Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Twilight Saga Ascends to Mediocrity In “Breaking Dawn – Part 2”

Meet Renesmee, the needlessly CGI-enhanced baby.
Breaking Dawn – Part 2 marks the end of the five-movie Twilight saga, and, like its predecessors, the film features a slew of horrendous scenes, terrible effects and creepy implications. However, after the shaky first 30 minutes or so, it offers a satisfactory experience due to a welcome dose of forward momentum, legitimate conflict and a cool fight scene were a bunch of heads get ripped off.
This series has been an easy mark for criticism based simply on overt problems like awful CGI, wooden performances and angst-ridden dialogue, and all of these issues are present in this final installment. Running scenes, constant green screen sequences, and wolf effects continue to look cheesy, and the unfortunate decision to use CGI enhancement on the baby and child playing Renesmee, the rapidly aging spawn of Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart), results in some really weird sequences.
The dialogue and performances remain awfully stilted, especially during the opening scenes in which Bella first awakens to her vampire powers and feuds with Jacob (Taylor Lautner) over imprinting on Renesmee. Stewart has some talent, but even the most gifted of actresses would have trouble communicating believable rage while delivering a line like “Nessie? You nicknamed my daughter after the Loch Ness Monster!”
However, the major issue with this series so far has been the total lack of tangible content beyond the original film. It’s amazing to consider just how little happened in New Moon and Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn – Part 1 probably could’ve been condensed into about 45 minutes since so much of that movie was basically sitting around and waiting for a potentially dangerous birth to occur.
Breaking Dawn – Part 2 doesn’t suffer from this problem, because it poses a central threat (the Volturi are coming to kill Renesmee) and then builds toward it by competently embracing the familiar trope of many action films – bringing a team together. In an effort to survive, Edward and his family call on friends from around the world, and these scenes play like a poor-man's X-men (which, to be clear, plays better than a rich man's Twilight).The aforementioned fight scene is a whole lot of violent fun and far better than anything else in this entire series (even if it is a cheat), and the emotions play a bit better when there are real stakes as opposed to a annoying barrage of territorial bickering.
The best that can be said about the werewolf at this
point is that he's not exactly a pedophile.
Despite this improvement, Breaking Dawn – Part 2 actually ups the ick factor of the series. I’ve long taken issue with the fact that this is ultimately a love story between a 100-year-old man and a teenager, and this one compounds the creepiness by pairing Jacob with a child. The story tries to mitigate the grossness by implying he will dutifully wait until Renesmee “fully matures,” but that is revealed to occur at 7-years-old, so, yeah, creepy.
The three principles seem comfortable in their roles and fair better due to reduced angst, but it’s still Billy Burke as Bella’s father and Peter Facinelli as Edward’s “father” who least embarrass themselves among the regular cast. Michael Sheen and a nearly dialogue-free Dakota Fanning sufficiently suppress their talents as members of the Volturi, but, on a positive note, Lee Pace (fresh off a prime supporting role in Lincoln) provides ample charisma as a friend of the Cullens.

I’m glad this series is now in the rear-view mirror, mostly because of its terrible female role model but also because these films were just unrelenting black holes of awfulness. Still, in fairness, it’s worth noting some of the glaring issues facing the franchise were corrected in this finale, and they do have all the head ripping. Overall, Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is a pretty pedestrian effort, but given the bar set by this series, that’s an admirable accomplishment. C-