Not long ago, I gathered all my Twilight-related writing into a blog-post called Everything I Ever Wrote About the Twilight Saga, and thought that would be an end to it. I hadn’t intended to write about the fifth and (presumably, though you never know where a money-making franchise is concerned) final film in the series.
But then a funny thing happened – I found myself enjoying The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 more than all the other films put together.
After a cursory glance at the reviews and related message-boards, I am once again struck by the vitriol directed at these films – a lot of it, one suspects, by people who have never even watched them, but who nevertheless go out of their way to denigrate them. There are legitimate criticisms to be made about these stories, much as there are legitimate criticisms to be made about superhero movies, or lunkhead action pics. But films aimed at the young male demographic invariably get a free pass, whereas it’s apparently OK to heap derision on films that cater to young female romantic fantasies. It’s apparently not enough to ignore them, the way most of us generally ignore things that don’t interest us – you have to be seen to sneer, and you have to let as many people as possible know that you’re sneering.
It’s true that if I had a teenage daughter, I would hope she’d be more interested in The Hunger Games, which I think is better written, more challenging and more stimulating than Stephenie Meyer‘s tetralogy. But the first part of Suzanne Collins‘s trilogy would probably never have been filmed had it not been for the success of the Twilight franchise, which has shown that, contrary to what Hollywood once seemed to think, there is a market out there for films aimed at young women.
So here, for the record, are some of the notes I jotted down during Breaking Dawn – Part 2. This is not a formal review, but I did retro-edit them into a semblance of order. They contain SPOILERS – but I will issue warnings before the major ones.
The film opens with a lovely Carter Burwell theme I hadn’t noticed in the previous episodes, and credits with such widely spaced letters they’re quite difficult to read. (Credits in ultra-widely spaced type seems to be a trend – see also Rust and Bone.) Bella is more interesting now she’s a vampire – catches a mountain lion in mid-leap. Hurrah! All the boring abstinence, passivity, men controlling her, pro-foetus propaganda, S & M sex etc is in the past. More or less.
The Cullens are all present and correct and standing around. (What do vampires do when they’re not drinking blood? Neither Meyer nor the film-makers seem to have given this much thought.) But now we’re stuck with Bella and Edward’s daughter – Renesmee. FFS. Director Bill Condon and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg can’t do much with Meyer’s more idiotic conceits. At first, she’s a chuckling CGI-faced baby, then she grows really, really fast. At this rate, won’t she be dead before she’s 13?
But wait, this is not a growth disorder like Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome – it’s a form of Twilight-itis, which means it’s another thing to which Meyer hasn’t given much thought. Renesmee is just perfect and will be perfect for ever, just like Edward, who has (in what is probably my favourite line from the books, though I can’t remember which volume it was), “the most beautiful soul, more beautiful than his brilliant mind or his incomparable face or his glorious body.”
Bella is cross with Jacob, who is already sniffing wolfishly around Renesmee. “You imprinted on my daughter!” Well, that’s one way of putting it. “You nicknamed my daughter after the Loch Ness monster!” And that’s another.
Edward has a surprise for Bella, who says, “I still hate surprises – that hasn’t changed.” WHAT KIND OF BORING PERSON HATES SURPRISES? Anyway, the surprise is a kitsch chocolate-boxy cottage where they can have sex as much as they want. Because, apparently, vampires don’t sleep. (This must be incredibly boring for them – imagine a life with no dreams.) Cue for smoochy interlude with extreme close-ups of skin, eyelashes and kissing to emo songs. Gives an impression of nakedness and sex without actually showing nakedness or sex.
Jacob takes his clothes off in front of Bella’s father.
Bella gets tutored in how to pass for human in her dad’s presence. Contact lenses to hide the red eyes. Don’t move too fast. Remember to blink, and pretend to breathe. Don’t sit up too straight etc. This bit is fun.
Bella vs Emmett arm-wrestling engenders a certain amount of excitement in this viewer: will it be like Cronenberg’s The Fly? (Alas, no.) Bella punches a rock to pieces. “I was born to be a vampire,” she says. Just think, if Edward had bitten her three books ago how much more entertaining this entire saga would have been.
Renesmee’s unnatural growth spurt is concerning everyone, all the same. “Edward thinks we’ll find answers in Brazil. There are tribes there that might know something.”
MILD SPOILERS START HERE!
