The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2
End of an “era”
There’s a lot that can be said about the Twilight saga. Series author Stephenie Meyer has been called everything from a goddess on Earth to the metaphorical stake in the vampire genre’s heart. The series has launched its three stars to A-list fame, though their acting chops remain questionable. Team Edward verses Team Jacob has been debated with greater intensity than the Presidential election. Legions of people genuinely believe the series is among the worst pieces of literature and film ever created, and legions of people vehemently believe the opposite. The only thing that can be said with certainty about the series is that it’s popular, whether warranted or not. The series joined the most iconic of all pop culture sensations the day the first movie was released.
I went to the theater around 7:00 to pick up a ticket for the midnight show. The theater I go to has a steady business, never fully crowded, but I wanted guarantee myself a seat in the small chance the show sold out. One of the workers told me to be there an hour early, which greatly troubled me. They were playing the movie in five different theaters, and midnight wasn’t even the first showing. I compromised and showed up around 11:15, except by that time the line snaked across the upper lobby, down the stairs, circled around the lower lobby, and ended outside the door. I’ve never seen the theater even a little crowded, let alone packed, and there I stood, lost in the sea of dominantly female Twihards, a fan base which I had radically underestimated. Whether the series ending disappoints you because you’re a fan waving goodbye to your favorite series, or it means you have to stop making Twilight jokes, the series left its bite mark in pop culture.
Whether this is a good or bad thing is unknown.
Where to begin with Part 2? Okay, the story. After Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) turned his wife Bella (Kristen Stewart) into a vampire so she wouldn’t die giving birth to their half-human half-vampire daughter, things in the Cullen household seemed peaceful for the first time in years. Their daughter, the bizarrely named Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy) grows at a rapid pace, appearing to be twelve at just a few months of age. Never to be outdone, Jacob the werewolf (Taylor Lautner) ‘imprints’ on Renesmee, essentially declaring them lifelong soul mates (adding a new layer to his werewolf predator status).
While out catching snowflakes one day, Renesmee is spotted by a passerby vampire, who believes that Edward and Bella have broken vampire code by turning a child. The Volturi, the actually creepy council of vampires meant to govern all other vampires around the world, hear about Renesmee, and travel to tiny Forks, Washington to punish the Cullens. Refusing to give up their forever together, Bella, Edward, Jacob, and the Cullens gather vampires from around the world to fight against the Volturi.
Do we even discuss the acting? I think we have to. Oddly enough, Stewart showed more life and emotion as a pulse-free vampire than she has anytime while her character actually was alive in the series (not that that’s saying much). Other than that, Michael Sheer as Aro, head of the Volturi, was the only one who seemed to realize that people would actually be watching this movie, and did a commendable job as the film’s antagonist. Everyone else… uh…
At least the cast seemed to have finally embraced the excessive awkwardness these movies inadvertently suffer from. Special effects such as Bella learning to use her newfound vampire strength or the werewolves prowling the screen are distracting and inconsistent (at some points the werewolves look believable – at others their paws don’t appear to be in contact with the ground). Situations that were meant to be serious were – the standoff between the two vampire armies at the beginning of the climax felt more like an awkward middle school dance where no one was brave enough to approach the dance floor, rather than the climax to a five-part saga. In the end, the film’s purposeful jokes (which, to be fair, actually were funny) were outweighed by jokes that could be made about the film.
As soon as the script diverts away from the book’s sludgy story, however, a whisper of life is breathed into the long-dead saga. To spoil the climactic scene would be to spoil the only decent part of the film, and I don’t want to detract from the movie’s single redeeming quality. Remaining faithful to the book but adding an entirely unexpected layer to the story, the climax felt almost epic. For a few short, confusing moments, I actually felt a hint of investment in the characters and the events unfolding (albeit in a completely over-the-top way) on the screen. It was a brief flicker of investment, but it keeps the movie saga’s finale from being as dull and pointless as the book.
It also proves that, somewhere behind this polarizing and objectively terrible series, something went right. Twilight revived the vampire genre in pop culture. Harry Potter made reading cool, and Twilight leapfrogged off its back and exposed reading to an even wider demographic. What can’t be complimented about the series’s storytelling can be in its audience targeting.
But five years down the line, is anyone going to actually miss this series? (Christina Perry thinks we’ll still love the series a thousand years from now, but I’m not as sure.) Some claim the release of Part 2 is the tearful the end to a beloved era. I’m having trouble picturing it. Maybe it’s because I don’t hang out with 12 year old girls.