|Bella's journey from whiny reactive teen to Ripleyesque super-mum.|
And so the fantastically successful commercial juggernaut that is Twiglet drifts to a close, with this polished, camp but ultimately rather silly final film. The movie picks up in media res, with our previously whiny, reactive, pathetic heroine Bella (Kristen Stewart) opening her colour-enhanced, fake-eyelashed eyes as a sparkly vampire, all her spider-senses tingling. The first forty-minutes of the flick see her hop skip and jump through a new world of heightened colour and smell, astonishingly controlling her urge to feed off humans, and coming to terms with the fact that her child, Renesmee, survived because her old flirt-friend and werewolf (Taylor Lautner) "imprinted" on her. And where's Bella's husband in all this? Looking on smugly as his "new-born" wife kicks ass and looks hotter than ever.
In the movie's second act, Bella's in-laws, The Cullens, gather up a brood of global vampires to testify to the fact that Renesmee isn't an out-of-control, dangerous child vampire, but actually a half-human cute little moppet. Their aim is to reason with the Vampire world's equivalent to the Papacy, led by Michael Sheen's hilariously camp Aro, that Renesmee shouldn't be killed, and failing that, to do battle. This leads us to the final act of the film, which seeks to give fans of the almost absurdly bloodless novels a humdinger of an action sequence, while also remaining faithful to the more talky, banal denouement of the book. Suffice to say that, as one would expect in this world of emasculated, proto Christian revival vampires, all ends happily for the good guys, and even for the bad guys, because basically the entire plot motivation of this movie has been a gross misunderstanding.
There's a lot to like in this instalment of the series. Production values are top notch. Guillermo Navarro's photography of Bella's newly heightened world is beautiful; the bleach blonde dye jobs on the Cullens are less cheap; the CGI wolves are superb; and the Volturi superbly over-the-top. The acting is just fine, with the exception of Stewart who really does sell it well. Michael Sheen is, of course, stunning, and Dakota Fanning seems to share in his sense of mischief. I can honestly say I had a fun time watching this movie.
Of course, it doesn't really hang together. Aro's speech to pre-emptively kill the unknown quantity that is Renesmee kept cracking me up as a caricature of Tony Blair's pro Iraqi war campaign. The knowing homo-eroticism of Lautner stripping off for Charlie (Billy Burke) broke any seriousness this movie might have had. And, as with the X-MEN movies, I'm always struck by the disparity and ill-use of the super-powers handed out to the different characters. Bella has self- control and a defensive shield. Awesome. But this other guy can CONTROL THE ELEMENTS!!! I mean, isn't that game over for the Volturi right there? And as for Alice's power to see the future, so crucial in allowing the screenwriters to have their cake and eat it, if she can see various potential outcomes, doesn't that rather confuse which of her prophesies to believe in?
Ah well, I guess this isn't a movie we should think about too deeply. In today's recessionary climate it seems like a nostalgic throw-back to the boom years in which it was written - when beautiful people drove beautiful cars, and a virginal young girl who waited till marriage would be gifted a beautiful cottage stocked with pretty handbags and shoes. I mean, who needs an education anyway? And let's not even get into the sheer creepiness of poor Renesmee being promised, in utero, to a guy who's already gone through puberty. To all those pop-culture commentators praising Bella as a modern heroine I say, no no and again no.
But like I said, better not to overthink it. Better to enjoy the camp hilarity of Sheen's maniacal laugh and Gap ad models ripping each other's heads off.
BREAKING DAWN PART 2 is on release pretty much everywhere except Armenia, Cambodia, Germany, Singapore and India where it opens next week; Hong Kong where it opens on December 20th and Japan where it opens on December 28th.