I am aware I was one of the voices in the shrill chorus of hate that greeted the first part of this two-part Twilight finale. And I do not regret that. It was one of the worst films of 2011. But while Part 2 isn’t exactly one of the best of 2012, it is still a standout entry in the series. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (to give it its full, verbose title) is a very good picture – a strong, confident and very entertaining finale to a franchise that has been far more interesting and diverse than many people would like to admit.
This film opens up with an beautiful opening title sequence set to a lush rearrangement of the many music themes the series has had (including a sample of Alexandre Desplat’s utterly sumptuous score for New Moon). We are then thrown into the new world that Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart, better than usual) – or, as we should say, Bella Cullen – is now inhabiting. She is a vampire and is enjoying her newfound strength and speed, and having sex with her husband Edward (the ever dreamy Robert Pattinson). Meanwhile, her school crush, the wolf boy Jacob, is attracted to her toddler daughter (who is half human, half vampire). He can’t help this borderline paedophilic trait. He has formed an attachment with Renesmee (I know, what a name) that will become sexual when she reaches adulthood (which isn’t as far off as it seems, since she grows at an alarming rate).
But all is not sound in love and vamps. The Volturi – a sort of vampire government – mistakenly believe the Cullen family have illegally turned a child into a vampire, so they start their march to dole out punishment. To stand up to them, the Cullens join forces with their wolf mates (Jacob’s family and friends) and gather their relatives from abroad. The threat of violence hangs in the air, and when the Volturi arrive, headed by the creepy Michael Sheen (pictured left) and icy Dakota Fanning, things do get a little explosive.
The movie edges towards its conclusion with a spectacularly staged battle scene. Bill Condon made a wreck of Breaking Dawn Part 1, but here he directs with an assured hand. It’s a surprisingly brutal film, and I have to say that I’m stunned that it was awarded a 12A certificate (though this is of course no criticism of the film itself, but rather the increasingly odd classification decisions of the British Board of Film Classification).
The highlight of the film is a brilliantly handled and very audacious twist. I won’t give it away, and even those who have read Stephanie Meyer’s novel are in for a real punch in the stomach when it’s revealed.
The cinematography by Guillermo del Toro’s regular collaborator Guillermo Navarro gives the movie a bright, glossy look that really works well during the action scenes. Occasionally the quick cutting is a little bit much, and the same goes for the knowing humour. In some scenes the comedy works (a high point is a surprisingly homoerotic scene between Bella’s dad and a naked Jacob), but in others it makes some of the serious scenes unintentionally hilarious. But unlike last year’s offering, this doesn’t derail the film as a whole.
I make no apologies for singing the praises of this film. It’s fast paced, exciting and ends the series on a warm note which should send all Twihards home safe in the knowledge that their favourite book series ended on a big screen high. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but it’s made for a specific audience, and it’s clearly done with love, hard work, and comes off very well indeed.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (2012), directed by Bill Condon, is distributed in the UK by Entertainment One, Certificate 12A.