Making the Grades
Any movie that runs nearly two hours and has a title so long it requires punctuation ought to be good—especially since this final installment of the Twilight franchise wraps up the highly successful vampire tale in which Bella (Kristen Stewart) goes from an introverted, brooding teen to a sexually aggressive wife and pinched-faced new mother.
The arrival of her and Edward’s (Rob Pattinson) half-human, half-vampire offspring brings out a fiercely protective side in Bella. It’s either that or the oil change she got when Edward finally bit her, turning her blood into whatever substance it is that courses through the veins of the eternally undead. Regardless of the cause, Bella isn’t about to let the Volturi get their hands on her daughter Renesmee (played by Mackenzie Foy and at least nine other actresses who have their own faces replaced with a digitally altered version of Foy’s).
With a reported $75 million budget, one would think the special effects (involving Renesmee’s face and later a mass of decapitations) would be less hokey. But that didn’t seem to matter. Already having grossed $2.5 billion in box office earnings, the Twilight franchise still brings in one of the most vocally approving audiences of any movie series—especially when Taylor Lautner removes his clothes.
The Cullen family’s crisis begins when Irina (Maggie Grace) mistakes Renesmee for an immortal child—one that has been turned into a vampire before reaching maturity. Immortal children threaten the vampires’ safety since they tend to go on unrestrained gorging sprees, decimating entire villages and drawing attention to the existence of the undead. Carlisle (Peter Facinelli) knows his family is no match for Aro (Michael Sheen) and his minions (Jamie Campbell Bower, Christopher Heyerdahl), but he hopes to assemble a league of other vampires that will testify of Renesmee’s human qualities.
As each of the new faces is introduced, these neck biters showcase their various talents (an obvious attempt to draw out the movie’s length) as the plot moves to the one and only notable event of the entire movie—the inevitable battle on a snow-covered field. As much as Carlisle hopes to negotiate a peaceful end to this misunderstanding, there are too many clues and too little other action to settle for anything less than full out mayhem.
Just as the last movie’s marriage vows finally freed Edward and Bella to fully enjoy their conjugal rights (something they do again in a scene of impassioned kissing and exposed skin), the defense of Renesmee gives the Cullen clan justification to stand up to the Volturi council in a bloodless battle that involves the forcible removal of limbs, decapitations and torched torsos.
Looking for a happy, fairytale ending on this gruesome battlefield appears unlikely but Director Bill Condon pulls out a magic wand just in time. A musical montage of clips from previous films revisits the early days of Bella and Edward’s romance. Unfortunately it also reinforces how immature these characters still are. Despite Bella’s yearning to be part of the Cullen family, almost every self-centered decision she makes puts them in harm’s way with the ruling Volturi. Meanwhile she all but gives her own human father (Billy Burke) the cold shoulder in spite of his best efforts to reach out to her. That kind of behavior might be expected from the self-absorbed adolescent she was in Twilight but it is far beneath the adult she pretends to have become.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2.
Do you think the characters have grown and developed during this series? Do you like Bella better now or in the beginning? In what ways does she change? Do Edward and Jacob’s characters develop as well? Will Bella continue to be a danger to her new vampire family?
As the Volturi threatens the safety of his daughter as well as his family, Edward questions the wisdom of falling in love with a human. How does he expose the Cullens to unnecessary risk? Is that risk justified? What long-term implications may be overlooked in the early stages of a relationship?