Movie Reviews by Reel People: 'Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2'

By Ron and Leigh Martel, Columnists, The Friday Flyer


While the final installment is considered epic entertainment by screaming “Twihards,” serious film buffs are grateful the finale drives a stake through the heart of this teen fling soap opera. Sure, it’s not a universally great film, but done well enough for those willing to bite. Mostly, it confirms vampires will never win the battle without winning Ohio.

Based on the wildly popular Stephanie Meyer novels, the fourth and final book was divided into two full length features. In the second of the twi-night double-header, loose ends are being neatly tied when a Freddie Krueger slasher flick breaks out. Through the numerous “twists” of battle, an unexpected and innovative plot twist saves the day, the movie and the series. So, after the initial episodes, we’ll take the fifth.

In the prior cliff-hanger, Bella (Kristen Stewart) comes over to the dark side, but the vamp believes her prior life pales in comparison. After the birth of Renesmee (played by nine young actresses and a robotic doll), who resembles the Gerber baby, the threesome settle into a wooded cottage seemingly built by Thomas Kincade.

Bella, the once monotonous “emo-girl” is now stronger, faster and can leap tall buildings in a single bound. Best of all, she and her dreamy Edward (Robert Pattinson) will never age until she soon realizes, “I thought we would be safe forever, but 'forever' isn't as long as I'd hoped,” because Irina (Maggie Grace) reports the kid as a threat to Volturi.

The Vultori are led by the deranged Aro, an evil monster played with delirious passion by Michael Sheen, who once nailed the role of Tony Blair in “The Queen.” The queen bee of this hive is the totally ineffective Dakota Fanning, who offers no gravitas, no expression and maybe one word. We wonder why she’s even in the movie.

Director Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls”) effectively maneuvers the extensive cast through the gorgeous scenic backdrops. As the Cullen family sings, “Can I Get a Witness,” Team Edward and Team Jacob (Taylor Lautner) assemble for a battle royal with the Vulturi over what might just be a simple misunderstanding.

The not so straight Aro is unwilling to understand the facts or to compromise. Although this qualifies him for Congress, the potential civil war could require the skills of an Abraham Lincoln as a peacemaker or as a vampire hunter. Another approach would be to treat all these red-eyed undead with some industrial strength Visine.

The Melissa Rosenberg script is simple but speaks clearly and directly to its audience and especially to its loyal fan base. The ending scenes are somewhat clichéd and need a little more bite, but are a satisfying way to close out the series. Finally, the CGI special effects allow the audience to race through the forest as a wolf or a speedy vampire.

The finale was filmed back to back with Part 1, which began November, 2010 and wrapped April 2011. Filming took place in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as well as Vancouver, Canada. Its $75 million dollar budget grew to over $100 million, making it the highest of the Twilight series. But, with the overwhelming audience reception, the movie broke even the first weekend and will join the 2012 Top 10 box office by month end.

“Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2” is 115 minutes and rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, sensuality and nudity. To protect the children on the set, director Bill Condon set up a swear jar where cast and crew uttering profanities were fined on the spot. The amount collected from the jar was donated to St. Jude's Children Hospital.

For a teen movie, it’s encouraging to see the family patriarchs played by Peter Facinelli and Billy Burke portrayed in such a positive light. We’re also pleased the large teen cast has appeared in so many popular movies the last few years. After this 600-minute soap opera, the moral of the story is that werewolves and vampires are simply misunderstood.

Ron’s Rating: C+ Leigh’s Rating: A-