With Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Peter Facinelli, Mackenzie Foy. Written by Melissa Rosenberg. Directed by Bill Condon. Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence including disturbing images, some sensuality and partial nudity. 115 minutes.
Yes, the “Twilight” saga comes to an overly dramatic end with BREAKING DAWN: PART II. The story picks up where we left off, with the brooding Bella (Kristen Stewart) just having given birth to Renesmee and having herself been turned into a vampire. The first part of the story is a lot of marking time as Bella has to deal with her need to feed on blood, has to let her father (Billy Burke) know she’s around without letting on that she’s changed, and that Jacob (Taylor Lautner) the werewolf has “imprinted” on the baby. Oh and of course have sex with Edward (Robert Pattinson) now that they’re both vampires making them equally strong and tireless.
Just as you’re wondering how much more blandness the movie has in store the real plot of this final episode finally kicks into gear. Renesmee (now played by Mackenzie Foy) is growing up very fast and within months seems to be six years old. That’s when she’s spotted by Irina (Maggie Grace) who thinks she’s a “child vampire,” who will never grow out of childhood while having full vampire powers. Such children are dangerous and out of control. Irina denounces Bella and Edward and the whole Cullen family to the Volturi, the power-mad vampire rulers headed by Aro (Michael Sheen, camping it up to the hilt).
So the Cullens need to find witnesses – other vampires – who will vouch that Renesmee is a human/vampire hybrid and not a child immortal. Meanwhile Aro and the other Volturi prepare to destroy the child and those who protect her. Where can this story possibly go?
To the legion of fans of the books and movies it can go towards a big surprise they won’t be expecting following by yet another surprise. This is followed by several endings including curtain calls for anyone who had a significant role in any of the five films. There was no reason to split “Breaking Dawn” into two movies given the amount of padding in both parts. The material completely defeats the actors who, except for Sheen, are mostly expressionless. It’s as if the vampires have not only been drained of their blood but of all emotion. Take Peter Facinelli, who is quite good on the Showtime series “Nurse Jackie.” As the patriarch of the Cullen clan, he has the emotional range of a department store mannequin.
Without giving anything away, it is in the climactic sequence, which is out of character with the entire rest of the series, where things finally start happening. There’s action, there’s heart, and there are plot twists. It’s as if Melissa Rosenberg (who has written all the adaptations of Stephanie Meyer’s book series) and Bill Condon (who directed both parts of “Breaking Dawn”) wanted to show the movie they could have made if they weren’t stuck with such lifeless material.
The series is finally over, waiting to be rediscovered years from now by a new generation of teenage girls who will inevitably ask, “Grandma, you really liked this stuff?”•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His first novel, Shh! It’s A Secret: A Novel About Aliens, Hollywood and the Bartender’s Guide will be released in January 2013. He teaches film at Suffolk University and lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.