Well now they’ve done it! With Edward turning Bella (Kristin Stewart, Snow White and the Huntsman) into a vampire they’ve brought down the wrath of the Volturi, the vampire version of the SS Squad, upon everyone’s heads. Will the Quileute fight with them, especially now that Jacob (Taylor Lautner, Abduction) has imprinted upon Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy, R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour)? And will the witnesses the Cullens gather testify for them in a last ditch effort to stop an all-out war?
I’ll be honest. When I read Breaking Dawn, I wondered how they were going to make one, let alone two movies out of it. Edward Cullen himself (Robert Pattison, Bel Ami) wasn’t sure how they could pull it off without upgrading the rating from the standard PG-13 to R. And my concerns were well-founded for the most part. There is a lot of material left unmined which an R-rated movie would have reaped the benefits of.
However most of my issues with both of these final two installments in The Twilight Saga stem from issues with the source material. The biggest problem that Breaking Dawn, Part 2 has, that all of the movies in the saga suffer from, is that in order to fully appreciate them you need to have read the books.
And that’s a problem.
Usually with a book-to-movie adaptation there needs to be a conscious effort on the part of filmmakers to provide a story which anyone can connect to, regardless of having read the books. But there are gaps in these movies which are only filled in if you’ve read the books.
Specifically within the books is an inordinate amount of telepathy, and changing POVs, and the sort of “told not shown” things which are completely cut from the screenplays. So only people who read the books really understand what it means. For example, in Breaking Dawn, Part 2 when Jacob goes to Charlie, who shows up at the Cullen house. And in the movie it’s partly played for laughs instead of the angst-filled section it really is intended to be.
There’s not enough of an effort to do what the audience wanted: put the book on the screen. By cutting out so much of the core (which would be boring onscreen, I readily admit that), there’s a disconnect for anyone who didn’t read the books. The lingering pauses in dialogue, the looks between characters, all of it is mentally filled in by those who read the books, while anyone else is mentally saying, “What?” and that’s too bad. There is narration, of course, but it’s sporadic. And while I’m the last person to endorse reel-to-reel narration I think if you’re not going to expand beyond the book then it’s something which should have been included more.
However, there was a surprising departure from the book, one which I was happy with though it did make me wonder, why wait until this last movie before showing what the deviations could bring forth? SPOILERS for the book: the book does not end with the climactic battle scene. And say what you will about director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) the man knows how to direct a battle sequence. The Cullen vs. Volturi face-off is one of the best action set pieces in any movie released in 2012, regardless of being the best in the Twilight franchise.
There are plenty of things to quibble over regarding The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 like the vampire make-up, the lack of a true all-out Bella/Jacob fight scene, and yes, the weird baby CGI. But there are things to like, though I think there are less for those who haven’t read the books. Again, Billy Burke (Revolution) brings it as Bella’s dad. The expansion of the ‘verse to include the other vampires brings some different energies, and Michael Sheen (30 Rock) as Aro was wonderfully campy as always. Plus Stewart and Pattinson’s chemistry takes on a deeper flavor which definitely comes across.
The bottom line is, if you are not already a fan of Twilight this review won’t convince you, nor will The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2. Fans will find this a suitable act of closure, non-fans will hate on this.
The cinematography is gorgeous, with more beautiful set pieces and lush scenery, notably Bella and Edward’s cottage. The video is as beautiful as you can wish for, the 2:40/1080p stream boasts the most saturated palette of any of the Twilight films. The audio continues to be top-notch, with the DTS-HD 7.1 providing a fully-inhabited audio space. Be a hater all you want, but you won’t find fault with the tech specs.
Special features include a seven part documentary about the making of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 which were shot as one movie. It can viewed as a stand-alone documentary or a picture-in-picture one if you have such a player. Another feature is the JUMP TO which allows you to show support for your favorite howler or fanged creature by viewing the movie in fast forward, automatically stopping on the scenes featuring your Team Boy. Still yet another feature is a Green Day music video. There’s also a director’s commentary, and finally, digital and Ultraviolet copies.
The Twilight Saga is going to get remade — it’ll probably reboot faster than the Spider-Man franchise — and when it does it will be darker and grittier, as Snow White and the Huntsman is to Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It will delve into the characters and situations presented with a more cynical eye, and will see Bella Swan emerge as a strong protagonist. All of this will happen by ignoring the Twilight books for the most part, or, better yet, by having the new movies take place after the events in the original series.
Until that happens, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 (Blu-ray) is not something I’m going to recommend purchasing, mainly because this is the first of I’m assuming at least three different releases. I’d wait until the ultimate release or until the ultimate multi-disc set comes out. And that’s only if you’re a fan. Don’t bother if you’re not a Twihard.