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Friday, March 8, 2013

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II



For ten or so brief minutes, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II was one of the best films of 2012. Well, okay, not best, but the most cathartic. (Note definition 2 of 'cathartic.) It had all come down to this: assembled on a snowy field somewhere in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest were two armies. On one side, a battalion of "good" vampires led by the Cullen family and backed by a gathering of their now-good friends the werewolves. On the other, the evil Volturi, who have come to kill Renesmee [sic?] (No, that's actually how it's spelled, if you can believe that.), the half-human, half-vampire daughter of sucky-faced lovers maximus Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Swan) Cullen (Kristen Stewart). 

Renesmee's parents are now both vampires; Bella was turned by Edward as she died giving birth in the wretched and abominable Breaking Dawn Part I, a movie I'd have reviewed had it not broken my brain, my spirit and all my relative good will towards the Twilight Saga. But because she was born before Bella turned bloodsucker, Renesmee's existence as a halfbreed is a loophole that could save her life, if only the Volturi, who think she's a full underage vampire, which are the worst kind of vampires, would listen, and man, is this complicated and weird...

Anyway, the head Volturi (Michael Sheen in full poncy preening mode), seems open to testimony as to what exactly Renesmee is and why she, her parents, her parents' vampire family and friends, and their smelly puppy pals should live. He's not, really. The agenda is to kill them all, but the vampires all came a long way for this vampire prom and they're all keen to admire each other's outfits. Negotiations swiftly break down, vampire violence commences, and all of a sudden Breaking Dawn Part II gets good. Well, again, not good, but cathartic. Vampires fight kind of gay; they like to fling themselves into the air at each other, limbs and teeth and tongues flaring, but this time, they're fighting for keeps. By keeps, I mean heads. 

The vampires start decapitating each other left and right, and the body count is delightful. Beloved members of the Cullen clan like Carlisle (Peter Facinelli) and Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) and big name Volturi like Caius (Jamie Campbell Bower), Jane (Dakota Fanning) and Irina (Maggie Grace) all viciously and hilariously lose their heads. The wolves get in on the action and maul Volturi but also get put down with extreme prejudice. Already super strong and superfast, each vampire also has an extra superpower like mind control or Bella's newfound power to emit force fields. The word for this is overkill. As for Michael Sheen, he gets tag teamed by Bella and Edward, and not in a good way. All of a sudden, all of that misery, all of those deplorable hours of audience punishment known as the previous Twilight movies, had a ballsy, bloodthirsty payoff. And then, after all of that enjoyable slaughter... Breaking Dawn Part II revealed it had no teeth. It was all a dream! It's what could have happened. No, instead, the Volturi say peace out and go back to Italy. Weak! Totally, totally weak. Damn you, Twilight.

Breaking Dawn Part II picks up right on the heels of Part I: Bella is now a vampire like she wanted and plotted for all along. She's also a teen mom with a newborn halfbreed daughter who, in lieu of using an actual infant actor, the filmmakers rendered in creepy CGI. Renesmee somehow is some sort of telepath and grows incredibly rapidly: from 7 minutes old to 7 years old (played by Mackenzie Foy) in the span of a few weeks. In perhaps the grossest of all developments, noble werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) "imprinted" on infant Renesmee, "falling in love" with that thing and is now unable to leave her side. To her credit, Bella greeted this development with the appropriate amount of disgust. She also didn't like "Nessie", Jacob's nickname for her: "You named my daughter after the Loch Ness Monster?" Jacob transferred his Bella obsession in all the prior movies to her daughter, his future girlfriend and probably wife, and this is repulsive, let's move on.

The bellyaching in Breaking Dawn Part II revolves around what the Volturi will do when they find out about Renesmee, which happens rather quickly, though the Volturi take their time doing something about it (they must have all spent weeks shopping for fancy new Druid robes for their trip to Forks, Washington). The Cullens fear the Volturi will think Renesmee is a vampire who was made immortal as a child, because those are the worst kind of vampires, who don't age and mature. And yes, we all remember Kirsten Dunst in Interview with a Vampire so fair point, Volturi. The Cullens decide they need "Witnesses" to attest that Renesmee isn't a Dunst, so they set off to get their friends around the world to come down to Forks and fight the Volturi if need be. Straining the red eye contact lens budget, the Cullens recruit some Brazilian vampires, some African vampires, Irish vampires, and even a couple of dudes from Transylvania Jacob nicknamed Dracula 1 and 2. Lee Pace of Pushing Daisies gets to be a vampire. So does the evil nanny serial killer in The Following. This International House of Vampires surprisingly get along just fine with the werewolves. All of that vampire-werewolf muckety-muck is so New Moon, after all. But the United Colors of Vampire Bennaton do agree: they all hate the Italians.

