When stay-at-home mother Stephenie Meyer woke up from a vivid dream and penned the first Twilight novel she had no idea that her inspiration would morph into a worldwide phenomena.
Fast-forward just nine years later and Meyer is a best-selling author with tons of adoring fans, hordes of Twilight-themed paraphernalia, and five feature film adaptations known to clean the clock of any movie that dares to challenge her franchise for opening weekend ratings.
The latest film adaptation, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2, is no exception. Released last Friday, November 16, the final installment in the Saga raked in a whopping $141.3 million opening weekend according to Variety.
Directed by Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1) and co-produced by Meyer, the final installment is also the best. Like Part 1, Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is much darker and more mature that the earlier films.
Bella emerges from her supernatural child-birth with blazing red eyes and an eager newborn thirst. There is a bit of a slow start as Bella catches up on events missed during her transformation.
However, the pace quickens when Renesmee (I remember reading this name in the novel and being caught somewhere between hysterical laughter and despair), Bella’s half-vampire, half-human child, is mistaken for an “immortal child” and the Cullens must enlist the help of their vampire friends to stand against the Volturi’s wrath.
The film honors the book with the exception of a surprise twist; I don’t believe in spoilers so that’s all I am going to say, except that Twihearts will not be disappointed.
Unfortunately, I have never been impressed by the performances of Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, or Taylor Lautner. Often stilted and detached, the attractive trio is steadfast in their failure to bring any depth to their characters. I will note that over the five movies their acting has improved, and they aren’t as painful to watch as they were in the original Twilight.
This being said, any lack of artistry on their behalf is made good by Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning, Billy Burke and a captivating cast of new actors including Lee Pace and Joe Anderson.
My biggest problem with Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is how it glossed over the significance of the wolves’ involvement in the story. The dispute between Jacob and Sam is settled with a simple handshake, although the conflict between the Quileute wolf pack was a huge component in Breaking Dawn – Part 1.
In the novel the Volturi are not only surprised by the wolves joining forces with the Cullens but they are fearful. Caius in particular, who was nearly killed by a werewolf, and subsequently dedicated his life (or at least part of it) to hunting them to near extinction. There is no sign of this in the film nor the discovery that the Quileutes are in fact shapeshifters and not werewolves.
I know it is impossible to get half of the details of a 756 paged book into a two-hour movie, but a little consistency goes a long way and this would have been a great tool to ramp up the tension between the Cullens and the Volturi.
By no means will The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 win an Academy Award but it does win-out in the area of entertainment. The traditional campiness of earlier Twilight installments is played down and the storyline is allowed to take precedence.
I say SEE IT to hardcore fans of the series. It’s a satisfying finish to an epic story; nicely tying up loose ends, and even including visuals of past cast members in the closing credits.
However, to anyone not seduced by the allure of a Meyer manuscript, Taylor’s pecks, or Rob’s tresses you may find that RENTING IT would be a better option.
-Jennifer Hall, CBS Local