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Monday, November 26, 2012

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (Release Date: 11-16-2012)

        This is the end.

        My glittering friend, the end.

        It's hard to believe that teams Edward and Jacob, Bella Swan, and the mystical land of Forks, Washington have only been a part of the cinematic universe since 2008. After all, Stephanie Meyers' brood-a-thon love-triangle has already become so embedded in the fabric of popular culture that folks feel the need to declare themselves as either staunchly for or against it, as though Twilight was a political party. But those who stand firmly with their arms crossed and their brows furrowed are missing a key facet in the ongoing debate over the legitimacy of the saga: the fans know it's dumb, too. Not all of them, mind you, as the tear-streaked faces of tween America will ready attest, but a lot, lot more than any recent mega-franchise that comes to mind. Each installment I've seen in theaters has enjoyed a more-than-occasional soundtrack of irrepressible laughter, which, truth be told, is more than I can say about most comedies that I've watched over a similar period. Whatever the charm of Twilight really is, it obviously has loads of it for certain people, and the final chapter, Breaking Dawn Part 2, is yet another lip-biting, smolder-staring example of just that.

        There once was a girl named Bella Swan, who fell in love with... oh, screw it: either you know the backstory already, or you couldn't care less. If you somehow still want to avoid spoilers (who are you?), skip down to the next paragraph, because I'm diving right in. So, that Bella girl (Kristen Stewart); she's a vampire now, which means that she slouches less, and wears a lot cuter, more flatteringly-fitted clothing (she can also do that really cheesy thing where they zoom around the screen, sometimes with flowers and fireflies and other pretty things in her wake). She also has a beautiful baby girl with a name caught somewhere between a tongue-twister and a demonic moniker (Renesmee, pronounced Ren-Ez-May, and not to be chanted whilst in front of a mirror), and, of course, that pale stick-figure of hunkiness known as Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). But because the movie needs a plot, the even-whiter-and-decidedly-more-powerful/evil group of vamps known as the Volturi decides that they're kind of creeped out by little Renesmee, allegedly because of some immortality tripe, but probably because of that damn name. The Cullens are forced to flip through their globe-spanning rolodex to find and recruit other blood-suckers for a climactic throw-down, while the warm-blooded hunk of man meat (Taylor Lautner) scours the woods for some furry, four-legged help. Why would the scorned Jacob help them, you ask? Well, because he's toootally got the hots for Renesmee. Yeah... yeah.

        Talking about the technical elements of a Twilight movie is kind of like discussing the nutritional value of the fruit in an apple or cherry pie; that's not why you're really here, is it? Ever since laying eyes on the series starter, I've looked forward to each year's dollop of gooey super-natural romance as an annual comedy mainstay, and the closer doesn't even think about disappointing. Robotic dialogue is delivered, amorous eyes are made, a truly surprising amount of blood is spilt, and Lautner still just hates those damn shirts! Director Bill Condon, who seemed content to be buried underneath a torrent of uneventful silliness in Breaking Dawn's first half, shows an obvious relish for pushing the PG-13 line. He places an impressively steamy sex scene near the film's opening frames, and slaps moderation right in the face with seemingly endless reiterations of his favorite kill move (who knew that super-humans had such flimsy necks?). Knee slappers positively abound, from the early sequences of girl-you-need-to-eat-something Stewart taking down body-builders and big cats, to some jaw-droppingly, gut-bustingly racially insensitive portrayals of coffin-dwellers 'round the world. I don't really know how good to say Breaking Dawn Part 2 is, but I can tell you that I had a lot, lot more fun watching it than I do most movies, and if you don't want to see Dakota Fanning's head get yanked right off, I'm not sure that we can be friends.

Grade: B+

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