Title: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2
Cast: Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan/Cullen), Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen), Taylor Lautner (Jacob Black), Mackenzie Foy (Renesmee Cullen), Peter Facinelli (Carlisle Cullen), Elizabeth Reaser (Esme Cullen), Nikki Reed (Rosalie Hale), Kellan Lutz (Emmett Cullen), Jackson Rathbone (Jasper Hale), Ashley Greene (Alice Cullen), Billy Burke (Charlie Swan), Michael Sheen (Aro)
Director: Bill Condon
The Basics: Based on the second half of the fourth and final volume in Stephenie Meyer’s worldwide literary phenomenon, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 picks up where Part 1 left off, with Bella awakening to a life as a newborn vampire after the birth of her daughter, Renesmee. This half-human, half-vampire child draws the attention of the dangerous Volturi, who plan to attack the Cullens as punishment for creating what they believe to be a dangerous “immortal child” (aka child vampire). While some aspects of this film are stronger than any of the others in the series (Bella’s character most of all), the failure of the much-hyped “twist” proves that the inherent weaknesses of the source material are too much to overcome, except in the eyes of the most ardent fans, who will be especially drawn to the surprisingly emotional ending.
M.V.P. (Most Valuable Performer): Kristen Stewart has never looked better than she did in this film, and I mean that as both a beautiful young woman and an actress. There’s a strength in her performance that was largely missing from the other four films. It seems that giving Bella a purpose and plot beyond Edward and Jacob also gave Stewart purpose in her performance. The smiles feel more genuine, the passion feels less forced, and the happiness Bella feels in her new life is palpable. The maturity she gives to Bella this time around really surprised me; I especially liked the depth of chemistry between Stewart and Pattinson this time around. There is a warmth between them that feels more interesting than the obsessive, heavy-breathing “passion” that used to pass for their relationship, and a lot of that credit should go to Stewart, who I always saw as the one dragging that onscreen relationship down in previous installments. That warmth extended to her chemistry with Foy as well; I was downright shocked at how good Stewart is at playing a mother. This film was the first and only chance for Bella to show her strength as a character, and Stewart proved herself more than ready for the task.
Scene Stealer: Billy Burke has always been the scene-stealer extraordinaire in this series, and this was no exception. His dry humor, believable warmth, and undercurrent of genuine emotion have made Charlie Swan one of the most memorable and lovable characters in the Twilight movies. All of those wonderful elements are present in his performance once again, and though his time onscreen is short, Burke makes the most of it, creating some of the most humorous and poignant moments in the entire film.
Bring the Tissues? The best way to answer that question is to answer this one: Are you a fan of the series or have you ever been a fan of it (even on just a “guilty pleasure” level)? If the answer is no, then I think you can skip packing the Kleenex. But if the answer is yes, then you’ll definitely find yourself getting at least a little misty-eyed. Even as someone whose relationship with this series has soured over time, I found myself wiping my eyes by the end.
Should I Stay or Should I Go? I honestly don’t know the answer to that question this time around. Our theater was full and the people in our row were in a hurry to leave, so I only stayed until about halfway through the credits. However, you should definitely stay for at least the beginning of the credits to see a very nice (and very comprehensive) tribute to all of the actors who’ve appeared in the films throughout this series.
Most Memorable Scene: I know most people will probably answer this with “the fight scene,” but I have too many conflicting feelings about that sequence to single it out in this review. For me, the scene with the most lasting impact—the one I’m still thinking about hours later—is the ending. As Bella lets Edward read her thoughts for the first time, we see flashbacks to the most pivotal moments in their relationship throughout all five films. The way the series is wrapped up in this final scene between Edward and Bella struck a very moving and nostalgic chord with me. (I’m also a sucker for Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years,” which was used to beautiful effect in this scene.) Then, the film concludes with a shot of the final page of the novel, which I found a very nice nod to fans that have been with the series since the books were published. I applaud the writers, Condon, Stewart, and Pattinson for creating such a fitting and surprisingly affecting conclusion to the series.