Twilight: more whimper than bang

JAMES CROOT
Last updated 07:30 15/11/2012

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REVIEW: The latest in the popular Twilight series opened at midnight in Christchurch. Press film reviewer James Croot was in the late-night audience.

TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN PART II

(M)

Directed by Bill Condon

2 1/2 stars

I Twi-d really hard to like this, but for me the cinematic adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's vampiric magnum mopus ends with more of a whimper than a bang.

To be fair the source material has to take the wolves' share of the blame, as after forays into Wuthering Heights and Romeo and Juliet in previous instalments, this one tries to channel The Merchant of Venice, but instead leaves one feeling more like quoting Macbeth: "A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" (thanks largely to one of the worst writing cop outs since Dallas decided it "needed'' a shower scene).

The man seeking his pound of flesh here is Volturi (a kind of vampire high council or church for those unfamiliar with Meyer's world) leader Aro (an extremely camp Michael Sheen). Word has reached him that not only has human Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) been turned, but that she and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) have had an immortal child, the latter something forbidden under vampiric lore.

The punishment is the destruction of the entire coven, something the Cullen clan are naturally enough keen to avoid, especially when the child in question is actually a hybrid, born not bitten and growing at an accelerated rate.

Gathering support from their relatives from around the globe, they seek to alter Aro's mind before it all ends in tears, but deep down they know a confrontation is inevitable - especially when clairvoyant Alice (Ashley Greene) has already predicted it.

Having somewhat successfully navigated the franchise through the choppy waters of Breaking Dawn Part I (with its dodgy talking CGI wolves, epilepsy inducing birth scenes and emaciated looking Stewart), director Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters) has to take on a completely different tone and style for Part II.

Here it's fantasy rather than horror - Lord of the Rings rather than Alien, as everything builds towards a final showdown.

Artful opening credits (all reds and blacks), varying film speeds and impressive vistas suggest something memorable, but all hope of portent and promise goes out the window early with the titter-inducing CGI-d baby Rensemee, an over-reliance on X-Men-esque special powers (why can't a vampire just be a vampire?) and the sudden desire of the filmmakers to cram as many songs into the first half an hour as possible (clearly someone realised this was the last chance to shift soundtracks).

This results in the story taking a long time to settle down, which it does quite effectively in the middle section before losing the plot as the characters lose their heads - Highlander style.

Even that would all be fine, but action scenes have never been a strong point of Twilight and here it just looks like the usual sci-fi/fantasy Star Trek-style wrestling match, only with extra blur to try and hide the unimpressive skills on show.

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Breaking Dawn? More like Breaking Down, as what started as interesting fantastical take on the traditional high school romance ends up with this bizarre mutant slugfest.

Rivalling the Alien franchise for its sheer cinematic schizophrenia between instalments, Twilight has been like a reverse Harry Potter with the quality dipping as it has progressed.

Breaking Dawn Part II certainly isn't the worst entry, that honour surely goes to the two-hour ab showcase that was Eclipse, but it's by no means the showstopping finale its followers would have wanted.

Surely they could have Twi-d a little harder to deliver substance with the undeniable spectacle.

- The Press

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