This is it… or is it just the beginning of Edward Cullen and Bella Swan’s immortal romance? I don’t know. All I know is the release of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 means the film franchise is over and it goes out with probably the most enjoyable movie of the bunch. It’s out with the angst, and in with a newfound sense of fun. The previous movies struck me as overly ponderous; this one is actually quite funny, occasionally even bordering on camp. And that’s OK given that the story of vampire babies and ab-tastic werewolves is rather silly.
Picking up where the last movie left off—both films are based on a single book, Stephenie Meyer’s “Breaking Dawn”—the new one begins with Bella’s (Kristen Stewart) rebirth as a vampire following the arrival of her half-human, half-bloodsucker baby Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy). Bella loves her newfound life—or whatever it is the undead call their existence. She doesn’t get tired, doesn’t have to eat and vampire sexy time is supernaturally satisfying. Edward can’t stop smiling, the baby is growing by leaps and bounds—literally—but there is darkness afoot. An allegation regarding the child finds its way to the Volturi, an ancient, vengeful coven of vampires who enforce the laws of the vampire world. The film leads to a showdown between Edward and Bella’s extended family and the old ones which could lead to a culling of the Cullen clan.
It took five movies to finally get the tone of story right. The first movies were teen angst personified through brooding Bella and Edward’s ennui. It’s as if these popular movies contained the cinematic equivalent of a dog whistle, subtext that only teenage girls could hear and see, which left anyone over the age of thirty out in the cold. However, four movies of sad faces and staring off into space may have captured the pain of teen love, but, if you’ll excuse the pun, they also sucked some of the lifeblood from the story.
Director Bill Condon, who also helmed the part one of the story, embraces the ridiculousness of the premise without losing the horror Harlequin feel that made the star crossed lovers storyline so appealing to Twihards. Bella and Edward are still share and eternal love, and the addition of Renesmee has only strengthened that feeling, but now they’re having some fun. Edward, if you watch closely, even smiles occasionally.
It’s a big step from the first installments and, unsurprisingly, it makes for a fun movie. Intentional laugh lines—when Bella’s dad learns of Jacob’s (Taylor Lautner) lycnthropian ability he says to his daughter, “You don’t turn into an animal too, do you?”—are mixed with some unintentional gags—Russian vampires anyone?—and topped off with some playful action—like Bella wrestling with a cougar.
The cumulative effect is the rare undead story that is life affirming with less of the stuff that made the previous movies tough going for non-romantically inclined fang bangers and more pure entertainment.
It can be said that the world can be divided into two groups. Those who like the Twilight movies and those who don’t get the vampire romance movies. In a special fang banger Reel Guys Liz Brown, a Twihard superfan, helps skeptic Richard Crouse understand Breaking Dawn – Part 2’s vampire baby Renesmee, the Volturi and why fanpires are addicted to this undead love story!
Richard: 3 ½ Stars
Liz: 4 Stars
Richard: Liz, this is it… or is it just the beginning of Edward and Bella’s immortal romance? I don’t know. All I know is the film franchise is over and it goes out with probably the most enjoyable movie of the bunch. It’s out with the angst, and in with a newfound sense of fun. The previous movies struck me as overly ponderous; this one is actually quite funny, occasionally bordering on camp. And that’s OK given that the story of vampire babies and ab-tastic werewolves is rather silly. Tell me, superfan, what did you think?
Liz: Richard, the first step is admitting you have a problem — and I do. I fell for the fang when I picked up Christopher Pike’s The Last Vampire series in grade six. Twilight brought me back to that time — daydreaming about brooding, loner vampires and wishing I had superpowers. It seems in this last installment the franchise has whole heartedly embraced its camp. I prefer my femmes to lean towards the fatale, so it was nice to see Kristen Stewart finally stop biting her lip and show us her blood-thirsty side.
RC: I agree! Four movies of brooding Bella and Edward’s ennui was enough. The sad faces and staring off into space may have captured the pain of teen love, but, if you’ll excuse the pun, they also sucked some of the lifeblood from the story. The newlyweds still share and eternal love, but now they’re having some fun. Edward, if you watch closely, even smiles occasionally. It’s a big step from the first installments and, unsurprisingly, it makes for a more fun movie.
LB: I’m sorry Richard, I’m still firmly Team Jacob, so I didn’t pay Edward much heed. But I’ll agree — the actors are having fun in this final hurrah. The most fun for me? Jacob’s semi-nude explanation of the supernatural. Judging from the cheers in the crowd, I’m not the only one who enjoyed it. But I was a little disappointed with the action scenes. I know it’s film for tweens, but couldn’t the battles have a bit more style? After all that angst, this series needed some Ang Lee.
RC: I thought I heard you let out a squeal when Lautner stripped down. Don’t worry. I won’t tell anyone. The action scenes are bloodless for the most part. The Walking Dead makes this look like Sesame Street, but I liked the steely look of determination on Dakota Fanning’s face throughout. I just hope she wasn’t paid by the word for her mostly mute performance.
LB: Yes, Fanning’s Jane doesn’t get too many lines this time out, but overall this film is less talky than the others — and that’s a good thing. I’m sad to bid farewell to the Cullens, but I’m certain they’ll be happy in their “perfect piece of forever.” My inner tween now anxiously awaits the next adventure of Katniss Everdeen.
For most people Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart will always be the undead Romeo and Juliet of the Twilight series. This weekend’s The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is their final bow as Bella and Edward, the last time we’ll have to enjoy them complete with fangs and dreams of eternal love in the horror Harlequin series.
While the vampire movies contain their best-known roles, both have worked to establish themselves outside the Twilight universe.
Robert Pattinson struggled before beating out 3,000 others to land the role of ninety-year-old vampire Edward Cullen. Labeled “the next Jude Law,” he had small roles in several films, including Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but a movie planned as his big breakout was a disappointment.
Cast as Reese Witherspoon’s son in the 2004 drama Vanity Fair, his part was cut from the film for theatrical release. Not surprisingly it was reinserted on the DVD once he became a household name. What is surprising is seven years later he played Witherspoon’s lover in Water for Elephants.
Movies like the 9/11 drama Remember Me and the period piece Bel Ami haven’t yet erased memories of his “fantastically beautiful, sparkly vampire,” but he has five films lined up, including the thriller Hold on to Me opposite Oscar nominee Carey Muilligan, that he hopes will do the trick.
Best Post-Fang-Banger Role: Eric Packer, a twenty-eight-year old billionaire money manager in Cosmopolis. The claustrophobic feel of the movie places a great deal of emphasis on Pattinson and he takes advantage of the up-close-and-personal cinematography to deliver a tricky performance that uses stillness to mask the boiling rage that exists beneath his stony veneer.
Kristen Stewart came to Twilight with a resume. An actor since age eight, she had appeared in seventeen films before perfecting Bella Swan’s ennui-ridden eye roll. Despite saying, “I never wanted to be the center of attention,” she graduated from playing the “ring toss girl” in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas to substantial parts in Panic Room, opposite Jodie Foster, the Sean Penn-directed Into the Wild and headlining blockbusters like Snow White and the Huntsman.
Best Post Teen Angst Role: She brought her brooding Brando best to the role of Joan Jett in The Runaways, the true, tawdry tale of an underage all girl rock band—they billed themselves as “Genuine Jailbait”—spawned from the Sunset Strip’s late 1970s seedy underbelly.