I had a chance to see an advance screening of Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 ahead of Friday’s premiere. It’s a tradition of sorts for my younger brother (the only male in my family who is brave enough to see Twilight) and I to see the latest Twilight installment.
I went into the movie without any expectations. I was looking forward to saying a bittersweet good-bye to a beloved story with like-minded fans. I don’t want to spoil the experience for anyone knowing opinions are purely subjective. Filmmakers will never be able to match the imaginations of loyal fans. I want to share what I felt worked and what fell short. Some spoilers will be revealed so read no further if you don’t want to know what happens.
The CGI was sub par at best and very distracting. I know Twilight is not a big CGI movie but with all the money this franchise generates, it is to be expected that a fair amount of the budget would cover the special effects. It was confounding why a very creepy CGI baby was used for newborn Renesme. It wouldn’t have taken away from anything if a regular baby was used. I understand as the rapidly growing child ages, the filmmakers want the child to still resemble McKenzie Foy, the young actress that plays the older Renesme. There were also scenes where McKenzie Foy looked like she was digitized. It was laughable and distracting.
I have read some reviews where the reviewer felt filmmaker Bill Condon was embracing the camp or “innate absurdity” of the franchise. If it was Condon’s intention to make the movie campy then he isn’t a true fan of the franchise. How serious should we take a reviewer who is using lines like “innate absurdity?” It’s obvious he or she isn’t a fan either. If Condon wasn’t purposely making the movie campy then it says volumes about how the final product ended up.
We get a more extended love scene between Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) – a nice thing for fans, right? It’s disappointing how Condon shot the scene using disjointed flashes of legs, arms, hands and other parts that wasn’t a Pattinson ass shot. Maybe he did it this way in hopes of pleasing the MPAA. It would have been nice to finally get a complete love scene that would have satisfied older fans without scarring the younger ones. A nice long shot of a naked Robert Pattinson would have worked for me.
Michael Sheen’s (Midnight in Paris) Aro was a caricature you would see in one of those movie spoofs like Vampire Sucks. The jump-the-shark moment for Sheen was when he actually cackled and squealed upon meeting Renesme. He reminded me of Ken Jeong’s portrayal of the vampire-like Aro in Vampire Sucks. Aro, Marcus (Christopher Heyerdahl) and Caius (Jamie Campbell Bower) of the Volturi looked like they were in a glam rock band. These are talented actors so the overacting can only be chalked up to flawed direction from the director.
There were so many actors to juggle that most of them barely had lines and were more like stage props. This led to the core cast not doing much but be pretty window dressing. The talented Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies) who is also starring in Lincoln was used to deliver some bad comedic lines.
Charlie (an underused Billy Burke) meets Renesme as an infant and then sees a full-grown version of Renesme during the holidays but nothing is said about her rapid growth other than gee she is much taller. I guess this is covered when Bella gives the blanket explanation of don’t ask there are reasons but she can’t explain.
The first shot of the Volturi looked like there were thousands of them and then the camera pans to a wide shot and now it looks like there are only 20 of them. That got a chuckle out of the audience.
The big twist that was hinted about was used to shock and provide some brief suspense but was merely a fake out for the fans. I don’t know how effective it was because there are many movies adapted from books in which the ending is known and doesn’t take away from the experience. There really is no need to trick or surprise fans. Movie goers are very savvy. It takes a great deal to shock them.
I enjoyed seeing Bella being badass and the synchronized fighting with Edward where they rip off a Volturi’s head was quite a feat. It was nice to see Alice (Ashley Greene), Emmett (Kellen Lutz), Jaspar (Jackson Rathbone), Carlisle (Peter Facinelli), Esme (Elizabeth Reaser) and Rosalie (Nicki Reed) each getting their own close-up shot of a Volturi take down. It was a pretty cool fight scene. There were cheers all around from the audience.
The ending with Bella allowing Edward to see their history through her eyes was sweet. The flash backs from the previous movies in that scene was a nice way to look back. The homage before the end credits of all the actors appearing in the franchise was a nice touch. Bella’s mom Renee Dwyer who was played by Sarah Clarke was noticeably absent from the tribute.
I have to say when I watched Bella and Edward together, all I could think about was the cheating scandal that Stewart was involved in earlier in the year. The line between reality and fiction was blurred. I wanted to scream how could you Bella do that to poor Edward.
Many will disagree with my take on the movie. I didn’t love or hate this final installment. I did enjoy being in a movie theater and sharing the experience with fans of the franchise. Every laugh, groan, scream of dismay was made all the better because of the shared experience going to the movies brings. For two hours we are transported to a place made real on the screen; lifting what we imagined in our minds and putting it into two-dimensional form. That’s always a good take away.