So yes, ladies and gents, it’s the final Twilight film. Well, at least until they work out some kind of Jacob/Renesmee trilogy later on – because money. To be honest, I’m a little bummed out. Having got on board with it late, I caught up with the Twi-phenomenon pretty early on, having only missed the first film in cinemas. Suddenly, all the previously baffling fangirl squeeing made sense. Whilst I have never truly rated a Twilight film (highest scoring so far is New Moon with an average three stars), it was a cultural milestone that I understood. I was “with it” for a while. But, to quote the great Grampa Simpson: “then they changed what “it” was. Now what I’m with isn’t it, and what’s “it” seems weird and scary to me.”
With no concessions for latecomers to the series, Part Two focuses on Bella (Kristen Stewart) adjusting to her newfound lease of death as a super-powered vampire. Bella, new hubby Edward (Robert Pattinson) and their daughter Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy) are trying to settle down as a family. Shape-shifting wolf lad Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) is still hanging around having “imprinted” on the Cullens’ daughter in the last film and being bonded to her for life. All is not well, as the vampire order, the Volturi, led by vampire elder Aro (Michael Sheen) are misinformed that Renesmee is an “immortal child” i.e. a child that has been turned into a vampire rather than the human/vampire hybrid she is. Since immortal children are against the Volturi code, Aro and his army of fanged fuckers start marching towards Cullen HQ with the sole purpose of executing Renesmee. With the last book split into two films because, y’know- money, Part Two feels pretty padded at times. The film basically covers the last third of the book where Bella is all fanged up and there’s not much of a story left to tell. Having not read the source Necronomicon, but glancing through the Wiki page, I can ascertain that the film deviates rather drastically from the novel. I’ll get back to that in a minute. I’m going to be talking some serious spoilers after the next paragraph, people. If you haven’t seen it yet and want to be surprised, skip the paragraph talking about the “tantalising deviation” after the next block of text.
Kristen Stewart cannot act. Being the kindest I can, all I can say is that she has a supremely limited range. I have not seen anything with her in to convince me otherwise. Here’s where the internet’s legion of white knights jump in and tell me to check out On the Road, the recent Jack Kerouac adaptation where Ms. Stewart gets to showcase her non-blockbuster side and has the room to properly act. I saw it and it was OK, but all it proved is that she’s even boring with her top off. She gives the same flat, wooden performance here that she has done throughout the series. Conversely, I think Pattinson really can act, having liked him a lot in Cosmopolis. He’s hampered here as zero-charisma Cullen. Talking of people who are boring with their top on, Taylor Lautner gives a OK curtain call as Jacob. As usual, Michael Sheen is the best thing in the film, with his Aro reaching new levels of Saturday morning villainy. There’s an amazing moment late in the film where he gives a creepy, ridiculous laugh that fucking killed at the cinema. It got a huge snort from me. Dakota Fanning doesn’t have much to do this time round, which is a shame as she’s great. She does get one very memorable scene that I won’t spoil for you though.
So- that tantalising deviation I teased you with. In the book, the Volturi march their way to Forks, meet the Cullens and their assembled army, have the Renesmee situation explained to them and then promptly bugger off back to Italy. The filmmakers knew the audience would have major cinematic blue balls if they had to sit through and hour and a bit of padded preparation for the Volturi battle only for the situation to be defused instantly. So we actually get a huge battle involving super-powered vampires and huge-ass werewolves. I shit you not, it is AWESOME. It’s schlocky and ludicrous, but boy, is it fun. It’s brutal as balls too, with heads being popped off with the gleeful abandon of a deranged child going to town on a bucket of Lego figures. Major characters get thoroughly merked and I had my mouth agape. Shit, this was brave. Sadly, it turns out to be a projection of a possible future by Alice (Ashley Greene), which is one step up from “it was all a dream”. It’s a sorely-needed injection of fun into an otherwise pretty drab flick. A couple more good things: for the first time in the series, the film has some stylish opening credits which are great. The dialogue isn’t as fist-gnashingly terrible as it has been in previous installments. Sure, I’m still not likely to get any lines chiselled onto my tombstone or tattooed on my neck, but it’s functional rather than outright embarrassing. In another first for the series, I believed Bella and Edward’s relationship was bordering on genuine love. Whilst the actors still have no chemistry with each other (even though they date in real life) it’s nice to see something approaching human emotion in the film. Plus, I even liked the sappy montage at the end. I know, I know- just snap a pink thong on me and ship me off to Fire Island.
Lavish credits aside, the film still looks as cheap as anything. This is a tentpole 2012 picture, released by a major studio, that has the privilege of being a current pop culture touchstone and having a built-in dedicated fanbase. They could have tarted things up a bit, but it still looks like an episode of Doctor Who. The effects are still as rough as a jar of dog arseholes and no effort has been made to improve them. Skyfall may have been accused of sucking the corporate cock a bit too often with all its product placement and “brand alignment” (a phrase that makes me want to fucking vomit) but at least the money’s all there on the screen. Breaking Dawn has plenty of its own products strategically placed and has at least 75% of Bond’s budget. That’s not to mention the fact that pretty much the entire soundtrack album (available wherever Goth girls dream) plays at arbitrary points during the film. Where is all this sodding money going? The CGI wolves still look terrible and some of the vampire whooshing effects are truly laughable. Part Two is the only film in the series where I’ve felt it has open contempt for its audience. It’s an unnecessary release for starters, but no effort has been made to make it considerably better in any way. Oh, and the name “Renesmee” is still a stutarded fartmanteau.
Part Two does retains some of the series’ trademark cringeworthy moments and baffling decisions.There’s a moment early on where Bella and Edward are getting busy. This being a PG-13/12A you can show heads being ripped off but not anything slightly saucy. Therefore, they had to get clever. To show Bella arriving at O City and not content with showing the perfectly acceptable “fist clenching the sheets” shot, they CGI in some sparks and golden mist around her head. It was HILARIOUS. Which I’m sure it wasn’t meant to be. They also do something creepy with the infant Renesmee where they’ve CGI’d the face for no apparent reason. It has a really distracting and unnerving effect like those reprehensible Evian ads that showed CGI rollerskating babies and was the direct cause of a huge wave of unprovoked civilian stabbings. CGI ain’t cheap, so why the living balls were they messing around with orgasm sparks and baby faces when they could be making the motherfucking plot-important wolves more convincing? Christ- I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.
I’m inclined to be kind to Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. I’d be a bare-faced liar if I said I didn’t enjoy it. Whilst it really isn’t saying much, I think it’s the best of the series or at least on par with my favourite, New Moon. I’m certain it pleased its audience. If I was entertained by it, they must be going mental in the multiplexes. I’m glad that Hollywood seems to have realised the potential of the tween audience and is prepared to put megabucks behind projects. The awesome Hunger Games probably wouldn’t have been made if it weren’t for Twilight leading the way. It’s just a shame that the series as a whole is a badly written, irony free experience. Girls deserve better than this and hopefully amongst the fucktillion projects tailored for the same audience greenlit in Twilight’s wake, there’ll be a few good ‘uns out there.
Release Date:16th November 2012
Directed By:Bill Condon
Cast:Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson , Taylor Lautner, Mackenzie Foy, Ashley Greene
This review was originally posted at The Popcorn Bucket