This movie has left me torn about the whole Twilight franchise. I am not on either Team Jacob or Team Edward, and neither do I hate the previous films (with the exception of Breaking Dawn Part 1). There are definitely strong characters in the films, and at moments the script can be funny, genuine and passionate, even if unintentionally. However the main thing that makes my experience unpleasant is how the whole franchise has handled moral issues, and in my opinion this film is the worst of the lot. But before I get to that, lets have a look at this film on the whole.
The story continues from where part 1 left off: Bella (played by Kristen Stewart) is now a vampire due to Edward (played by Robert Pattinson) having to change her to save her life after giving birth to Renesmee, a half human half vampire. And Jacob (played by Taylor Lautner) has imprinted on Renesmee meaning they're going to be soul mates for life. The Volturi basically want to kill the child to prevent her from growing up into the unstable monster that history has shown she will be, even though her case is slightly different. So the Cullen family rallies supporters to testify for the child and we finally have the big showdown between the Cullen + Jacob's pack against the menacing Aro and his army.
Without giving away the entire plot, I can say that there are two very incompatible focuses being interlaced throughout.
On the one hand we are given an extremely self-indulging look at Bella and Ed's love for each other, which in the first half of the film is a 30 minute long visualisation of their codependence. But even the scenes when they consummate are shot in such an unrevealing, cocktease manner you feel like the violent wedding night from Part 1 was done right.
Obviously they did that to keep the film at a rating accessible to their biggest tween audience but why put it in at all when we've already spent 4 previous films watching them stare at each other intently and say "I love you" with elementary school vocabulary. If this is love from the teen girls' perspective I am very afraid for teen boys. Of course this aspect of the film I was already aware of since film one and was not a surprise when I entered the theatre.
On the other hand, we have a superhero origin story to deal with in this film, as Bella explores her abilities as a Vampire and tries to hide it from Charlie (her father, who was kind enough to make an appearance in this film to give a very rushed closure to his character arc). This was a very unexpected, and surprisingly intriguing element of the film which kept me awake. Perhaps it's my bias towards that genre, but honestly I feel that this whole vampire transformation should have happened much earlier in the franchise, so that her development as a vampire can be fleshed out in greater depth.
Honestly it is the more interesting part of this world, but it turns out she is a child prodigy and is able to control her urges and powers within the second act, so that it can be displayed in all is glory for the climax. They have talked about the difficulties of becoming a 'newborn' in earlier films through other side characters, but since the story is essentially a narrative from Bella's perspective, I would think that hearing her monologue about her own struggles in managing life as a vampire warrants its own film rather than being squeezed into this final film.
So you can tell by now I am not a very big fan of Bella's character, but which characters did I like? I liked both Edward and Jacob even if they were fairly one-dimensional. I loved moments of clarity that Edward has throughout the film regarding how much problems his relationship with Bella has caused for everyone. I liked Jacob in previous films because he was perhaps the strongest and most developed character of the main trio, but this movie absolutely destroys it due to his relationship with Renesmee. We'll get to that soon.
I appreciated the climax which really surprised me with how well it was executed. Aro (played by Michael Sheen) was so over the top I just couldn't help but smile at his effort. The action was great, though for the entire climax I almost felt like I was watching an entirely different film compared to the first half. The plot twist did catch me off guard and so, while an isolated section of the film, this whole part of the third act was very engaging.
There were also a big bunch of characters introduced that I have never seen before. They showcase their abilities, fight a bit and by the time I left the cinema I forgot half their names. I think there was one vampire who looked like Robert Downey Jr, his son who looks like Guy Sebastian, a few token racial stereotypes who were thrown away as quickly as they were introduced, and a bunch of blondes. But beyond them I have absolutely no recollection of who the other characters were, and especially none of the Volturi army except for the top guys.
Now for the bit of the film that bothered me the most: the morals.
Each of the Twilight movies has had one central theme which generally orients around a morally gray issue. Twilight was talking about forbidden love, New Moon was talking about self-harm, Eclipse was about putting your personal relationship with someone above everything (and everyone) else. Breaking Dawn Part I was about pro-life versus pro-choice. All of them which were handled poorly. However it turns out Breaking Dawn Part II was the worst of the bunch!
The biggest (and arguably the only) problem I have with this film is the 'destined' relationship between Jacob and Bella's newborn Renesmee. This might be a spoiler, but it really bothered me that they were 'meant to be'. There's a word for this type of relationship between a fully grown adult and a pre-teen adolescent. What is it? That's right, pedophilia.
At the start of the film there is some demonstrable outrage showing that it is definitely wrong, but by end of the film everyone was accepting of his part in the family. Pedophilia is not in the queue of social change, but the way the film depicts and gentle-ify their interactions implies that it will eventually be tolerable, even acceptable, like it would be the next thing after same sex marriage. And this is simply wrong.
(By the way, Edward is like over 100 years old when he first starts dating Bella who was still a teenager in the first movie; I'm sensing a common thread here)
This is really unfortunate because, up to Eclipse, Jacob was my most preferred character in this film. He was good at heart, self-sacrificing, generous and most importantly well developed. However this film completely destroys all respectability and potential for him as a 'role model' by forcing him into being Renesmee's expected partner.
At one point he literally says "I have no choice", with an implication that it is not a medical condition but rather a cultural one. At another point he even went as far as jokingly calling Edward "Dad" after his relationship with Renesmee has been accepted by the Cullens. I was shaking my head at both these scenes. Even if this is all fantasy and not based in reality, trying to rationalise, justify and making tolerable any form of pedophilia in any society is simply wrong. And the fact that this was in the book as well makes me weep for mankind even more.
Fortunately, this is the only moral issue the film addresses poorly. The rest is okay. The music is suitable to the tone of the film, and even though I can't hum any of the tunes right now, I remember them being well composed. The visuals effects are good, the climax was edging on brilliant, and like I said earlier there are many things to laugh at so it wasn't an unbearable experience.
Despite dreading to watch the film at first due to how disappointing and morally concerning Part 1 was, I think Part 2 is definitely a significant improvement, perhaps the best in the franchise as far as watching experience goes. It's still not a good movie per se, but it's not god awful either; just mediocre. And like I said earlier, the best bits of the film are what I didn't expect to be in there. Unfortunately I am still not sold with Bella as a character, even if Kirsten Stewert portrays were really well. And seeing there won't be any more films in this saga, I would say it leaves the fans with horribly twisted concepts of what love is and even more troubling moral sermons. I sincerely hope people know better than to learn how to handle their relationships from these films.
5.0 / 10.0