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Awesome: 3.85%
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Twilight Saga, The: Breaking Dawn - Part II
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by Peter Sobczynski

"First Person To Say "Reboot" Gets A Punch In The Breadbasket"
1 stars

Remember how excruciating the last few weeks of high school were when you were a senior and almost, but not quite, out of there for good? Mentally, you and your friends had pretty much already checked out but you still had to show up every day and live up to your obligations. By that point, however, they could make you show up but they couldn't make you care and after as the days to graduation ticked away, even the most normally straight-laced students would get a little slap-happy once they realized that it made absolutely no difference at that point whether they took things seriously or not. Watching "Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part II," the awkwardly-titled conclusion to the extraordinarily popular and excruciatingly banal series featuring the romantic travails of vampires, werewolves and the like, I felt a similar vibe emanating from the screen. While the franchise has never been known for being committed to anything other than minting the money forked over by its bizarrely loyal fan base, everyone involved this time around seems to have just been marking time until the end of shooting without even rising to the bare minimum of effort that they demonstrated in the previous installments. The end result is arguably the silliest and sloppiest entry in the series and while that we-don't-care attitude does provide the film with a few endearingly goofy moments here and there--so intentional, some less so--the whole thing is pretty much a drag that makes for an unfortunately fitting finale to a series that would require the application of approximately 10,000 wats to bump it up to the level of lethargic.

Picking up right where "Part I" left off (which means that newcomers will be more or less in the dark but then again, if you have never before seen a "Twilight" film, why on Earth would you bother starting now?), "Part II" opens with Bella (Kristen Stewart) recovering from one of the most eventful childbirth sequences in screen history--as you will recall not only was her eternally wan vampire husband Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) forced to transform her into a vampire to prevent her from dying during labor, the numerous exertions almost forced her face to contort against its will into a second expression. Happily, she gets better and in the initial scenes, she and Edward hurtle their way through the woods to test her new-found powers and her ability to control her new thirst for blood around humans--an unwitting mountain climber almost becomes her first carbon-based juice box but a mountain lion ambles along that she quickly and happily wrestles into grisly submission. The only fly in the ointment comes when Bella discovers that Jacob (Taylor Lautner), her lycanthropic and often-shirtless former suitor, has "imprinted" himself on her newborn daughter Renesmee. Truth be told, I am not entirely sure what occurs during the process of "imprinting" but it strikes me as containing all the connotations of what most people would define as "a bad touch" and even the usually passive Bella is outraged by this, though she seems to have either gotten over it or forgotten about it entirely by the next scene because she never again makes any particular mention of it. Yeah, it is that kind of movie and don't even get me started on the name "Renesmee," though I have to admit that it does inspire one of the funnier non-sequiturs in the history of the franchise.

Everything is swell until Renesmee begins aging at a rapid pace and goes from being an infant to resembling a seven-year-old girl (now played by Mackenzie Foy)--Bella's ever-clueless Dad (Billy Burke) calmly notes that she has grown several inches and makes no other mention of the fact that his granddaughter is turning into Robin Williams in "Jack"--and is spotted by distant Cullen relative Irina (Maggie Grace--when the hell did she become part of the proceedings). This is bad because the Volturi, who are in charge of all vampire-related rules and regulations, not to mention the implementation of LugosiCare, have forbidden the creation of vampire children because they cannot control their violent instincts, refuses to clean up after their kills and always want to watch "Bob the Bloodsucker" DVDs when the big game is on. Not realizing that Renesmee is half-human and therefore in the clear, Irina goes off to Italy to squeal to the Volturi leaders (played by Michael Sheen and Dakota Fanning) about the unforgivable crime she believes the Cullens has committed. (Lesson to be learned--get those birth announcements out as soon as possible.) Realizing that the Volturi will be coming to the Pacific Northwest to destroy them for their alleged transgressions, the Cullen clan sets off on a worldwide quest to locate fellow vampires to stand by them and avow that Renesmee is truly half-human/half-vampire. Oddly, this doesn't quite do the trick and it all leads to a climactic battle that seems to have been designed to answer the age-old question "How many decapitations can one movie contain and still cling to its PG-13 rating?" (Answer--lots, as long as they are not accompanied by even a single drop of blood.)

