It's here, it's finally here! The final installment of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn 2. We're feeling a little wistful here. It's been a long, crazy journey, and we've enjoyed every last, juicy detail. But enough about us. You want to hear about the movie!
The big picture: They put on a roaring, rollicking show for you fans, and it's not just all high-tech razzle-dazzle. The movie is bursting with CGI wizardry, and I could have done with less of that. But there's still plenty of old-fashioned, white-knuckle suspense, thrills, and excitement. You get just enough smoochy romance between Bella and Edward. It's demented and it's FUN! And overall I think fans will leave slightly buzzed if a little tearful over the series now being over. I should mention -- I'm not a HUGE Twilight fan so I'm not going to have the same perspective as some of you. But I did watch with fans' expectations in mind.
And now: SPOILER ALERT! DANGER WILL ROBINSON! SPOILERS!
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For heaven's sake, if you want this movie to be a surprise, avert your eyes and read the rest of this post later!
Okay, first let's just get my one big criticism out of the way: Too! Much! CGI! Do we really need to see golden sparks spray from Kristen's head in order to get that she's having the best sex of her life? They really pile it on to illustrate Kristen's enhanced senses as a vampire -- and so many other things. But they leave nothing to the imagination. Worst of all is the CGI baby Renesmee. It's probably the best baby computers can generate at this point in time -- but it still looks totally creepy. What's more, I think it was totally unnecessary.
More from The Stir: 'Breaking Dawn 2' Movie by the Numbers (SPOILERS)
I think that sometimes the computer-generated bells and whistles get in the way of what's, well, HUMAN about the story. Some of the emotional connection is lost under all that noise. Special effects come across as the flashy up-stager of the film. Was the budget really so huge the producers felt it necessary to just sprinkle CGI everywhere like fairy dust? Because that stuff's not magic.
Okay, so with that out of the way, let's get to the fun stuff. The movie picks up just as Bella is waking up to her vampire self -- and she's spectacular. She needs to hunt, immediately, and suddenly she's outpacing Edward in a run through the trees. They're leaping all over the forest. It's a major departure for Bella to be so animalistic, but this is what she is during that first hunt scene -- and she almost loses control. It's one of the most thrilling scenes in the movie.
I wish we'd seen that same animalistic lust in the sex scenes, but they really toned that down for the kids. I go into this in my post about how appropriate BD2 is for tweens. It starts out promising, with Edward literally ripping off Bella's shirt. But basically it's all just soft-focus, bare-shouldered gazing, slow kissing, etc. You'll just have to believe them when they talk about how awesome their vampire sex is, because you sure as hell aren't going to see it.
Bella and Edward are sweet as parents, but because Renesmee's growth is accelerated and because the CGI baby and then child are so distracting, I never got a deep sense of Bella's bonding with her daughter. And you see even less between Edward and Renesmee -- I'm not even sure if I saw him hold her as a baby.
The bit about Jacob imprinting on Renesmee is really funny, actually. Bella is furious with him. It's a great scene. And of course, it's a scene that makes sense of Bella and Jacob's relationship through the whole series, so that's very satisfying.
Bella discovers her gifts bit by bit -- on the hunt, arm wrestling with Emmett, just before the battle, and then finally the last one at the very end. Her most useful power, in the film, is her ability to shield herself and others from evil magic. Here's one rare effective use of CGI. It's as if the air and light around Bella and the person she's protecting are warped. It's clear but subtle, not too intrusive.
Then there's the battle scene, and it's gory. Fans will feel like their hearts are being ripped out when they see some of their most beloved characters being torn literally from limb to limb. You'll laugh like a maniac when villains are torn asunder. Hopefully the book prepared you for this? I'm not even that invested in these characters, and I found it shocking.
Well ... you heard there was a twist that's radically different from the book? It's radical all right. Some may find it cheesy. I was actually kind of relieved to see how things turned out. It was almost funny. I'll say no more except that it's really Alice who saves the day -- and common sense and prudence win in the end. And wow is Michael Sheen ever creepy.
Contrary to rumor, though, there is no vampire and werewolf dance at the end during the credits. I stayed to the very last frame of the credits and nope! I hear that's actually going to be on the collectors' DVD.
The filmmakers managed to find a clever and very sweet excuse for giving us a montage of some of the great romantic moments between Bella and Edward: The moment they first laid eyes on each other, the way they fell in love, the way they fought for each other. The movie ends with the word "Forever." It's a valentine to the saga's most loyal fans.
What are you most excited about seeing during Breaking Dawn 2?
Image via Summit Entertainment