HST…Film Review: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2

Zac: The Twilight Saga has come to a close and Bill Condon, arguably, has made the best entry yet into the series with Breaking Dawn – Part 2.

Heather:  Seriously – you think this is the best Twilight movie yet?!  Did we even see the same movie?

Lauren:  No Heather, don’t worry, he’s joking… [waits patiently]…  Wait, you’re not joking?  Oh…

Seriously, I don’t know how you can say that this series wrapped on a high note.  The Twilight Saga has never been known for its cinematic prowess, with the films finding a comfortable range in the realms of overly cheesy, awkwardly uncomfortable, forcibly infuriating, and just downright terrible, I’d say that if these films ever hit a strong point it was with Eclipse.  I find it a rather difficult task to figure out why this one worked for you, with only, and I seriously mean only, the fight scene at the end being what did it for you.

Zac: The fight was the highpoint of the film, easily, but this picture, more than any of the films, seems knowingly self aware of what it is and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Yes, there are some ridiculously poor filmmaking/storytelling moments throughout the film, but I found the narrative focus away from the main couple’s sappy and ridiculous romance refreshing.

In fact, this film made me wish we got to Bella the vampire three movies ago since she is immediately more interesting, crazy and likable as a vamp.  The world of Twilight also grows exponentially in this film and I was intrigued by a few of the new characters we get to spend oh too little time with.  I have always said this, but there are a lot of good ideas buried in this series and they have, unfortunately, been immediately pushed to the sidelines for the rather lackluster romance. A lot of interesting things are introduced in this film, too much actually, and I am disappointed that we didn’t have three movies of this interesting world building and flashbacks, as opposed to the romance that could have easily been condensed into a film and a half.

Lauren:  As you say, there were definitely some ridiculously poor filmmaking/storytelling moments, starting with the beginning of the film.  And I am not just talking about the horror film-esque opening credit sequence, but the moment in which Bella awakens as a vampire.  Let’s just say a certain teen vampire TV show did it better.  You say that they are self aware of what they’re creating, but what you read as not taking themselves too seriously plays out completely differently in my eyes because of the history of the films and how they were done before.  They were presenting this hunting scene in all sincerity, which is why it was laughable.  From Bella popping out from around rocks or trees, to running and jumping through the forest in order to get to a scraped knee, to then flinging herself from the mountain in disgust, they can’t honestly believe that this was great filmmaking.

Once Bella’s new found way of life calmed down, the film definitely became more bearable, but i still don’t even know if I can agree with you about Bella becoming more interesting, she just finally had more of a purpose other than who to choose since there was a creepy CGI baby to think of.  When this child wasn’t obviously suffering from computer face, this little girl didn’t really seem to be as impressive as she was written to be, which is probably a good thing because it was one of the many ridiculous choices in the 4th installment to make it the most out there yet.  But at the same time to counteract this, it was almost as if she was played down completely, only being brought out to touch people’s faces to make the mission to collect “witnesses” to the truth of her story incredibly easy.

Now that I think of it, there wasn’t a lot going on in the film other than touching people to impart images, memories and possible futures on them, quickening the narrative by condensing the meat of the story.  I’m not saying that we need to have a 10 minute meet and greet with every new face, but what little time the new characters were given barely even scratched at the surface of who I’m assuming they were, let alone made their lives of any consequence to me if they ate it in the end.  How dare you make Lee Pace cannon fodder!

Zac: I would watch a Lee Pace vampire movie across all the wars in a heartbeat.

I am going to say “agree to disagree” on your point about the opening, though, as I think the tongue is firmly in cheek and they know exactly how campy and over the top this whole thing is.  Take the kind of awesome pregnancy section of Part 1, so ridiculous and over the top, which is what makes it entertaining. Sure the CG work is shoddy in these opening shots (bad blue screen work everywhere in this movie; EVERYWHERE), but I was laughing with a little glee at how insane everything was.

That was my attitude towards most of the film, just sit back and have fun with the absurdity, and I think that is exactly what the filmmakers and a lot of the fans want you to do.  I would have loved to see an extended young immortal slaughter sequence, I would have loved to see more Lee Pace, I would have loved to see more of the Volturi backstory, I think most of these new characters could have been great and interesting had they been fleshed out, but I am not going to let that get me that upset in a Twilight movie.  Had this been the first film, yeah, I might have been a little more pissed at why they didn’t give us more of that interesting stuff, but knowing this is the end all I could say was, “Well this is cool, wish we got more of this earlier. Oh well.”

Even with a legion of underdeveloped characters on both sides of the fight, you cannot help but be sucked into that final fight, which is seriously one of the best things in a movie this year.  We have to give Condon props for being able to create such an effective fight with stakes where I was genuinely concerned about what the hell was going to happen next.  Shit gets crazy, and the twist of it all is a genuinely awesome moment that makes the most of the potential of the material while remaining faithful to diehard fans.

Lauren: Goodness we really are striking out in agreeing here.  The fight scene was pretty engrossing, yes, but best things in a movie this year?  Hardly.  When you look past a couple of the more satisfying deaths, it was mostly just a lot of head twisting when you break it down, as Bella thought really hard in the background (though I will say that she did get her hands dirty rather well when she could).  Granted, nothing brought more satisfaction that watching Jane’s backward glance as she finally got to be scared for once.  Plus, I love the freedom that the filmmakers did take in this moment to not stick with exactly how this plays out in the book, but there is a key line that happens right before that I can’t get past quite yet.  It just contradicts everything that happens.  But hey, expect bad things, and then you can’t be disappointed, right?

Maybe this mindset allows you to forgive this movie for a lot of its downfalls, but honestly I still wish this would have been one film with Part 1.  Maybe then I would at least feel slightly more satisfied with how this adaptation turned out on the whole.  But for now, I will just be glad it’s over and we can look forward to The Host.  Unless it’s not…  Goodness knows these films don’t believe in things dying, no matter how close that ending was to an In Memoriam montage.

Zac: The closing credits are a perfect example of who this film is for, the fans, but I don’t think it alienates the random people being dragged to the theater in the coming weeks.  I am not short changing the film to get enjoyment out of it, I thought there was some solid humor, the action was great, and there were a lot of cool little bits dropped in there from start to finish.  Condon found the perfect balance of camp and fan service with his two parter, and I found the finale a fitting finish for the franchise.

Lauren:  Blegh.

Heather:  I agree with Zac that there were some authentic funny moments throughout the movie (almost all of them with Emmett Cullen)… but most were just funny because of how bad they were.  And the action scenes were HORRIBLE. I mean c’mon – vampires were twisting other vampire heads off like they were Barbie Doll heads!  I will say this – at least this movie was the kind of awful that made me laugh, and not the kind that made me angry!  Plus, I thought it was pretty hilarious that when the weird In Memoriam-esque montage played, Taylor Lautner got cheers, Robert Pattinson got resounding applause, and then up popped Kristen Stewart’s picture… and the theater went silent.  Spot on Audience.  It almost made me forgive them for clapping at the end of the movie, before the ending credits.  I can only hope they were clapping then because this horrendous stream of movies was finally over for good, and not because they thought the movie was brilliant.     

Zac’s Final Grade: B    
Lauren’s Final Grade:  D+    

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