Director: Bill Condon
Runtime: 116 minutes
It is difficult to say much of anything about this franchise that hasn’t already been said by now. Equal parts awkward, campy (not the fun kind) and derivative, the saga’s fifth installment makes no real attempt to improve upon its predecessors. In turn, whether you are a die-hard fan or someone just looking for a place to take a nap, Breaking Dawn: Part Two delivers exactly what viewers of any demographic have come to expect of the tween-centric franchise.
Opening after the birth of Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart) Cullen’s vamp-baby, the film staggers through scenes of the newlyweds enjoying Bella’s recent turn as a vampire (no sleep, no food, lots of sex, super strength and sparkly skin), before focusing on their rapidly-growing daughter, Renesmee (introduced as an off-putting CG baby, replaced later by an off-putting Mackenzie Foy).
Half-human, half-vampire, Renesmee is deemed a threat to the secrecy of the vampire race by Aro (Michael Sheen, who seems to be having a little bit of fun this time around) and the other Volturi, or hoity-toity vampires for those just jumping in. The Cullen clan joins forces with Taylor Lautner‘s wolf folk, and what is supposed to play as a brewing rebellion reads more like a pilot on the CW or ABC Family.
The film then spends its remaining hour building and building…and building.
And then it ends.
What seems like much ado about nothing amounts to just that. The only reason things come to a head at all is thanks to a flash-forward in structure (director Bill Condon‘s sole inspired flourish), allowing for the “epic” battle these kind of long-standing franchises have come to require. Breaking Dawn‘s barely serviceable climax takes up all of five minutes in the film’s total runtime and takes a direction I didn’t quite expect, but am extremely fascinated by; the film goes out of its way to remove any and all emotional stakes. While the endgame of this decision is unclear, the resulting revelation is crystal: if you have yet to feel like The Twilight Saga has wasted your time, Breaking Dawn: Part Two makes damn sure that you will now.
I could continue to breathe fire about the film’s shortcomings, but that list is unsurprisingly long. While a great many things, this fifth installment – and the franchise as a whole – is harmless, above all else. Want to ogle Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner? Go right ahead. Want some schmaltzy melodrama and pensive Kristen Stewart ticks (her face indicates that she spends most of the film with a perpetual need to relieve herself)? Look no further.
Breaking Dawn: Part Two may signal an end to an era, but there will always be another Twilight Saga. And you know what? Those films will be harmless too.
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