THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN – PART II
*1/2 (out of 5)
November 16, 2012
Kristen Stewart as BELLA SWAN
Robert Pattinson as EDWARD CULLEN
Taylor Lautner as JACOB BLACK
Peter Facinelli as DR. CARLISLE CULLEN
Elizabeth Reaser as ESME CULLEN
Ashley Greene as ALICE CULLEN
Directed by: Bill Condon
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Oh Christ, where to start? There’s so much to say about the end of the most over-hyped non-saga in movie history. In what amounts to the last sliver of the fourth novel in the “Twilight” series, Bill Condon stretches fifteen minutes of screen story into a lumbering, often nonsensical and thoroughly incompetent film.
Still, unbelievably, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part II” is not the worst of the bunch. That award goes to its predecessor, which was twice as boring and painfully scripted. At the very least, there’s a certain entertainment value in “Breaking Dawn – Part II,” putting it on par with many “so bad they’re good” movies the likes of which Roger Corman hasn’t even seen.
The story picks up after expressionless Bella (Kristen Stewart) wakes up as a newborn vampire. Her perpetually constipated husband Edward (Robert Pattinson) works to usher her into the life of the vampire. Meanwhile, in a twist to the pedophilia overtones thrust upon him in the series, Jacob (Taylor Lautner) has imprinted his unending love on their vampire-hybrid daughter before she even had her first diaper change. However, the Volturi (those Roman suckers who wander around a dungeon in cloaks, supposedly overseeing all the vampires but never having a goddamn clue as to what’s going on under their own noses) catch wind of Bella and Edward’s baby and head across the pond to put them all to death.
Even though director Bill Condon delivered the truly awful “Breaking Dawn – Part I,” at the very least he stepped up the production game in terms of cinematography, special effects and make-up. All of this is out-done in its sequel. The cinematography is still pretty to look at, but almost every shot is a green-screen composite, looking like it was cast with local weathermen rather than actors. The make-up returns to the goofy ghost-face look of many of the vampires. And worst of all, the digital effects have been sent back to the TV-movie look from the first film.
But no amount of overblown CGI wolves that are now the size of ligers can be outdone by the completely creepy and unnecessary use of face replacement on Bella and Edward’s baby. I understand the concept of making the baby look like actress Mackenzie Foy, but the CGI work is embarrassing. They should have just gotten a real baby that looked like Foy. Instead, the child looks like she was plucked from “The Polar Express,” offering the creepiest of creepy looks. It’s a sad state in Hollywood when Andy Serkis looks more like an ape or a deformed Hobbit than a twelve-year-old looks like a baby.
Additionally, “Breaking Dawn: Part II” features the most racist costume design I’ve ever seen in a modern movie. There’s Brazilian vampires who show up wearing loincloths. There’s Irish vampires who look like they just walked out of The Blarney Stone Pub. And there’s a weird Sigfried & Roy vampire couple from Russia who are one step away from announcing they have almost found “Moose and Squir-rel!”
But beyond all that, this film doesn’t even make internal sense to the series. It’s not like the “Star Wars” prequels having some continuity issues with the original films. After all, those were made two decades apart and were developed by a guy who changed greatly over that time. The “Twilight” movies have all come out within four years of each other, so there’s no excuse.
Yet, we have vampires who don’t die the same way they did in “Eclipse.” We have the Volturi forgetting things that happened only a couple movies ago. We have Bella’s power revealed in “New Moon,” yet everyone’s fantastically surprised to discover it again in this film.
It’d be one thing if there was a sense from this film that it knew its place as a cheesy pulp romance story. Instead, the entire “Twilight” phenomenon is so pretentious. Stephenie Meyer thinks she’s made great art. Why else would she have the most obvious allusions to intellectual pursuits like Shakespeare and chess ever put in a film?
This movie drags through the whisper-thin plot with no sense of chronology. The vampires mope around, playing the piano and reading poetry to each other, even when there’s this impending threat of the Volturi ready to literally rip them apart.
But nothing is worse than the ending, which is so awful that I couldn’t have come up with the idea had I been given $20 million and told to construct the dumbest ending to the entire franchise. Seriously, the ending of Jack Black’s “Gulliver’s Travels” is less insulting and makes more sense than that of “Breaking Dawn – Part II.”
Still, I can’t say I wasn’t entertained on a certain level. I haven’t laughed so hard in a film since I saw “Ted” this summer. From the Looney Tunes quality of the vampire’s Flash-like movements to the oddly rapey scene in which Jacob reveals his fuzzy nature to Charlie, this film is packed with unintentionally hilarious moments. In fact, after watching it, I couldn’t help but wonder if director Bill Condon was intentionally making a comedy but just never let anyone else in on the joke. (Except, he probably told Michael Sheen, who is deliciously over-the-top as the flamboyant leader of the Volturi, channeling pretty much every Bon villain ever.)
Ultimately, “Breaking Dawn – Part II” is utter garbage and intellectually insulting, beyond the pedophilia overtones and general excuse-for-abuse justifications in relationships. Much like “The Human Centipede 2,” “Breaking Dawn: Part 2” completely fails as a serious film, but it makes one heck of an entertaining comedy.