Friday, November 16, 2012
Movie Review: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2
NOTE: Due to the release of this movie things are getting really crazy at work (the work that pays, that is). So I'm not sure when I'll have the video review of it done. Just in case it doesn't come soon, here's the written version.
This is going to sound really weird, but Breaking Dawn Part 2, if nothing else, is proof that Kristen Stewart, in fact...can act. I know that sounds like I’m being sarcastic, but I’m actually dead serious. See the thing about Kristen Stewart is that she’s a character actor, she does one thing really well and that’s generally what the hire her to play: the awkward, not-quite-comfortable-in-her-own-skin introvert. The tragic irony of Twilight is that it cast as exactly that, but the lack of any substance to her character amplified those qualities to the point where she just became insufferable. She was perfectly cast in the absolute worst role possible.
But in this film Bella has finally gotten her wish and become a vampire. And there is a measurable difference between how Stewart plays new vampire Bella as opposed to old human Bella. She carries herself with far more confidence and energy, occasionally slipping back into awkward old Bella, but only when it makes sense, such as when she encounters people or memories from her old life she’s trying to forget. There’s actually one scene when she’s getting ready to see her Dad and has to pretend to be human. So we have Kristen Stewart playing new, graceful, confident Bella trying to pretend to be old, awkward, introverted Bella...and she completely pulls it off. It’s surprisingly one of the better performances Stewart’s ever delivered, which is not something I ever thought I’d say about this series.
As for the film itself...well, what do you want me to say? Everything that’s always sucked about these movies sucks here. The story is inane, the drama is contrived, the characters are nonentities at best and awful people at worst, and most of the movie is a slow drag...up until the third act. Be warned, we’re going to border on spoiler territory here, but there’s no way I can properly review this film otherwise. As i said last time, Bill Condon, who’s helmed these last two entries in the Twilight Saga, has probably the best approach to this series of any of his predecessors. He looks at these movies, looked at the books, shook his head & said “FUCK IT”. Knowing that these were that last movies and he couldn’t lose (or win for that matter) no matter what he made, he abandoned any attempt to take the property seriously and just had fun with it. He took Twilight into the realm of high camp and ridiculous melodrama, giving it a sense of fun & self-awareness that not only made it engaging at last, but came shockingly close to make them actually...good. Part 1 was made watchable by the surreal dream sequences and body horror craziness towards the end. And Part 2? WOW. You won’t believe me till you see it, but the big climactic battle sequence at the end...is one of the best fight scenes you will see all year. No exaggeration. This thing can stand alongside anything you saw in Avengers, Dark Knight Rises or Skyfall. I don’t know what kind’ve bizarre magic this series has that makes the director of 30 Days of Night deliver a vampire fight that’s all kind of tame & lame, but gets one of the most vicious vampire fights ever out of the director of Dreamgirls, but that’s what we have here. The scene goes one for at least 15 minutes and it pulls no punches. Vampires are leaping around all over the place with all sorts of crazy superpowers, heads and limbs are getting ripped off left and right, chasms open up in the ground and swallow people whole, people are burned alive, eaten alive. It’s the most these movies have ever deviated from the books and it’s so satisfying for all those who hate this series for not being about “real vampires”.
And then it ends in one of the most cheap, frustrating, hair-pulling cop outs in film history. It’s so underhanded and yet brilliant all at the same time. It’s a clever twist that I never saw coming, and it allows Condon room to play around and give the audience more playoff that the book offered while technically still ending the same way. Sure, it’s still such a complete tease that will make you madder than this series have ever made you before, but it is so worth it to see Bill Condon give a giant middle finger to Stephanie Meyer and her zombie horde. You sir, and are the wind beneath my wings.
Still there is a lot of campy fun to be had here. Michael Sheen returns as the main villain and delivers easily the best worst performance of his career, playing the role as the most blatant foppish gay british stereotype possible. There’s at least one moment with him that I guarantee will go down in internet infamy. And despite my earlier praise for Stewart’s acting, it does get buried under the mountain of bombastically silly stuff they have her doing when she first gets her powers. Such a waste, & yet so priceless.
My opinion of Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 in one sentence? It’s a horrible movie that you absolutely MUST GO SEE. If nothing else, this bizarre pop culture phenomenon that has plagued us for the last 4 years left us with a bang, and it is a spectacle to behold.
P.S. Since this is the last time this'll be relevant, THIS in my "team". (C'mon, watch the way she acted around Bella. She TOTALLY wanted her.)