The “Twilight” series comes to a close with the fifth film based on the four-book supernatural love story from Stephenie Meyer. This one is for the fans, with a loving farewell that includes a romantic recap series of flashbacks and final credits bringing back all the stars of the series. It will be less satisfying for non Twi-hards, who will have a hard time ignoring the ludicrousness of the storyline.
In the last chapter, Bella (Kristen Stewart) at long last (well, not too long, she just finished high school), married her one true love, Edward (Robert Pattinson), a vampire. They had a wonderfully romantic but bed-breaking wedding night, and she got pregnant, a surprise to everyone because it was thought to be biologically impossible. The pregnancy left Bella so frail that childbirth would have killed her if Edward had not kept her alive by turning her into a vampire. “Breaking Dawn, Part 1” ended with her eyes opening, vampire-ified to electrified amber with a kind of permanent mascara. “I didn’t expect you to seem so..you,” Jacob says. “Except for the creepy eyes.”
In the past, we saw the “other” world of vampires and wolf-people like Jacob (Taylor Lautner) through Bella’s brown human eyes. Now we see everything through the hyper-charged senses of the ultimate predator. Ironically, it is only as a vampire that Bella feels most purely herself — strong, confident, capable. This is the fork in the road where the fans will stay with it but everyone else may take a detour. One reason for the sensational popularity of the books is the way they so perfectly capture a young teenager’s fantasy. That works better when the characters are themselves teenagers. Trying to project them into the adult world, even one as skewed as the vampire world, is a tougher stretch.
Bella and Edward have an idyllic existence of eternal adolescence, with a life free from work, struggle, and parents. They do not have to eat or sleep. They do not have to do anything but have wildly energetic sex and conversations about who loves who more, with banter like “We’re the same temperature now.” You may ask, “Wait, isn’t there a baby with some kind of nutty name?” Yes there is, and her name is Renesmee (after the two grandmothers, Renée and Esmé). When Jacob calls her “Nessie,” Bella gets angry because that’s the Loch Ness monster’s nickname, though it seems likely that it is just another of Jacob’s protective instincts, her birth name being something of a burden.
Bella and Edward-style parenting is not very demanding. The baby has a full-time staff of loving vampire relatives and an imprinted wolf-guy. And it turns out that vampire/human children grow in dog years. The movie, unfortunately, moves rather slowly, with a lot of time bringing in 18 new vampire characters from all over the world to help persuade the vampiric governing body, the Volturi, that they have not broken the law and produced an “immortal child” who could put the community at risk. All of this leads up to a grand battle across a snowy field, the motley crew of good guy vampires and the robed Volturi.
The endless procession of new characters gets tedious except for a Revolutionary war veteran played by Lee Pace (“Lincoln,” “Pushing Daisies”), who talks about his time with General Custer and has far more electricity on screen than the vampiress who catches his attention with her super-tasing power to jolt anyone. I also liked Rami Melek (“Night at the Museum,” “Larry Crowne”) as a vampire who can control the elements. But the sheer volume of new characters made having to remember each one’s special talent like trying to keep track of the Smurfs.
We’ve spent a lot of time with these characters and it is good to see a satisfying resolution to their story. But I couldn’t help feeling that Meyer had run out of ideas and just tossed in everything she could think of. My primary reaction at the end was relief that this was the end.
Parents should know that this movie includes vampire violence with battles that include graphic decapitations and other disturbing images, characters injured and killed, sexual references and situations with some nudity, and some language.
Family discussion: What are the biggest changes in Bella’s outlook and abilities from the first installment to the last? How much should she tell Charlie? If you could have one of the special gifts of the characters in the film, which would it be and why?
If you like this, try: the other “Twilight” movies and the books by Stephenie Meyer