The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (Summit Entertainment, PG-13)

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film breakingdawn_75Avoid Breaking Dawn if you can; your IQ and self-esteem will thank you for it.

 

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By far one of the most successful franchises in the history of Hollywood (financially, anyway), the Twilight Saga finally comes to an end after five films, hundreds of millions of dollars in box office revenue, and possibly the most extravagant merchandise campaign since Tim Burton's Batman. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 brings to a close the epic romance between unlikely partners Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). Their journey of love has not been easy over the years; he's over 100 years old, she's a teenager; he's a bloodsucking vampire, she's moody and rebellious.

Somehow, though, these two have managed to overcome their obstacles and are finally able to live their lives in peace. Well, for a day or two, anyway. As you no doubt remember, at the end of Breaking Dawn – Part 1, Bella gave birth to Renesmee, a half-human, half-vampire baby, while she herself had to be turned into a vampire in order to survive (relatively speaking). Now, Bella is enjoying her newfound Spidey senses and freakish strength as she adapts to her immortality. Halfway around the world, though, the Volturi—the powerful clan of vampire royalty led by Aro (Michael Sheen)—are told that Edward and Bella have created an "immortal child," a baby who has been turned into a vampire. This is a big faux pas in the vampire world, so Aro decides punishment must be doled out.

Meanwhile, Jacob (Taylor Lautner) has become the protector of Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy) because one day he's going to marry that baby. As we learned at the end of Part 1, Jacob, a werewolf, "imprinted" on Renesmee (a baby!) and now they are soul mates. As Bella and Edward prepare for battle against Aro and the Volturi, Carlisle (Peter Facinelli) begins gathering vampire friends from around the world to bear witness to the fact that Renesmee is not an immortal child; she is something different. Their only hope of avoiding death is that Aro will listen to the confirmation from the dozen or so testifiers they have amassed.

Though Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is thankfully a significant improvement over Part 1 (which felt as though it were stitched together piecemeal by five different directors), it is still a bloated, nauseatingly uninspired movie that lacks even a degree of artistic accomplishment. It's incredible to think that an honestly decent and entertaining film like Twilight, which worked as both a coming-of-age story and a fantasy romance, could spawn four sequels that, collectively, have barely a smattering of creativity or original thought.

While director Bill Condon (who also helmed Part 1) deserves most of the blame (by a wide margin) for the drivel that is Breaking Dawn – Part 2, screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg should also be ashamed of herself, having written all five movies that somehow managed to become worse as the series progressed. While she had Catherine Hardwicke's capable directing skills to make up for her poor script for Twilight, each subsequent film has been saddled with directors who don't know what they're doing or are perplexed by the material, thereby putting her pathetic dialogue and ridiculous plot devices center stage.

The most infuriating aspect of the movie (and of the last several installments) is the atrocious visual effects that must surely be the worst product of whoever oversaw their creation. From the giant wolves to the vampires' Road Runner speed to the laughable powers of each character, the CGI is about as convincing as the stop-motion animation in Army of Darkness. Had the producers' marketing budget not been equal to the annual budget of most major cities, they could have spent a little more on visual effects that weren't distractingly amateurish. The CGI used for Renesmee as a baby is especially disturbing, as it makes her face shift with the consistency of Rorschach's mask.

Twilight fans will see Breaking Dawn – Part 2 irrespective of warnings from friends, family, or movie critics. Those hopeless souls are on their own. For the rest of the movie-going public, avoid Breaking Dawn if you can; your IQ and self-esteem will thank you for it. | Matthew Newlin

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