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Film Review: Twilight Breaking Dawn Part II (Let’s Be Honest, I’m Not Changing Anyone’s Mind Here)

It’s hard to think of anything more redundant than reviewing the last film of a franchise as polarizing as The Twilight Saga. Most people by now have long made up their minds about this franchise. In fact if you haven’t, I’d venture a guess and say that you are a) over the age of 90, b) living in North Korea (in which case I’m impressed with Arthur’s circulation), or c) became lost in the woods as a child, were raised by wolves, and only recently returned to civilized society. Though to the folks in that latter category, I got to say – I think this might be your kind of movie.

Frankly, if I took one thing away from Breaking Dawn – Part 2 it’s that whatever your expectations are going in, that’s likely going to be your impression coming out. My advice – if you’re a fan of this series just put the paper down and go see the film (or you know, read a different article… I have editors… smart, talented editors). There’s nothing that’s going to stop you from loving this movie, nor should there be. This is the  cherry on top of your years of loyal fandom. Enjoy it.

With that said, Breaking Dawn – Part 2 isn’t likely to endear anyone new to the franchise either. Many of the familiar problems that have plagued the series in the past – wooden acting, terrible dialogue, a complete lack of any sort of subtext – are all back. And somehow, 5 films into the franchise, there’s still apparently a need to explain the nuances of vampire politics through long boring scenes of exposition, mostly between characters who should already know the ins and outs of that particular subject to begin with.

Yet what I was most disappointed with was actually how the one big development of Part 2 was handled – Bella’s conversion from human to vampire. Now don’t get me wrong, there were certainly some fun scenes of her transitioning into her newfound abilities. Part 2 seems to find the levity the previous installment lacked with much more ease, and it’s better for it. My problem is that, for the most part, Bella has always been a rather weak female lead. A lot of the time it seems like the previous films in the series revolve solely around placing her in situations such that she can then be subsequently saved by one of her doting leading men. For once the series had the chance to place Bella in a position of strength, and save for the odd surface deep show of power, Part 2 squanders the opportunity. Bella still feels more like a back seat traveller on this little adventure than the one who’s driving it. Not what you want from your protagonist’s final outing.

Part of me questions the decision to split Breaking Dawn into two movies. It seems to be common practice these days to split the last book of a popular literary franchise into two installments – Harry Potter did it and they just announced the same for The Hunger Games – but Part 2 of Breaking Dawn felt a little thin. Though fans of the series might enjoy it, the movie spends far too much time basking in the glow of Edward and Bella’s relationship, especially since all of its drama has long since been dealt with in the previous iterations. It also features one of the most gratuitously inserted action sequences in recent memory, which ironically provided the film with some of its most  poignant moments until it was undercut by a deflating ending twist.

For the most part, Breaking Dawn – Part 2 lacks the intensity one would like to see from a franchise closing the book on its final chapter. But in the end it’s a love letter to the fans of the series and by that criteria it accomplishes all it has to. I don’t foresee any disappointed faces walking out of the theatre.

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