Note: This was published in the print-only weekend supplement of The Marshall Independent. Last year I reviewed “Breaking Dawn, Part 1.”
I went to see “Breaking Dawn – Part 2” on the understanding that I’d have to go into Witness Protection if I panned it.
Well OK, not that bad.
So at the end of BD1, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), now Mrs. Edward Cullen after she and her vampire boyfriend Edward (Robert Pattinson) married and conceived a child.
Bella had an unusually difficult labor after a full-term pregnancy lasting a few weeks, gave birth to a daughter Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy), and was saved only at the last moment by being “turned” into a vampire.
The child and Native American werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), the third wheel in the Edward-Bella-Jacob love triangle imprinted on Renesmee, thus neatly resolving the triangle.
Fortunately Renesmee is healthy and a bit precocious. As in grows to be six or seven-year old sized in a month or two precocious. This is going to continue to full maturity, and stop, this isn’t a case of progeria. The good news is, Jacob isn’t going to have to wait too long to have a physically mature soul mate.
The bad news is, they attract the attention of the Volturi, a coven of vampires so wise and powerful they rule the vampire world from Volterra, Italy, a country not especially known for vampire folklore.
The vampire losers in the ancient wars of domination are Romanians (who somehow have Slavic accents), from the country most known for vampire legends. It also turns out there are Turkish vampires and Amazonian Indian vampires.
The Volturi it seems, are informed Renesmee is an immortal child, turned into a vampire by the classic method of being bitten by one.
OK this is pretty blatantly derivative of “Interview with the Vampire” but you’ve got to admit it’s pretty scary. Think of a child with superhuman strength, speed, and an uncontrollable thirst for blood throwing a tantrum.
Small wonder the Volturi condemn all such children to death. And for real chilling, you see the Volturi vampire Jane (Dakota Fanning) hardly out of childhood herself, casually tossing a child into a bonfire.
Alice Cullen (Ashley Green) whose special power is visions of the futures that might be, sees the Volturi on the march against the Cullen coven. The Cullens gather allies in an attempt to convince the Volturi that Renesmee is not an abomination, and for a battle if it comes to that. Jacob and the Quileute tribe of Native American werewolves join them.
Meantime Alice bugs out.
All this sets the scene for the final confrontation with the Volturi, led by Aro (Michael Sheen) who is a kinda cool villain. His villainy is of the smarmy sociopath kind who kills you with a sorrowful look of regret on his face. Sort of like that Italian organization The Black Hand, who used to apologize as they killed their victims.
BD2 has its moments. There are two moments of comic relief, though you’ll miss them if you blink.
When Jacob refer to Renesmee as “Nessie” Bella screams at him, “You nicknamed my daughter after the Loch Ness Monster!”
Before the confrontation with the Volturi, American Patriot and Revolutionary War veteran vampire Garrett (Lee Pace) turns to the lovely Slavic vampire Kate (Casey LaBow) with a profession of love.
“Woman, if we live through this I’ll never leave your side,” Garrett vows.
“Now you tell me,” Kate mutters.
So what’s right with this film? Other than the fact it’s over now I mean.
Visually, it’s beautiful. The scenery is stunning and the cinematography does it justice.
Makeup, some of these vampires are really weird-looking.
What’s wrong with it?
Edward and Bella have no on-screen chemistry. The skyrocket vampire sex that is too dangerous for humans seems nonetheless kind of tepid. Not like the sublimated sex in the old Hammer Films that terrified my adolescence.
And admit it, don’t you want to see it at least partly because Kristen Stewart wiped her nose on Robert Pattinson’s heart in public?
And what gives? Alice is way more beautiful than Bella, and Jacob way more masculine looking than Edward. And at the climactic scene, it turns out that Alice is the strongest, cleverest, most powerful of all. It makes you wonder why this is all about Edward and Bella at all.
The plot devices are derivative, not a sin in itself. The half-vampire child sired by a vampire on a human woman is right out of the Bloodrayne series, itself from a video gameThe ending is kind of a cheat, “And they all lived happily ever after” once saved by a gimmick the movies had not set up before, though the books might have.
If you’re a Twilight fan, you’ll love it to pieces. If you’re not, well it’s not terrible.