Some of you may be thinking that I am not exactly carrying out my duties of analyzing "Breaking Dawn" with the same degree of seriousness I brought to my reviews of "Lincoln" or the "Resident Evil" series entire. Frankly, you would be correct but in my defense, how else am I to deal with writing yet another review of what may well be the least creatively ambitious major film franchise that I have ever encountered in all my years of moviegoing (and bear in mind, I have seen ever single "Friday the 13th" movie)? Should I mention once again how the story moves at a snail's pace and consists almost entirely of either a.) scenes in which characters sit around and explain the plot to each other (with greater success than they do to those of us in the audience), b.) scenes in which new characters are introduced and their own respective powers are demonstrated, even though you would think that all of the central players would have finally been introduced before the last half of the final chapter of the saga or c.) action scenes so poorly staged that they almost make the dialogue scenes feel like the opening of "Skyfall" by comparison. Should I again bring up the fact that even though the films are by now a proven cash cow, the producers are so stingy in pumping any of that money back into improving the technical elements that they make the douchebag running Papa John's seem like a benevolent saint by comparison? (The CGI wolves are as clumsily executed as ever and the makeup designed to give the vampires their ghostly pallor make them resemble the characters in the long-forgotten Wayans Brothers classic "White Girls" more than anything else--terrifying, I admit, but not in the manner presumably intended.) Should I again mention that for the most part, the ever-expanding cast of actors--some of them quite good, though you would never know it here--have no chance to display their talents and for the most part, director Bill Condon functions more like a traffic cop than a filmmaker in his efforts to shuffle everyone through their paces without inspiring an on-screen logjam.

For anyone who is not already a card-carrying member of the "Twilight" fan club, "Breaking Dawn II" is pretty much unendurable but in the interest of full disclosure, it does contain a couple of minor compensating factors of note. Although her performance here is still pretty awful, Kristen Stewart at least gets to go through the proceedings this time around with more fire and energy than she has been allowed to demonstrate in the past and she seems positively jazzed at being able to do something other than murmur indistinctly while the hunky feebs fight over her. (That said, Bella is still no Katniss or Hermione and indeed, she must go down as one of the least inspiring heroines to come along since times changed and princesses started rescuing themselves.) There are also a few scattered moments in which the most painfully self-serious of film franchises finally seems to be having a little bit of fun at last with its own absurdities--the requisite scene in which Taylor Lautner doffs his shirt for the first time is especially amusing and the performance by Michael Sheen as the head of the Volturi is so overtly campy that it can't help but come as a blessed relief against the tedium surrounding it. As for the head-ripping finale, it may not go down as one of the great action set-pieces of all time (even if one is inclined to forgive the lack of spurting blood on the basis that a vampire, being dead, would not have any blood pressure to speak of in the first place) but it does sort of work as a bit of demi-Grand Guignol theatrics and while I am not sure whether it is original author Stephenie Meyer or Condon and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg who is responsible for the truly demented manner in which the story attempts to resolve itself apres the carnage but someone deserves some credit for displaying the cajones needed to even consider what is offered up here, let alone have the nerve to actually foist it upon a paying audience.

In the end, it doesn't matter what I or any other critic has to say about "Breaking Dawn Part II"--by the time you are reading these words, you have either already seen the film, acquired your tickets for a future screening or would rather sit through an episode or two of "Whitney" than watch it with your own eyes. However, what has madee the entiree "Twilight" series so frustrating for anyone outside of its immediate fan base that with its combination of werewolves, vampires, raging hormones and swoony romanticism, all the ingredients were there to make a nifty film series as long as they were put into the hands of someone interested in making a decent movie instead of the elaborate visual book reports that have been churned out since 2008. For example, the people behind the screen version of "The Hunger Games" made the extra effort and based on that film alone, I bet that franchise lasts in the collective consciousness long after "Twilight" has been kicked to the back of our cultural closet. That said, the fans at the screening I attended seemed to be perfectly satisfied with the results but what are they to do now that the object of their devotion has come to its final and merciful end? Well, if they are still into vampire-related nonsense, here is hoping that they find their way to the likes of "The Hunger" or "True Blood"--sure, the bloodsuckers there may not be especially sparkly in nature but at least it takes them less than a century (or 10 hours of screen time) to get past first base.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=21333&reviewer=389
originally posted: 11/16/12 15:48:45
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User Comments

12/02/15 1800suckmydick Best of the films. 1 stars
1/08/14 Gary Wilcox Teenage garbage. 1 stars
1/20/13 dmasz91 excellent fight scene, but the ending cuts short 5 stars
1/03/13 action movie fan see near dark instead of this bore 1 stars
12/04/12 Cat Renee Smtih TTG this craptacular franchise is over. The dullest vamps ever to hit town. 1 stars
12/02/12 Edler It was good! Lots of awesome right scenes. Imaginative 4 stars
11/26/12 Flipsider Yeah... no. 1 stars
11/22/12 garett worst movie ever 1 stars
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  16-Nov-2012 (PG-13)
  DVD: 02-Mar-2013



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