Uh-oh. A wandering cousin has caught sight of Renesmee collecting snowflakes (FFS) and has gone straight to the Volturi, that ancient tribe of Tuscan vampires who live in a place called Volterra, where in previous episodes we’ve seen them chowing down on innocent tourists. RESULT! The Volturi are guaranteed to liven up any Twilight film, what with their leader Aro (Michael Sheen once again looking like a vampire Mr Bean), Evil Fanning and the Inkblot Kid, and the sepulchral Christopher Heyerdahl, who also plays a vampire in True Blood.
The Volturi think Renesmee is an Immortal Child, and therefore a threat to vampire welfare. (She’s not, though quite honestly I couldn’t care less either way.) And so we get a potted history of Immortal Children in flashback: “A single tantrum could destroy an entire village.” Cue Midwich Cuckoo-blond boy with a bloody mouth, followed by vampire decapitation and what might have been child-burning, except I blinked at that point.
Now it’s the gathering of the vampire clans, which is great fun. Edward and Bella take Renesmee to enlist the support of vampire relatives up north, where there’s snow and chalets. Carlisle and Esme go to Egypt and meet a water-bending vampire. Senna and Zafrina, vampires in Amazonian Pocahontas costumes, arrive from the Amazon. (Also, Zafrina has jungle-vision.) The Irish contingent: “Although we were grateful for their help, their thirst for human blood complicated the situation.” Vladimir and Stefan arrive from Russia. Also, there’s an old mate of Carlisle’s from the Civil War, and an anti-social vampire who hangs out in the attic. Bella’s voice-over: “Soon we would face the darkness of Jane and worse, the paralysing vapour of her brother Alec.”
Bella has an interesting meeting with a lawyer in Seattle – yay, it’s Bunk from The Wire!
So – are the Volturi walking from Tuscany to Washington State? It’s taking them long enough to get here.
Ah, here they are.
Aro, Aro, Aro! Bella and Edward formally introduce Renesmee to Aro. Sheen’s chin (or his make-up, I can’t tell) has a slight crack in it. Playing a vampire is probably the one role that actively cries out for Botox. He gives an insane giggle (which I can’t wait for someone to post on YouTube) and says, “I hear her strange heart!”
BIG SPOILERS START HERE!
Sheen makes a long rambling speech about “uncertainty” which is supposed to rally his troops, though it’s probably the least inspiring speech ever written and wouldn’t rouse a goldfish.
There’s a bit of a rumble and…
Blimey! That was a bit unexpected. I don’t remember REDACTED dying in the books.
Multiple vampire decapitations!!! Popular vampire and werewolf characters dying! It’s all up for grabs!
Big lava-filled crack in the earth! cf CS Lewis’s The Silver Chair!
Oh I see. What a shame, it’s a narrative cheat, the Twilight equivalent of “It was all a dream” or “Imperial battleship! Halt the flow of time!” They had me going there for a while. The battle scene didn’t really take place. Instead, everyone backs down and goes home. Chiz.
So. Bella and Edward. Together. Forever. The word “forever” is emphasised repeatedly, which only made me think about it more. What on earth are they going to do with all that time? Has Meyer even thought about what “forever” really means? Has anyone? The End.
You may also be interested in:
EVERYTHING I’VE EVER WRITTEN ABOUT THE TWILIGHT SAGA (minus the page you’re now on, of course)
VAMPIRES: THERE WILL ALWAYS BE BLOOD
SUCKERS: UPWARDLY-MOBILE VAMPIRES ON THE RAMPAGE
CHRISTOPHER LEE TALKS ABOUT VAMPIRES
- One last bite: ‘Twilight’ update (utsandiego.com)
Not to mention that Melissa Rosenberg has forgotten her own writing. In earlier movies, as in the books, the wolves blocked Alice’s visions, so if there are wolves around, she sees nothing. Therefore, she should not have had any visions to show Aro. Epic fail…
Oh, well spotted! I never quite got to grips with Alice’s visions in the first place – I always thought that since the future was so easily changed, or was a whole array of different possibilities, she might as well just have been dealing in tarot cards, or the I-Ching.
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What I really don’t get is why the series is even called a Saga to begin with. Not only is there a disappointing lack of Icelandic heroes and Norse gods, but even in the loosest sense of the word it’s just not a saga.It doesn’t follow the exploits of families over years and through generations, it literally takes place in a few years with the focus very much only on Edward and Bella. Which is fair enough for those of us who enjoy the series, but I always thought it was pointless to try and make it sound more epic and grander than it was.
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