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The Independent Critic

Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Ashley Green, Elizabeth Reaser, Dakota Fanning, Pater Facinelli, Kellan Lutz, Jackson Rathbone, Michael Sheen, Noel Fisher, Nikki Reed
Bill Condon
Stephenie Meyer (Novel), Melissa Rosenberg
Rated PG-13
116 Mins.
Summit Entertainment

 "Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2" Closes Out the Series in Fine Fashion 
A funny thing happened on my way to an expected scathing review of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2, the highly anticipated (at least for Stephenie Meyer fans) final film in The Twilight Saga.

What will hopeless, and I do mean hopeless, romantics do for cinematic entertainment now?

Ah well, there's always Blu-ray.

But anyway, back to Breaking Dawn, Part 2. The weird thing is that I, well, actually kind of liked it.

No, seriously.

Before you think I've gone completely mad, hear me out. The Twilight Saga films have never been about cinematic brilliance. I mean, seriously, do you think Kristen Stewart or Robert Pattinson or, god forbid, Taylor Lautner has ever actually sat there in a screening of the film muttering to themselves "How have I never been nominated for an Oscar?"

Of course not.

They know exactly what purpose the Twilight films serve and, over the course of these five films, they've become increasingly better at delivering exactly what their target audience wants.

There's nothing magnificent about The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2, but for those who've been completely and utterly enchanted by this series there may not be a better possible way for it all to wind down. Yes, Breaking Dawn Part 2 is cliche'd, melodramatic, faux romantic, occasionally silly and reverent to the point of lunacy, but for Twilight fans this may very well be the film that weaves together all the pieces and blends them together into a surprisingly coherent, entertaining, well paced and, I dare say, emotionally resonant film.

Breaking Dawn, Part 2 precisely where Breaking Dawn, Part 1 ended - Bella (Kristen Stewart) awakens after having given birth to the half-vampire, half-human Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy). Bella herself has been transformed into a vampire but, more importantly, she's been transformed into a far more interesting and vibrant character.

For anyone familiar with the Twilight novels, there's an acute awareness that this final chapter in the saga holds a couple of interesting challenges for director Bill Condon, who directed both Breaking Dawn films, and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg. To his credit, Condon handles the most potentially troubling one with tremendous ease and satisfying results as Bella awakens to the almost disturbing sound of Jacob (Taylor Lautner) referring her beloved daughter as "Nessie" with that creepy uncle kind of tone that sort of makes you go "Whoa." Rather than creepy, Condon and his cast manage to turn it into an eerily effective scene.

It takes a good 30-45 minutes for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 to really pick up the pace with a good majority of the opening scenes devoted to Bella's exploration of her newfound gifts and an almost painfully slow exploration of Bella and Edward's (Robert Pattinson) life as a married couple with her status as a newborn vampire. These scenes will no doubt please Twilight devotees, though most others will likely giggle a time or two.

Renesmee will, of course, eventually arouse the attention of the dreaded Volturi, the Italy-based council that governs the global vampire community with a less than merciful sense of justice. Led by Aro (Michael Sheen), they will eventually grow to suspect that this young child could prove to endanger their community and must be dealt with for the good of all. This will lead, as all you Twilight devs know, to the ultimate showdown between the Volturi and the Cullen clan and all those friends and family who choose to stand beside them to protect this child who, one-by-one, proves herself to everyone she meets.

If this all sounds a tad ridiculous and overly histrionic, well, it definitely is a tad ridiculous and overly histrionic. It's also, I'm willing to guess, precisely the film that almost every Twilight fan is hoping for to end the saga. The best news is that a good majority of the issues that made The Twilight Saga almost insufferable, especially in the last film, have largely been addressed and Breaking Dawn, Part 2 is filled with action sequences that are mostly effective and syrupy romance that may not be brilliant but it sure fits the story and these characters.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 is lush and romantic in the way that it's supposed to be while also proving once and for all that eternal love is worth fighting for with all your might. The film is adorably goofy, silly and at the same time reverent to its cinematic predecessors. Even the film's special effects, which were at times laughably bad in the last film, are devoid of the awkward human-to-wolf transitions and the other silliness that was supposed to be mythical but was mostly just a mess. In this film, the transitions are mostly seamless and even Jacob's mandatory abs shots make sense within the context of the story.

Kristen Stewart clearly embraces the ability to set aside mopey goth Bella in favor of the more alive but undead Bella, while Robert Pattinson continues to be the mysterious yet magnetic Edward we've known from film one.

Lautner? He still can't act and this time he's outshined by a practically non-verbal Mackenzie Foy as Renesmee. Among the supporting players, Billy Burke again illuminates the screen every time he's on it while Michael Sheen is a complete and utterly evil joy. The rest of the ensemble cast, and there's a lot of them here, aren't given much to do but clearly have a lot of fun doing it.

If the Twilight films have never been your thing, I can't fathom a reason you'd fall in love with the series with this film. But, then again, why would you still be seeing the films if you didn't secretly harbor a crush on Team Edward or Team Jacob? The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 is truly a film that was made lovingly for the saga's legion of fans who have turned these films into wildly popular and profitable films. If you count yourself among the Twilight legion of fans, then I'm pleased to report that you're going to find yourself very, very happy here.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic