Monday, November 19, 2012

"Dawn" has broken.... 

Movie Review: "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2"

The long wait is over: the final installment of the beloved vampire-werewolf-human series has reached theatres, a full year after "Breaking Dawn, Part 1". I watched it opening weekend with a nearly sold-out crowd. The others in the audience seemed excited at the prospect of Bella, Edward and Jacob on screen again, but also a bit sad that this was the last time.

The story picks up at the exact moment where the previous film left off: with Bella opening her vampiric eyes. She has been revived at the precipice of death from childbirth. She is now a newborn herself.

Bella's husband, vampire Edward, takes her on her first hunt, during which she takes down a mountain lion which is in mid-leap. She has super-human strength and speed and must be taught how to safely interact with the human world. A better title for this movie might be "Bella Kicks Ass" or "Bella: New and Improved".

Because Bella was still human when she became pregnant with Edward's child, their new daughter, Renesmee, is half human and half vampire. This causes her to mature at an alarming rate and to be able to communicate through telepathy by touching a person's cheek. Werewolf Jacob has imprinted on the child and becomes her guardian.

But this big happy family is soon threatened. The vampire ruling class, the Volturi of Italy, believe that Renesmee is fully vampire in origin. It is forbidden to create child vampires; the leaders of the Volturi travel to the United States to exact their punishment.

Because there is only one major character remaining who is fully human (Bella's father Charlie), "Breaking Dawn 2" is a special effects feast. There are furry wolves and lightning-fast vampires everywhere you look. But the trickiest feat was Renesmee's rapid aging and unusual intelligence even as an infant. What they ended up doing was using an 11-year-old child actress for the "older" Renesmee and a combination of animatronic and real babies for the infant scenes. The robot babies weren't entirely convincing.

The trailers for "Breaking Dawn 2" spoke of a surprising twist. There are actually two, neither of which are in the book. I will not go into detail in order to avoid spoilers, but I will say that there was a huge gasp throughout the audience when the first one occurred. The second one caused some grumbling. I have reluctantly accepted the changes, but I don't think everyone will.

This movie has a PG-13 rating, which seems appropriate. There is violence but not excessive gore (vampires don't bleed). There is married vampire sex, but nothing more graphic than in Part 1. As with the previous films in the series, kids who read and enjoyed the books will probably be fine, but it might be too intense for younger ones.

The soundtrack was excellent as usual. There is a nice closing sequence so that Twi-hards can reminisce about the entire story of Bella, Edward and Jacob. But I don't recommend seeing this one without having viewed "Part 1"; it would be too confusing to a newbie.

I found "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2" to be entertaining but not quite as satisfying as "Part 1". Still, I was reluctant to return to the human world.

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