The birth of Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and Edward Cullen’s (Robert Pattinson) child Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy) causes great chaos, the Volturi, led by power-mad Aro (Michael Sheen), on their way to Forks to wreck unspeakable havoc.
Here’s what I wrote about this title in my original theatrical review:
“The great thing about The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part II is that it does bring closure to these cinematic adaptations of author Stephenie Meyer’s freakishly popular series of novels revolving around a pouty vampire and the teenage vixen he inexplicably falls in love with. The overblown and overlong courtship, and eventual union, of undead Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and Forks, WA resident Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) comes to something of an end, and while the folks at Summit Entertainment do leave the door ajar for more adventures it’s doubtful any of them would end up involving them (at least as protagonists).
Are there other great things about this last installment in the series? Actually, there are, not the least of which is a climactic battle between the Cullens, a bunch of their vampire brethren and Jacob Black’s (Taylor Lautner) pack of werewolves against the seemingly unstoppable Volturi led by the power-mad Aro (Michael Sheen). It’s borderline spectacular, returning director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, Gods and Monsters) pulling out all the stops producing slam-bang head-ripping (quite literally at times) finale that’s easily the best single moment or sequence this entire series of films has ever offered.
Still, much like its predecessors (especially last year’s first installment of Breaking Dawn), this conclusion to The Twilight Saga isn’t exactly good. Meyer’s story is as wet behind the ears as it has ever been, and while screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg (Step Up, “Dexter”) once again does her best to make the most out of it the soggy nature of this maudlin romance can’t help but do her and everyone else in at seemingly every turn. For a series that has been as freakishly popular as this one has been (over $2.5-billion worldwide and counting) even fans tend to consider each film something of an embarrassing guilty pleasure and nothing more. This has been arguably the most insufferable big budget high-profile franchise in all of Hollywood history, its success somewhat baffling and sure to debated and discussed for numerous years to come.
For those out of the loop, when we last left Edward and Bella she had just died giving birth to their baby girl Renesmee, reborn has his vampiric bride just as she’d always (at least throughout High School) wanted. Complications arise, not the least of which is the fact Jacob has imprinted on their rapidly growing girl, vowing to be her wolfy protector no matter what sort of threat might arise. There’s also the job of introducing her to Bella’s concerned dad Charlie (Billy Burke), doing so without letting on his daughter is now an undead immortal and his granddaughter is nothing less than a human-vampire hybrid.
That threat ends up coming in the form of the Volturi. When a relative of the Cullens, Irina (Maggie Grace) of the Denali Coven, inadvertently mistakes Renesmee as an immortal child (apparently a big no-no) she sets off a chain of events that could lead to war between the vampire clans. Sensing things are about to go from bad to worse to absolutely untenable thanks to the all-seeing Alice (Ashley Greene), Cullen patriarch Carlisle (Peter Facinelli) instructs his family to scour the globe for supporters who can witness Renesmee for the miracle that she is hopefully subverting a war they have little chance of surviving.
It’s as silly as it sounds, but unlike a single one of its predecessors something is actually happening in this second chapter of Breaking Dawn, a real threat for Bella, Edward and Jacob to overcome. More than that, our heroine is no longer a passive creature standing around moping, waiting for her beloved to transform her into his undead paramour. She has energy and she showcases emotion. More than that, it took the darn girl dying for her to suddenly exhibit a bit of life, and for the first time in the entire series Stewart is actually asked to do something of interest.
But showcasing once again just how derivative Meyer’s stories are, the whole thing borrows liberally from other sources most notably, of all things, Bryan Singer’s first two X-Men movies (and the comic book mythology they were obviously sourced from). You see, vampires all have their own specialized super powers, each one unique giving them something of an edge when in combat. So, instead of a bunch demons and werewolves ripping one another into shreds (which, admittedly, there is plenty of) we get a battle featuring the Justice League versus the Legion of Doom, everyone using their abilities to decapitate their foe with as much carnivorous fury as possible.
If this series does continue (heaven forbid), my guess is that it will involve some of the secondary vampires we’re introduced to in the lead-up to the big, bad finale. Newcomers like Revolutionary War veteran Garrett (Lee Pace), Irina’s Denali sisters Kate (Casey LaBow) and Tanya (MyAnna Buring), mysterious European wanderer Alistair (Joe Anderson) and Romanian warmongers Stefan (Guri Weinberg) and Vladimir (Noel Fisher), each of whom adds a bit of spunk and flair to the proceedings adding a sense of jovial mystery the films have lacked up until now. There’s also the obvious chance that young Renesmee (played for the majority of the movie by Mackenzie Foy) will take over as lead, subsequent adventures more than likely revolving around her relationship with Jacob which, let’s be honest, truly is as creepy and as unsettling as it sounds.
But this movie, this enterprise, does it stand apart from the previous efforts? Is it the one that’s actually worthwhile? Sure, in its way it is, and even though it’s not really a standalone motion picture, it really should be edited together with Breaking Dawn – Part I and released as a single three-hour (there’s a lot of filler in both halves that could be chopped with no continuity issues whatsoever), I can’t say there wasn’t any fun to be found here. While I could have done without the annoying ‘twist’ that wraps the entire five-film anthology with a shiny red bow and makes it all okay, that final fight in and of itself truly is a thing of beauty.
Yet I feel like I’m exulting Breaking Dawn – Part II with faint praise, because the elements damning it have been present since director Catherine Hardwicke’s initial installment. As a movie, as a singular story, this monstrosity is as cheesy and as melodramatic as it has ever been, and in the cold light of day I still can’t say I find Bella to be a particularly great role model for young women and I’d be uncomfortable if in the future my three young nieces (the oldest just started kindergarten, so I have plenty of years to wait) were to discover these films and want to be just like her. While steps in the right direction are made it all feels much too little and way too late, this saga of undead romance as emotionally soapy now as it ever was when Meyer’s first book hit the best seller list.”
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part II is the best of the Twilight films. Not sure there’s a ton more to say than that as, seriously, that’s all Twi-hards are going to want to hear and, as for the rest of us, we’re just happy it’s all finally come to an end.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part II is presented on a dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 2.40:1 1080p transfer.
This Blu-ray features an English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack along with Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 English Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks and features optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Extras here include:
· Audio Commentary with director Bill Condon – Condon attempts to leave no stone unturned as he examines every facet of this sequel as well as the entire Breaking Dawn experience. A solid track fans will certainly want to listen to.
· Jump To… - A very odd extra that allows members of Team Edward and/or Team Jacob to jump to and watch all of their favorite’s scenes sans the rest of the movie. Like I said, odd. (NOTE – all scenes are presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio)
· Forever Filming: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part II (1:33:17) – Seven part documentary chronicling the making of the finale in just about every detail. Fans will love it, the rest of us will attempt to watch all 90-plus minutes without breaking out into unintentional hysterics.
· Two Movies at Once (6:27) – The ins and outs of separating Breaking Dawn into two chapters.
· Green Day “The Forgotten” Music Video (5:20) – Great song; surprisingly lame video.
Again, like previous Twilight releases, especially the Blu-ray for Breaking Dawn – Part I, this edition of Breaking Dawn – Part II is close to technical perfection. Fans will want this disc, rather desperately, and for them the release is highly recommended. For everyone else? Go on with your day. There’s little here for you to see.