REVIEW: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2. Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson. Directed by Bill Condon. M.
Above all else, Breaking Dawn Part 2, the final film in the Twilight saga, is true to its essence: It's the culmination of a teenage love story that has spanned repressed desire, unrequited love, obsession, sacrifice and undying commitment from love at first sight to love eternal.
It was a Romeo-and-Juliet story of taboo love between a vampire guy and a human girl - although in that sense, more like Angel and Buffy (or Sookie and Bill in TV's True Blood). It's been filled with alienation and angst, lust and abstinence, passion and peril.
For a while, this hormonal gothic fantasy/romantic melodrama developed a simmering love triangle between sullen Bella (Kristen Stewart), brooding Edward (Robert Pattinson) and hunky werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner).
Even though fans formed team support for the two suitors, the story was always - as in forever - going to be about Bella and Edward.
Based on Stephenie Meyer's best-selling four novels, the film adaptations were primarily aimed at tremulous pubescent and adolescent girls, while also seducing older females. The lads had to be satisfied with occasional threats and action encounters featuring cheesy special effects.
The problem for the film series is that longing looks and restless yearning can soon become dull - and here, it may be best if hardcore Twilight fans read no further.
Breaking Dawn Part 1 saw Bella and Edward marry and consummate their love, with Bella becoming pregnant and, to save her life in childbirth, becoming a vampire. Except for spellbound Twi-hards, it was insufferable to watch - but this at least meant Part 2 had to be better.
It is, but not by much. It continues in the same vein as Part 1, with newlydead, red-eyed Bella learning to control her blood thirst, coming to terms with her superhuman speed and strength, being part of the Cullen family, and coping with Jacob having imprinted himself on her CGI baby Renesmee, meaning he's now her guardian and future lover.
The story, though, has no momentum - and drags as it dawdles about. After an increasingly humdrum first hour, an underlying theme (fear of the unknown) and threat materialises: The vampire ruling council called the Volturi fears that Renesmee is a dangerous immortal child, and wants her and the Cullen family dead.
To persuade the Volturi that the child is not immortal, the Cullen family summon vampires from around the world as witnesses to Renesmee's true nature - with the film choppily transforming into a vampire version of X-Men, with each vampire having his or her own special power (Bella's undeveloped one is shielding others).
Blame greed partly for the monotony of Part 2, as Meyer's final book was mercilessly made into two movies to reap as much money from the franchise as possible - but in doing so, it stretched the story out to boring lengths, mostly filled with besotted and smouldering gazes, dreamy or entranced looks, soulless solemnity, pouting, sighing, kissing and PG sex (the M classification is for bloodless beheadings).
With few exceptions, the cast is often reduced to standing around and watching while Stewart and Pattinson are locked in place with little opportunity to act (which may be just as well). Lautner's big moment, going by the audience reaction, is removing his shirt to show off his buffed pecs and abs.
The scene-stealer is Michael Sheen, who gleefully overacts - compensating for the underacting around him - as the devilishly malevolent Volturi head Aro.
But Part 2 has a late surprise when it suddenly delivers a climactic confrontation that is different, with Meyer's approval, from the book. For 10 minutes or so, the movie becomes arresting and exciting, before a big deflating twist causes the kind of groan-laugh not heard since Bobby's resurrection in the TV series Dallas.
No doubt, Twi-hards will leave Breaking Dawn Part 2 ready to see it again - and buy the boxed DVD set that is bound to go on sale. For the rest of us, the best thing about the movie has to be that it's the end of it all.
How Nelson Mail movie reviewer David Manning rated the first four films in the Twilight franchise:
Twilight ★★★ 1/2 Directed by Catherine Hardwicke. A promising start and blend of ardour and action.
New Moon ★★ Directed by Chris Weitz. Maudlin mush and melodramatic soap that mistakenly sidelines Edward.
Eclipse ★★★ Directed by David Slade. Resuscitates the series, and more entertaining than expected.
Breaking Dawn Part 1 ★ Directed by Bill Condon. A tedious treacle-and-tripe teenage chick flick that's plodding, boring and impotent.
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