Note: This article contains spoilers.
I have a love-hate relationship with The Twilight Saga. Aside from having horrible dialogue and egregiously melodramatic story lines, sometimes it’s just offensive if you’re remotely liberal, because Meyer’s conservative, Mormon ideology is potent.
So why do I feel compelled to watch every Twilight movie? Goddamn if I know. I’ve tried to articulate my reasons before, which include but are not limited to: series in general are alluring; being a vampire or werewolf in the Twilight world sounds like an awesome deal—you get all the pros (in addition to the special powers supernatural beings of the Twilight world possess: telepathy, divination, the ability to inflict pain with your mind or shoot electricity from your palms, weather manipulation . . . hold the phone, are we talking about Twilight or X-Men?) without the traditional pitfalls; heaping amounts of sexual tension; and engrossing battle scenes. But more than anything, I’m pretty sure the main reason Twilight allures me is because it appeals to my inner 12-year-old who pines for an obsessive love affair, which I’m sure is true for many other Twilight fans as well.
So what of the latest installment in the series? Well, Breaking Dawn: Part II is by far the worst film in the saga. Primary points of contention:
1. Much of the sexual tension is gone now that Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewert) are free to bang unencumbered by chastity vows or severe mismatches in physical strength. Also gone is the desperation of Edward and Bella’s love affair. In each previous film, usually something or someone stood in the way of their relationship—the Volturi, Charlie (Billy Burke), Jacob (Taylor Lautner), even Edward himself. This resistance inundated their relationship with yearning and passion, and thus, made it much more enticing for viewers. But in Breaking Dawn: Part II, no one stands in the way and their love becomes a matter of fact rather than something they have to fight for. Although the dissipated desperation makes for a healthier relationship, it is much less intriguing cinematically.
2. Bella faces the challenges of being a “newborn” with little to no difficulty. Throughout the saga, Edward emphasizes how awful it is being a newborn vampire. You’re voracious and uncontrollable, and being around humans is excruciatingly painful if you cannot rip them to shreds. But Bella didn’t seem to face these common problems. The first time she goes hunting, she smells a mountain climber from a mile off; the scent of his blood possesses her and she chases after him. Yet when she reaches the man—in such close proximity the scent of his blood must be overpowering—Edward easily dissuades her from devouring him. Shouldn’t a physical fight between Edward and Bella have ensued as he attempted to restrain her? It would have been significantly more interesting, in any case.
Additionally, Bella apparently has no trouble holding baby Renesmee despite the blood flowing through the infant’s veins, and no trouble being in the same room with or even hugging her dad. The latter is particularly frustrating considering that Edward reprimanded Jacob for inviting Charlie over because his presence would be torturous for Bella—like jamming a white hot branding iron down her throat, or something to that effect. But Bella receives her father easily. Sure, maybe Bella is supposed to be “exceptional,” and thus can overcome the challenges faced by a newborn more easily than others, but I don’t want her to be exceptional. That’s boring, and too damn convenient—I’m sorry Stephanie Meyer and Melissa Rosenberg if you didn’t want to depict your heroine as a bloodthirsty, soulless monster, but if that’s the case, you shouldn’t have delineated the pitfalls of being a newborn to begin with. And why write about bloodthirsty, soulless monsters that are hardly bloodthirsty, soulless, or monstrous? Furthermore, your heroine would have been better rounded, more sympathetic, and much more compelling had you allowed her to struggle with the difficulties of being a vampire as she attempted to overcome them.
3. The Vulturi’s explanation for killing Renesemee is preposterous. The Vulturi’s leader, Aro (Michael Sheen), initially wants to kill Renesmee because he believes she’s a vampire child and thus poses a threat to them all—vampire children are uncontrollable and prone to mass murdering humans, thus making it difficult for vampires to conceal their existence. But after discovering that Renesmee is actually half mortal (like everyone’s favorite teenage witch) and that no law was broken, he decides he still wants to kill her, for reasons unclear. He makes some strange, illogical argument about the rapid development of human technology posing a threat to vampires, and in such uncertain times, vampires can only depend on the known, and because this half mortal child represents the unknown, she must die. This rationale is out of place, considering that technology as a threat to vampires has never come up in the saga before. And I cannot think of anything we’ve invented that could conceivably kill a vampire, nor am I aware of any extant vampire tracking technology. Basically, it feels like the writers were hell-bent on Aro being hell-bent on killing Renesmee and starting a war, but evidently they were strapped for a legitimate motivation.
4. The revelation that the fight scene—by far the most engaging part of the movie—was merely a prediction and not a reality was incredibly disappointing. I was actually excited when Edward and Bella killed Aro, thereby avenging Carlisle’s (Peter Facinelli) death and obliterating the Volturi’s power. And who wasn’t happy to see Jane (Dakota Fanning) eviscerated by a werewolf? I mean, come on, her power as a vampire is the ability to inflict unbearable physical pain on others with just her mind (Cruciatis Curse, anyone?). Her character has always been depicted as evil and sadistic; she throws a kid in a fire with relish for god’s sake.
And the fact that the entire battle was merely Alice’s vision means nothing actually happens. Everyone stands around for an hour and a half of the film’s running time, worriedly discussing what the Vulturi may or may not do. When they finally meet up with the Volturi, everyone exchanges a few words, a few people touch hands, and then they all go home peacefully. Ugh. How anticlimactic. Side note: evidently, the book Breaking Dawn was anticlimactic and not cinema friendly, so screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg consulted book author Stephanie Meyer and they agreed to write the fake battle scene for the film.
Among the few redeeming aspects of Breaking Dawn: Part II were Jacob for once not screaming like a little bitch about Bella choosing Edward over him or about anything else, rendering Taylor Lautner much more likeable for this viewer; Bella beating up Jacob for imprinting on Renesmee; Dakota Fanning throwing a 2-year-old vampire into a blazing fire (sick and twisted, yes, but interesting!); and the battle scene with vampires and werewolves tearing each other’s heads off. Beyond these aspects, the movie was pretty banal and disappointing—this from someone who doesn’t expect much from Twilight to begin with.
Breaking Dawn Part II could probably have been condensed down to 20 minutes and tacked onto the end of Breaking Dawn Part I. This film was too obviously produced to milk the franchise for all it’s worth, like when television producers renew a series egregiously past its expiration date to make more money; doing so just doesn’t make for quality entertainment. When a film or show goes sour, it has hardly anything new or interesting to offer its audience and ends up relying on old tropes. That’s why we had to yet again watch Bella and Edward lie in a field of flowers and stare adoringly into one another’s eyes; watch another montage of their romance played to the same score we’ve been listening to for the last five years; and hear more hackneyed, exaggerated, nauseatingly gushy, myopic statements typical of high schoolers: “Now you know, no one will ever love anyone as much as I love you,” “Oh, I can think of someone.”
If you haven’t done so, you should watch Robert Pattinson’s take on The Twilight Saga here.