Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part Two (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
17Nov/122

Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part Two (2012)

By Jacob's abs that was a satisfying experience.

The Twilight Saga comes to a close with the back story of Bella Cullen (formerly Swan) fully told in four movies.  With Breaking Dawn - Part Two there's no more story on the horizon and whatever artistic credibility that could be salvaged from the series peaks here.  On that topic, director Bill Condon maintains the same sense of humor and beautiful visuals of part one.  But, more importantly, as a barn-burner this film had the crowd hooting, laughing, and not-so-silently weeping at all the right spots.

This is lurid entertainment done perfectly by a man who knows exactly where the series should have been four movies ago.  It will be an interesting experience to revisit these films someday and mark their transition from over-earnest representations of Stephanie Meyer's books to the comic-book like collection of powers and emotions seen in BD-PIICondon sends the series out not with grace but a delicious hunk of dripping red meat.

This, I think you'll agree, is appropriate given the story.

The hammy acting reaches critical mass in this film with Michael Sheen leading the way. He goes right to the edge of overdoing it then smiles lasciviously.

BD-PII picks up immediately after Bella's (Kristen Stewart) conversion at the climax of BD-PI.   Her body, no longer emaciated and ridden of that troublesome spine, has been filled out and made whole again.  She struggles to regain her composure and, dealing with her new senses, focuses on the one thing that she knows she can concentrate on.  Condon's photography juts her perception around the room to dust motes, ice, the edges of old books before finally, and slowly, going down Edward's (Robert Pattinson) body before arriving at his crotch - an area she is definitely able to focus her attention on.

Never let it be said that after four movies the characterization of these folks has not been strong and consistent.  Condon still plays the sexual tones of the series, long passed subtext and now just text, as a grand joke.  Bella finally gets her clothes ripping wish of a night of passion with Edward where Condon plays with out expectations of their sex, and Pattinson's unique physique, wonderfully.  Body parts come in and out of view and centers on what appears to be a bare breast when, in focus, turns out to be the satisfied brow of Edward losing himself to his wife.  That's a subtle joke, less subtle is when Jacob (Taylor Lautner) is trying to explain to Bella's father Charlie (Billy Burke) that Bella is alive and there are strange things on this earth.  So Jacob sets about to stripping, a long-time staple of the Twilight films, and just when he gets to his pants says, "This might get a little weird," right before turning into a werewolf.

Condon hits all the right emotional, exposition, and comedic notes so perfectly that this film should be held as a wonder of modern entertainment.  He even is able to make some of the more troubling aspects of the plot more palatable.  The worst off would be the imprinting of Jacob onto Bella and Edward's daughter Renesmee that happened at the end of BD-PI.  Now, the actual sight of seeing an adult romantically protective of a baby, even the half-vampire/human baby of an otherworldly coupling, would be troubling.  Condon solves this problem by making the baby just as fictional as the means of her birth and giving us one of the most obvious-CGI children ever.  By reversing the uncanny valley he tricks our brains into accepting the protection, even though we know what the eventual outcome will be.  Condon has the gift of making even the most troubling aspects palatable by wallowing in the excess and then making the visual representation just as fake as the events being presented.

The various powers the vampires developed have never been really explained in the movies but a suitable explanation finally develops and equals to "plot magic." That may annoy some, but I loved how they were willing to just go with it.

So while the first half is a deft exercise in melodramatic excess, the second is a comic-book explosion of action and emotion that puts any other released in the last few years to shame.  The Volturi, a cabal of Italian vampire who control all the tribes, hear of the Cullen's child they suspect it to be an immortal child.  To define, a vampire toddler unable to control their thirst and able to slaughter entire villages (the result of one we see in a flashback worthy of Monty Python.)  Their group is led by the wonderfully maniacal Aro (Michael Sheen,) whose tender caress is as sudden as his frequent squeals of joy before hurting someone.

All of this builds to a scene where the Cullen's have gathered an army of misfit vampires and werewolves to do battle with the Volturi.  The result is an action scene so fun and clear that it humbles similarly large brawls of the last few years.  Once again, Condon shows a deft hand at handling these scenes by staging our darkly clad heroes and villains on a freshly snowed-over frozen lake.  This automatically makes the figures easy to follow, but he continues by watching each figure into the ultimate consequence of their fighting without cutting away or using any rapid editing.  Condon forces the audience to accept the brutality of what is going on and by instilling it with the same great use of CGI as with the child, is able to get away with what is probably one of the most violent and elegant action scenes ever made.

I haven't had a cinema experience as thoroughly satisfying from top to bottom as BD-PII in a very long time.  For those uninitiated into the clan it's just visceral and funny enough to follow without needing to know a single thing about Teams or the horrific circumstances of Renesmee's birth.  The rest of us get a thoroughly satisfying finish to an uneven saga that hit the last lap hard.

Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part Two (2012)
Directed by Bill Condon.
Screenplay written by Stephanie Meyer and Melissa Rosenberg.
Starring Kristen Steward, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, and Michael Sheen.

Posted by Andrew

Comments (2) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Wow, you really liked this movie a lot! I am a fan of the series and this is almost gushier than I get 😉 This really was a fantastic way to end the series though and I left the theaters very satisfied with what they pulled off in the ending (nothing felt cheap to me.. besides the effects maybe).

    Until this movie came out I always felt like liking the Twilight movies was supposed to be such an embarrassment, but with BD2, all of these other movie bloggers seem to be coming out of the woodwork more than in the past saying they like it too.

    • Thank you very much for the comment Jess. I do see a more recent surge of support for this film that was lacking in the previous installments. Granted, a lot of it seems half-hearted or in the realm of “Well at least this isn’t a total embarassment” but there are still a lot more people unapologetically liking it this time around. I think that’s an interesting topic of study, but we’ll save that for another time.

      For the other films, I’ve been a proud supporter since the second (which was a bit ambling if gorgeous in spots) and the third which prompted Danny to wonder if I had developed Stockholm Syndrome (http://www.cantstopthemovies.com/2010/12/twilight-saga-eclipse-2010/). I look forward to revisiting them when I get the chance.


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