Slow death – The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 review

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 – Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner. Directed by Bill Condon. Rated M. By Simon Miraudo.

And stay dead! If any event necessitated a Return of the Jedi style Ewok orgy, it’s the staking of the abysmal Twilight Saga. Director Bill Condon wraps up the final book of Stephenie Meyer’s series, Breaking Dawn, with a second part so tedious and infuriating, it might secretly be an experiment akin to Michael Haneke’s Funny Games. At one key moment, the remote control is practically picked up and the events that have transpired rewound and undone, just as in that movie. If only we could go back to before the first Twilight began and save ourselves the misery.

Breaking Dawn Part 2 picks up with Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) recalled from the brink of death by her undead husband Edward (Robert Pattinson), following the tumultuous birthing of their baby Renesmee. The price, however, of Bella’s salvation is immortality. Now a vampire just like her love and his creepy, creepy Cullen family, Bella must come to terms with no longer eating food, sleeping, or ever being tired of sex (don’t get too excited; there’s one sex scene and it’s about as titillating as a tickling competition with your grandmother). Her thirst for blood is muted, and she defies her new peoples’ laws by not cutting ties with her still-human father (Billy Burke), because, you know, these are the least interesting elements of vampiric lore, apparently. Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg instead spends more time showing us how they sparkle in the sunlight, perhaps as one last tribute to how little the Twilights have cared for dramatic tension.

Within weeks, the “half mortal, half immortal” (huh?) Renesmee evolves from a baby to a ten-year-old, which is great for lovelorn lycanthrope Jacob (Taylor Lautner). He ‘imprinted’ on the bub and is devoted to taking care of her for the rest of his life. If you were wondering how Condon got around the deeply unsettling nature of a full-grown man acting as a fatherly guardian to a child whilst waiting for her to grow into an appropriately-aged sexual partner, he doesn’t. Boy, is it weird. Why does no one consider Renesmee might not even want to be with Jacob when she grows up? Maybe they’re too distracted by those nefarious vamp lawmakers, the Volturi – led by the maniacal Michael Sheen – who get wind of Bella and Edward’s ungodly creation and decide to take them out. The Cullens request the help of their pals from around the world to “witness” wonderful Renesmee as a means of defending themselves, and we all sit around and wonder how in the world this became such a pop-culture sensation.

Young Mackenzie Foy portrays Renesmee, and from the looks of it, her face has been superimposed on the actors playing baby Renesmee and adult Renesmee; visuals so chilling I will surely carry them to my grave. It’s just one clunky special effect in a sea of them, sadly. It all looks so cheap and shoddy, which would be forgivable if we ever believed the characters inhabiting the frame were living within it believably, or emoting in a manner that even remotely mirrored real interaction. Of the primary leads, Robert Pattinson has shockingly emerged as the most talented, thanks to some choice roles outside of this sorry universe. Trapped within the confines of Edward Cullen, he remains a drag. Stewart’s still a dull cipher. Lautner – poor Lautner – has to lust after an infant and is absent entirely in the third act, replaced by his wolf counterpart. But yeah, he’s no good either. Twilight even makes fools of the professionals. Condon’s grasp of visual language seems to have decayed, so inept are the compositions and transitions in the first act. Even Carter Burwell’s score – a rare highlight in the predecessor – leans more towards the inanely melodramatic than the melancholic here.

None of these criticisms are particularly fresh for the saga, yet this entry is unequivocally the worst of the lot. If you were wondering, I would declare New Moon the best (though “best” is a relative term), because it was primarily concerned with Bella and Jacob hanging out, and they seemed to genuinely enjoy one another’s company. Also, Anna Kendrick had a couple of funny scenes in it. She’s absent from Breaking Dawn Part 2, a portent of doom if ever there was one.

Part 2’s greatest transgression lies in the concluding showdown between the Cullen army and the Volturi. At first, I was impressed such sacrifices were being made and so many characters were being decapitated (twelve, by my count) in the heads’a’poppin’ melee. “They’re going for it, and that should count for something,” I wearily acquiesced. Not for long! We’re instead treated to the biggest cinematic cheat of recent memory, in which Condon gets to have his cake, eat it, and shove the leftovers in all of our faces. It only exemplifies how desperate these features have been to please fans with cursory nods and a total lack of bold decision making, rather than honouring them with solid, standalone pictures. As a result, the final instalment of a five-film franchise has all the emotional weight and impact of an episode of Entourage.

No other series has made me consider our transient time on Earth and humanity’s impermanence than this one, not thanks to any thematic resonance or filmmaking craft, but the sheer loss of ten hours to it. Ten hours. That seems… short. Did it all just amount to ten measly hours? If we’ve learnt anything from Bella and Edward’s whirlwind romance, or the speedy growth of their daughter Renesmee, moments can sometimes feel like lifetimes. Being subjected to this quintet has certainly felt more like the latter. There is so much about these flicks to detest, that, in honour of the endless credit sequence in which any actor that so much as farted near the set is given their farewell, I will list some of my favourite keywords from previous reviews of Twlight, New Moon, and Eclipse: “impotent,” “anti-feminist,” “hateful,” “jean-shorts.” That sums it up, really.


Check out Simon Miraudo’s other reviews here.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is now showing in Australian cinemas.

One Response to “Slow death – The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 review”

  1. First of all, you are so wrong. Part two really had me on the edge of my seat. You need to remember that younger people will see this film, so they have to make it less raunchy. But I loved it still and so did all the people that were in the same room as me. Just great work to everybody who made the saga possible. Wishing and hoping for some oscar nominations. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed. Dedicated fan forever.

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