What It's About
The blandest one of the five "The Twilight Saga" movies, "Breaking Dawn, Part II" is basically filler. By chopping Stephenie Meyer's fourth book in the series into two films, the bite has been watered down -- wedding and pregnancy in part one, happily ever after in part two.
While of course it's always nice to see it work out for a couple, there is just nowhere to go with this story with its lackluster conclusion. The first half is primarily hugs, kisses and one big happy Cullen family. A conflict finally interrupts their idyllic immortal lives -- Bella is now a vampire after giving birth to Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy), and the Volturi think the child is one of the outlawed little vampire tykes known as Immortal Children. But she has a beating heart, a freaky-fast growth process and a supernatural precociousness.
Let the battle royale begin! The righteous Cullens put together an army from around the world to defend their honor against the feared and loathed Volturi, the European vampire rulers.
All have grown comfortably into their roles. Remarkably, Kristen Stewart does not fidget nor play with her hair now that Bella's a confident wife, mother and bloodsucker. Team Edward and Team Jacob won't have much to debate, for Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner appear more than ever to be talking mannequins. They sail off into the sunset with their women, their tiffs a thing of the past. Lautner tosses off quips well -- he might have grown the most (but the imprint deal is pretty creepy once you see it visualized, not just on the printed page).
When the Cullens' fabulous compound in Forks, Wash., becomes the international house of vampires, the new characters who stand out are Lee Pace ("Lincoln") as an undead Revolutionary War soldier and Rami Malek ("The Master") as a cold one who can control the elements. They resemble actors, not people in an Abercrombie and Fitch ad shoot.
The global guests all have nifty specialties, and Bella's newfound tool is a shield. That requires Stewart to make faces like she has a migraine. That's about as deep as it gets. There are numerous reaction shots to green screens and disturbing visions we aren't privy to see.
As for those Volturi leaders, Michael Sheen as leader Aros has had his pale makeup applied with a trowel; his acting is as hammy as Christopher Lee in those B-movie Dracula thrillers from the '60s.
The film looks great, with sweeping panoramic shots of the gorgeous Northwest landscape, making it the real star. Carter Burwell's haunting "Bella's Theme" and score has always been a highlight, and the pop songs don't intrude. Billy Burke is a welcome sight as Bella's police chief dad Charlie, and he's never in the films enough to suit me.
Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg has taken a scalpel to the original text, and thankfully cut out big chunks. But arguably "Breaking Dawn" was the weakest of the four books, bloated beyond belief in 700 pages.
What Doesn't Work
The computer-generated graphics are sub-par and the whooshing, bionic-man-and-woman speedy running looks and sounds ridiculous. It just adds to the cheese of the entire project.
Fans deserved a better movie. This final installment ties everything up, but there's no reason to continue -- by the time the credits roll, giving the cast from all five movies their due, you don't feel there is any more story to tell.
Part II limps to the finish line, but will make oodles of money. It's unfortunate that dollar signs were the biggest concern, because the studio has pandered to its female constituents. By not concentrating on giving the wrap-up true, honest, flesh-and-blood feelings, it has done a disservice to the source material and the fans who cared. I read all four books rapidly, and enjoyed watching the progression of the previous four movies. This left me frustrated, bored and blase.
1 1/2 stars out of 4
Director: Bill Condon
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Michael Sheen, Lee Pace
Rated: PG-13 for sequences of violence, some sensuality and partial nudity