Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

The Twilight series was never something I voluntarily sought out for entertainment. In fact, the only reason I watched the first film was because my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) really wanted to see it. Later, in order to convince her to read the Harry Potter series (you're welcome Lara) I subjected myself to Stephenie Meyer's prose. Overall, as one might imagine, the books were a lackluster experience. Since then, Lara has more-or-less forced me to see every film of the series in theaters, to varying degrees of enjoyment. The first film was kind of intriguing, though the awkward romance and corny special effects were hard to watch at times. The second film was a slight improvement, but only marginally. "Eclipse" was actually a fairly good experience when taken in the context of the previous two attempts at storytelling. It was by far the most action-packed and suspenseful of the films and actually developed some of the characters. Then came "Breaking Dawn"... First of all, let me just say how infuriating it is that Summit Entertainment felt the need to elongate the book (in which nothing really happens) into two movies I needed to sit through. The first film really heightened the uncomfortable exchanges, though it provided some unintentionally comedic moments (Jacob and the wolf pack having their telepathic argument, ala "Homeward Bound"). With the excess of baggage I was bringing into this film, it's a wonder that I stayed past the opening credits, but I am going to attempt to remove my bias when reviewing the final installment in this bloated romance.

The film opens up with Bella getting used to her Vampire abilities, hunting deer (or mountain lions...) while narrowly avoiding rock-climbing humans. They return to see their daughter, Renesmee, a creepy computer generated baby who Jacob has taken an even creepier clinginess toward, growing at an alarming rate. Within a few months, she has grown to the size of a seven year old, getting unwanted attention from a neighboring coven. Assuming the child has been bitten (which is apparently against vampire law), the girl who sees Renesmee goes to the Volturi to report the crime. Getting wind of the betrayal, the Cullen family begins to form a resistance to the army coming to kill Edward and Bella's new child. They feel that if they can build a strong enough case, the Volturi will see that she isn't a threat and will leave them in peace. The Volturi, however, may not be as easily persuaded as they had hoped...

This film is the shortest in the series, coming in at less than two hours, despite the best efforts of the film makers to elongate it in any way possible. In fact, the entire climax of the film seemed tacked on to placate the male viewers in the audience as well as to stretch the running time. I have a lot of problems with this film, which I will get into, but my main issue is the story itself. Nothing happens in this movie. Those who have read the book know how anticlimactic the film is, and all of the intrigue that the story was building toward fizzles out in the most unsatisfying way imaginable. The climactic fight scene was one of the only portions of this film in which I was actually engaged, but even that ended up being a total non-issue. At the end of this movie, the only thing accomplished is that they manage to convince a group of vampires not to fight another group of vampires. It seriously has to be the lamest ending to a series I've ever experienced.

Not only is the story completely pointless, but even the visual effects in this film are second rate. With all the money these films have made over the last five years, it's insulting that they have not only failed to improve the product they're selling, but have actually found a way to make it worse. The computer-generated wolves, despite having an additional three years of technological advancement, are somehow less convincing than when they first appeared in "New Moon". If you need any more proof as to how cheaply made these films have become, take a look at the poster. Even the "running" of the three leads looks laughably bad, not even taking into account the amateurish photo-shopping on display.

I could go on and on about the many things that infuriate me about this franchise, but I'd rather not. Suffice it to say, thank goodness this series is over. Finally some stories that are worth telling will be in theaters (ahem, Hunger Games), rather than ridiculously drawn-out love stories with half-baked plots and horrible production value. I haven't been this put-off by a mainstream film since "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" and that film at least had impressive visual effects. I give this movie a generous two stars.

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN - PART 2 is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence including disturbing images, some sensuality and partial nudity.