Finally getting to become a vampire is what Kristen Stewart waited four years and four movies for and now we have irrefutable proof K-Stew had been holding back on us. Breaking Dawn Part II is Kristen Stewart Unchained and she runs, growls, leaps, snarls her way into deserving her Razzies for Worst Female Performance without question. Called upon to be angry, proud, feral, maternal, sexy, and heroic as the new nosferatu Bella Cullen, Stewart manages to be none of those things while still occupying the screen as some sort of identifiable matter. Not helping Stewart one bit is the cinematography, which lovingly photographs the wilderness of Washington State as well as all of the other actors, but seems to go out of its way to render Stewart's face as an eyesore. Much mockery has been made of Claire Danes' cry face on Homeland but Stewart's repeated "grrr, vampire angry face" is a meme-worthy sight to Share on social media. Vampire or no, Bella remains a black hole, a suck zone of fun and watchability. Her groan-inducing sex scenes with Edward are treated as a necessary evil the movie depicts and moves on from as quickly as possible.

Edward is no longer the bad boy he once was, completely pussy whipped by this point by his surly vampire bride. He's now the sexy vampire soccer dad of every tween's dreams. "Bella, I've had a bad habit of underestimating you," loverboy Cullen confesses. "Every obstacle that's been in your way, I didn't think you'd overcome." Wow. What a dreamboat. This guy is what the ladies have been fantasizing about all these years? Jacob fares slightly better, except no, he doesn't, because he's sniffing after their Dora the Explorer-watching-aged daughter. The best person in the movie is and always was Bella's father Charlie the Sheriff (Billy Burke), whom Bella lies to continually about her new red eyes and being dead and all. Charlie suspects, but also knows deep down, ah, fuck it. He's got his own show now. Revolution is a hit and on it, he's got another annoying teenage girl to deal with. He's okay not knowing about any of this vampire nonsense. Charlie is especially okay without Jacob stripping in front of him like Magic Mike and then turning into a werewolf in the movie's most hilariously uncomfortable moment.

The marriage between Bella and Edward and all the accoutrements that come with it are shiny, wish-fulfillment BS. The Cullens give Bella and Edward their own multi-million dollar country home deep in the woods, fully-furnished, complete with walk-in closets stocked with designer wardrobe. This is a ridiculous fantasy: two teenagers can get married, be parents, have all this luxury, wealth, and don't have to earn any of it. They have no responsibilities, they never need to work, they stay young and attractive eternally, they have a kid that they don't have to actually parent because it becomes a grown adult in 7 years and already found the doting mate pledged to take care of her and take her off their hands, and they can live happily ever after with superpowers forever. 

Ultimately, it was foolish to fall for Breaking Dawn Part II's okeydoke, to momentarily believe, no matter much you wanted to, that this saga would end with the cast of vampires we've watched for five movies decapitated and burning on an icy tundra. The Twilight Saga is and always was a sugar-in-the-eyes romance; it could only truly end the way it does: with Edward and Bella sitting on a flowery field pledging their eternal love for each other. "I have a present for you," Bella tells Edward, before telepathically showing him clips from the previous four Twilight movies, one last bit of navel-gazing from a couple who are unwilling and incapable of recognizing anything greater or more important in the world than themselves. In the final bit of navel-gazing, Breaking Dawn Part II then ends the Twilight Saga with an extended credits sequence for not just the cast of Part II but for every single person that has ever been in a Twilight movie.

But it's over. And with the conclusion of The Twilight Saga, we, the people of Earth living and still to be born, sincerely hope the unspoken promise of the end of this franchise holds true: No more Twilight movies.


Note: I rented and began watching Breaking Dawn Part II at 8:40pm. About an hour in, I blacked out. Next thing I knew, I woke up and it was 3:30am. Breaking Dawn Part II induced a total system shutdown.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II - It's Better than Ambien!