Breaking Dawn: Part II

Breaking Dawn: Part II (2012)

I am not ashamed to say that the Twilight franchise has played a significant role in my adolescence.  I read the first book at twelve or thirteen years of age and adored it.  I attended the midnight showing of the first film and squealed at Taylor Lautner.  While I fully acknowledge the many flaws in Stephenie Meyer’s novels, I’m also unsure when it became a requirement for thirteen year olds to read intellectually stimulating books.  Taste improves with age and I think they we should let girls (and boys) have some brainless fun while they can.

So last night my friends and I set off to mark the end of our tween passion – at long last.  We’ve changed a lot since the first movie.  Unfortunately, the quality of the films themselves has not.

A few things really do need to be said about Breaking Dawn: Part II.

**SPOILERS MAY ENSUE**

Baby Renesmee is the devil’s child.

Some bright young thing decided to use a computer-generated baby to portray Bella’s half human/half vampire daughter, Renesmee.  But much like the case of Frankenstein’s monster, something went horribly wrong.  Whenever baby Renesmee was on screen I didn’t know whether to cry with laughter or scream in terror.  Whatever the animators have created, it is not natural.  As one of my friends said, the baby is both the worst and the best thing about this film.

The script is particularly awful.

I must be getting bitter and cynical in my old age, but approximately three minutes into the film I was already finding the dialogue revolting soppy.  Ninety percent comprises of one line exchanges, strung together with meaningful looks, inappropriate close-up shots and regular chunks of narration.  Granted they didn’t have much to work with in the first place but I’m sure a half decent writer could have turned the story into something vaguely presentable.

The music tells you how to feel.  Forcefully.

Perhaps the filmmaker sensed that the script was somewhat lacklustre, and they compensated by accompanying every dramatic revelation (of which there were many) with sudden bursts of ominous music.  The franchise has had quite a good soundtrack over the years but unfortunately I was a bit underwhelmed with the cheesy selections in the final instalment.

The closing credits were confusing and awkward.

As far as I recall, I quite liked the closing credits in the first movie. They putFifteen Step’ by Radiohead alongside a black and white montage of the main talent.   In Breaking Dawn: Part II they attempted something similar with slightly bizarre results.  They created another black and white montage and decided to give every actor who has ever been in the franchise for more than twelve seconds a little screen-time – as though the end of the series was a hugely significant and emotional cinematic event.

Nonetheless:

Billy Bourke was a stand-out.

One of the best scenes was Charlie’s reaction when Jacob mysteriously drops his dacks to reveal he’s a werewolf.  Later, Charlie uncertainly relays to Bella that the boy they have known for so many years can turn into ‘a very large dog’.  Lee Pace also gave a very enjoyable performance as Garrett, a nomadic vampire who was turned around the time of the American War of Independence.

Production value has improved.

The franchise has admittedly come a long way from the powdery vampires of Twilight and Nikki Reed’s terrible blonde wig. I actually thought that the sequence in the opening credits was pretty cool and the movie had sweeping shots of some gorgeous scenery throughout.  The battle scene with the Volturi had some interesting digital effects going and it was by far the most (or perhaps the only) suspenseful part of Breaking Dawn: Part II.

PLOT TWIST –  Everybody dies. 

In a surprise move, the writer threw in a couple of major deaths that were not in the book.  For this reason, the battle scene was actually pretty tense.  For a moment it looked like we were going to get a shocking original ending – Edward and Bella and everyone they love dies.  But not quite.  The battle scene (and the deaths of Carlisle and Jasper among others) was revealed to be one of Alice’s visions and not something that actually came to pass. I  thought that this was quite a sensible move.  The book built up to this huge climax – they were assembled for a battle, they were ready to die.  And then, nothing happens.  It wasn’t good in the book and it would have crippled the already fragile dramatic tension in the film.  So for once (and once only) kudos Melissa Rosenburg.

I don’t know about the reception of Breaking Dawn: Part II around the world, but in Australia it hasn’t made much of a splash.  I saw it in one of Hoyts’ smallest cinemas, while across the way Skyfall had four consecutive sessions sold-out.  I think the franchise has definitely lost its steam since Twilight was first announced, all those years ago.  A lot of the dedicated, original fan-base has grown up and moved on to bigger and better obsessions (case in point: me).  With the explosion of young adult fantasy novels that followed Twilight, it will be interesting to see which series moves to fill the franchise’s shoes and whether these stories will ever receive critical acclaim.  After all, they are popular for a reason.  We can knock these books all we want but the fact is – they are getting hundreds of thousands of kids into reading and engaging their imagination.  In my opinion, you can’t really exaggerate the benefits of that.

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