film review: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (2012)1 Comment
It’s taken 4 years and 5 films but you know what? They finally made a Twilight film that’s genuinely decent. Yes that’s right folks…
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (brevity being apparently not that important to vampires) is worth watching.
Sorry about that.
But don’t worry, they’ll only take up a little over 8 hours of your life…
Back to the film at hand. I know, “worth watching” is practically high praise for a review of a Twilight Saga film. For all the money it’s made, over $1bn and counting, it’s not a franchise that has been blessed with good reviews. A quick look at Rotten Tomatoes shows that Twilight has never managed to break into “fresh” and display the coveted red tomato… though at 52%, Breaking Dawn 2 is the closest.
That said, personally I quite enjoyed small parts of the similarly verbosely titled The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (review). As I said in the review, it was fine. Not great, nor good, but fine. I also lamented the fact that we’d been forced to watch 4 films that could probably have been summed up as a pre-credit sequence to a good film. I stand by that now. I still think a lot of what we saw in the first 4 films was a waste of time. And Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is a good film. There I said it.
Principally, what sets this apart from the rest of the Twilight saga is that it’s no longer about the exceedingly tiresome love triangle of Bella, Edward and, off on the sidelines, Jacob. This is a massive improvement on the last 4. It’s allowed them to make a real blockbuster film, with plot, action, motivations and even… though you might blink and miss it… a little bit of acting. Don’t go mad looking for it though, you’ll only be disappointed.
Now that they’ve dispensed with the most painful and horrifing part of this tale of blood sucking vampires and flesh tearing werewolves, we can actually start to have a bit of fun. Director Bill Condon (he won an Oscar dontcherknow) snuck it in a little in the last film but in this he gets to use it as seasoning, peppering scenes all over the film with dialogue which is almost witty. Except for the Irish vampires. More on them anon.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is far more akin to an average action drama than a fantasy romance and thus a more vital film than the others. The action really does liven things up. While there’s nothing approaching the body horror of the birth of her daughter at the end of Part 1, it’s still surprisingly violent for what is essentially a fantasy romance series. I don’t really want to go into it – I’ll let you discover the gruesome delights for yourself – but let’s just say… I was pretty surprised when they tore that guy’s head off from the jaw up.
You think I’m kidding.
I’ll let that sit with you for a while.
Anyway, for all my good will towards this film, it still suffers some of the problems inherent in having… not the best cast going… and a relatively low budget for what they are trying to do.
On the budget first. The CGI is still, for the most part, terrible. I laughed out loud at the first major scene that features it. Of course, I’m eternally grateful that the wolves didn’t decide to sit around and have another chat… but it still looks crap. You can forgive a bit but all through the series the CG has been notable bad. There’s light praise here too though… They spent the cash when they absolutely had to. There’s a big CGI set piece in this and they pull out the stops for it. Phew. Disaster averted.
Acting-wise? Well, Kristen Stewart struggled to portray human emotion in the first 4… it’s unsurprising that she struggles with the vampiric as well. Fortunately with a cast that grows and grows as the film goes on (it’s part of the plot) she’s not called upon to do too much. Less fortunately the burgeoning cast means that our friend Taylor Lautner is also less called upon. I thought he showed some potential in the last film so it’s shame he doesn’t get a chance to build on that.
Then there’s the problem of that ever expanding cast. Or as I like to call it… The Irish Problem. Now perhaps this won’t be an issue anywhere else in the world… but I’m in Ireland and if you’re a UK reader there’s a chance there’ll be an Irish person in the cinema near you. The problem is, along the way these Irish vampires turn up. They are the most begorrah Irish anything you ever did see. I’m suprised they weren’t wearing “Póg mo thóin” t-shirts. Everybody laughed. Every time they appeared. It was as comical as it was distracting… but then again, this might not be a problem anywhere else. We’ll just park it there.
Back to Stewart. I do feel she creates the same problem in whole Twilight series that she did in Snow White and the Huntsman. She’s cast as a hero but she’s not up to the task… and with her unable to meet the demands of the scenes they have to shift focus, leaving the viewer confused about who they’re rooting for. But hey. She’s what we got. We can only imagine what might have been. I’ll park that there too.
There’s little else to say except that, in my view, this is by far the best Twilight film. If only because it’s barely a Twilight film. I particularly enjoyed their little trick here. If it weren’t for the lore you could probably watch this in isolation and be perfectly happy. There is a lot of lore though so I wouldn’t try what I’ve just suggested. At least read all the Wikipedia entries for the others first.
At the end of the day, Twilight is what it is*. A teen romance that got out of hand. By now you already know if you’re going to watch this last film or not… I just want to tell those afeared of being dragged along to yet another Twilight Saga film… fear not! All those hours of suffering will end on a high and the rest will just be memory.
* – did you see what I did there