As the films in the Twilight series have steadily improved in quality since the 2008 original, it’s not only appropriate but completely gratifying that Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is by far the best yet.
After the plodding fan service of Breaking Dawn – Part 1, which turned 10 minutes of story into a two-hour tribute to Bella and Edward’s relationship, Part 2 moves (comparatively) briskly towards a sweeping climax that not only brings the franchise full circle but delivers a rousing adventure that should appeal even to non-fans.
Picking up immediately after the events of Breaking Dawn – Part 1, Bella (Kristen Stewart) was transformed into a vampire in order to save her life during childbirth. Equipped with superhuman strength and speed that exceeds even that of the Cullens, Bella tries to get her new abilities under control, even as she embarks on motherhood with newborn Renesmee.
Much to Bella and Edward’s (Robert Pattinson) dismay, Jacob (Taylor Lautner) imprinted on Renesmee — he formed an indelible bond with the child — and vows to protect her at any cost. But when Renesmee is mistaken for a deadly immortal child, the newlyweds are forced to enlist him — and anyone else they can find — to stop Aro (Michael Sheen) from sentencing her and the Cullens to death for harboring what they believe is the most dangerous creature in the vampires’ world.
As a single-serving film and a finale for the series, Breaking Dawn – Part 2 fully satisfies. Compared to its predecessor, which languished in the minutiae of Bella and Edward’s wedding and, of course, consummating that marriage, it’s a gauntlet of activity, throttling through the set-up of the Volturi’s vendetta against the Cullens and wrapping up with a truly epic battle, and one made even more spectacular because it’s absolutely violent as hell.
Moreover, screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg and director Bill Condon stage a confrontation that manages to have real emotional stakes. As rousing as is the proposition of literally ripping people’s heads off — which happens a lot – the emotional dimensions of each triumph or tragedy are always accurately pinpointed and maximized. And especially fans will find themselves on a roller coaster of surprise and shock as the fates are determined for characters they both love and hate.
Even as the ensemble cast seems to quadruple in size — if only to provide more background action in the final fight — Pattinson, Stewart, and Lautner do their best work of the series, as if seeming to save their effort in order to leave the best impression upon their fans, not to mention the annals of cinema.
That said, Lautner still struggles to differentiate between the petty sniping of adolescence and a more mature, well-intentioned sarcasm. But Stewart embraces Bella’s sense of empowerment as if it’s her own, and Pattinson wisely steps out of the way to allow his co-star the full berth of a transformation that will completely thrill fans as much as it (partially) redeems her character to critics.
While I won’t spoil any of its surprises, the final act of this film ranks among the most surprising and satisfying of 2012, and that’s no small feat. Further, Condon has really pulled off something with this final installment that seemed previously impossible — namely, making a real movie, or the closest thing to it, not just a Twilight movie.
Ultimately, Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is richly rewarding — a thrill ride that will resonate with fans, and remarkably, connect even with non-fans — and it leaves behind a legacy that deserves to be remembered by both.
Watch the Celebuzz interview with The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2 director Bill Condon below.
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