Bigger is definitely not better in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, an overblown series finale that jettisons Twilight’s signature love triangle between a vampire, human and werewolf in favor or a cluttered, badly CGI-d vampire showdown the likes of which we’ve seen many, many times before. The vampires look fake, the werewolves faker and the human actors, sadly, fare slightly worse. It’s disturbing that Bill Condon, an estimable director who once delivered the sublime Gods and Monsters and the quite good Dreamgirls, has given us such a synthetic pastiche lacking in any real visceral or emotional heft.
This time out newly married Bella and Edward have given birth to half human, half vampire child Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy), on whom Jacob has “imprinted” which means she’s his for life—the film indulges in bizarrely off-putting scenes of the strapping lupine lothario joined at the hip with the toddler—while Bella moves in with the Cullen clan, boring as always, and learns to feed on wild animals.
It’s not long before the dreaded Italian council of the Volturi get wind of Resesmee and apparently her dual lineage presents some sort of threat to their extinction, allowing the fine actor Michael Sheen to go over the top each time he appears onscreen. The Volturi quickly amass a large army of fanged warriors to destroy the Cullens, who themselves call in favors from vampire allies around the globe—which in turn produces some unintentionally funny characters from a pair of heavily accented Italians to a dead ringer for Tyra Banks who can blind people at will, to a pair of platinum-maned sisters whose talents I didn’t quite get.
And I’m sure that’s my fault, because I wanted to dial-off about a third of the way into this empty picture, which contains three of the most vacant lead characters ever seen in an American movie—played by three actors who can’t punch through the series’ screenplay inadequacies. Only in the original picture and David Slade’s exciting Eclipse did the trio resonate beyond a flatline, and here they are barely two-dimensional.
In both this picture and her last, Snow White and the Huntsman, Stewart has displayed a surprising inability to disappear inside her characters, often vocally awkward or sounding unrehearsed. There’s no style or eloquence to her performing, though one can hardly blame her given the bon-mots the screenplay requires of her: “You nicknamed my daughter after the Loch Ness Monster?” That Stewart delivers the line without a trace of humor is indicative of the self-seriousness on display that renders the picture, at times, low camp.
There’s a sequence near the end that serves as a montage of moments from each of the films. Included are scenes from Catherine Hardwicke’s original Twilight—a movie we are now miles away from in the franchise—which reminded me of what a sensitive picture the original director had delivered, hewing close to the fragile heart and mind of a young and lonely girl named Bella Swan, long since gone in this interminable special effects saga.