment and the final film concentrates not only on Bella’s new-found strength and speed as part of the undead, but also her half-immortal daughter Renesmee’s status as the subject of a life-or-death showdown with the Volturi.
Having been brought back from the brink by Edward (Pattinson), who turned her into a vampire, Bella (Stewart) is now a fully fledged member of the Cullen clan and is getting to know her daughter Renesmee, who already appears to be fully aware of her surroundings and growing at an alarming rate. Bella explores the surrounding forest with Edward, learning how to hunt and practice her speed and agility, at one point having to subdue her insatiable taste for human blood when she spots a lone climber. Jacob (Lautner) appears at the Cullen’s house and tells Bella that he has ‘imprinted’ (inadvertently sworn to protect) Renesmee, something that Bella is not amused by. However, despite the smiles and seemingly idyllic situation they find themselves in, trouble is brewing on the horizon in the shape of the Volturi.
Whilst out on a walk in the woods with Renesmee, Bella sees Irina (Maggie Grace), a member of the neighbouring Denali coven, in the distance, who believes she has seen a vampire child – they had been wiped out and banned by the Volturi for their lack of obedience and their tendency to run riot. Irina visits Aro (Michael Sheen) in Italy to tell him that the Cullens have created a child vampire, which is seen as an offence punishable by death. Alice (Ashley Greene) has a premonition that danger is fast approaching and that the Cullens must summon help from their allies in the vampire world – she leaves without notice. Meanwhile, Carlisle (Peter Facinelli) gathers together foreign vampire clans from Brazil, Romania, Ireland and Egypt along with a few werewolves in an attempt to convince Aro that Renesmee is a half-immortal and avoid a devastating duel that would destroy the Cullen clan forever.
Breaking Dawn Part 2 offers much the same as Part 1 – lots of standing around, waiting for something to happen, with very little acting required. There are however, three major plot strands that should keep us interested. Bella’s transformation from human to vampire is arguably the most crucial – but sadly we only get a few token scenes of her and Edward running at high-speed through the forest with the obligatory over-the-top CGI we’ve come to expect. The startling development of Renesmee is next – a rather disturbing computer generated face is superimposed to give the impression the newborn is aware of her surroundings. Instead of feeling a sense of wonder, the overriding emotion conjures memories of the fantastically named Wilhelm von Homburg’s Vigo in Ghostbusters II, in which said ghost-in-painting tries to inhibit the body of a baby during a hilarious end-of-the-world plot, in which the 23-year-old special effects are more convincing. Finally, we have the obligatory battle between the Cullens (with friends) and the Volturi – if Harry Potter had a showdown with the nasally-challenged Lord Voldemort, then this is the Twilight version. True, the big finale is quite entertaining, but after much ripping-off of heads, any initial shock gives way to noticing the gaping flaws in the clunky CGI.
But enough of criticising a film series which is not really meant for anyone who isn’t a teenage girl – even though this demographic is far from exclusive. The filmmakers are in a difficult position – they have to satisfy the so-called Twi-hards and are not aiming their proverbial fangs at the necks of us mere mortals; and it has to be said they have succeeded in spades. Perhaps, based on plot, we should level criticism at Stephanie Meyer, whose four novels could easily have been condensed into three – but wouldn’t you want to maximise your income as a writer, even though quality maybe substituted somewhat for quantity? Having said that, the acting leaves much to be desired and the script is mostly composed of padding, but this is exactly what we’ve come to expect from the Twilight series. After a good start with the first film, which featured a great deal of mystery and intrigue – there has been a downward slide since then, although a slight recovery with this final instalment. It is however, difficult to appraise Breaking Dawn Part 2 on its merits as a film to be taken seriously, because it is completely without pretension – much better to advertise itself as a dreamy teenage vampire fantasy than go for broke and try too hard to be Oscar bait. The ending might be predictable and slightly nauseating, but it wraps everything up as you would expect.
Breaking Dawn Part 2 has a whole host of flaws as a film, including certain aspects that aren’t explained very well such as Jacob’s ‘imprinting’ on Renesmee, but you can’t deny that it does a particular job, even though it may not be the one you’d prefer. In many ways, BD Pt.2 is a microcosm of the series – brief flashes of entertainment, but ultimately unsatisfying unless you’ve assigned yourself a ‘team’. It’s not awful, although with more forethought the film adaptations could have been so, so much better.