By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — This second Dawn can mean only one thing: it’s dusk for Twilight.
The Twilight Saga draws to a close with Breaking Dawn – Part 2, the fifth and final installment in the popular Twilight franchise of supernatural romantic fantasies (some might call them soap operas) based on the young adult books by author Stephenie Meyer.
Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner reprise their wish-fulfillment love triangle one more time as Bella and Edward seek allies to help protect their family from a supernatural menace.
This film picks up, understandably, where Part 1 left off, with Bella a full-fledged vampire. Now she has inordinate strength and can zip around at dizzying speeds, flying if she feels like it, without ever getting tired.
And after the birth of Bella and Edward’s daughter, Renesmee, Bella — ever thirsty for blood of one sort or another — seems to be enjoying life as a vampire.
But Irina (Maggie Grace), a member of a vampire coven seeking revenge for the death of her mate, reports the Cullens to the ancient, aristocratic, sinister Volturi, who have placed themselves in charge of vampiredom.
She falsely accuses the child of being an immortal, a human infant bitten and transformed into a vampire -– which is taboo in the vampire world because of the possibility that she can and will reveal vampires to humans.
So, fighting for their very survival, the Cullens attempt to gather foreign vampire clans and nomads to oppose the Volturi and demonstrate their innocence in an extended showdown that closes shop for the franchise.
Breaking Dawn – Part 2 follows Twilight (2008), New Moon (2009), Eclipse (2010), and Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011) in a genre-hybrid series of romantic vampire dramas that has managed to cast a spell and maintain a respectable level of quality.
The metaphor for adolescent sexual anxiety and the irresistibility of youthful passion runs through these horror/ romance thrillers and registers strongly with the series’ loyal fans (known as “Twi-hards”), helping to overcome the franchise’s most wrongheaded element: shoddy CGI work that, when combined with live-action footage, although it doesn’t quite suck the blood out of the franchise, does show far too much of the patently fake werewolves, thus severely undermining each story’s illusion by turning a melodrama into a cartoon.
In The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2, even though there has been marked improvement in the visual design of the CGI werewolves, they continue to appear cartoonish and thus undermine the credibility of every single scene in which they appear — which is, once again, far too many.
But with Bill Condon (who also directed Breaking Dawn – Part 1 as well as Gods and Monsters, Kinsey, and Dreamgirls) back at the controls, once again working from a script by franchise screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg, the film delivers –- for fans of the teen-friendly series, anyway; newcomers beware –- an extended action finale that will be acceptably satisfying to some viewers and seem a laughable cheat to others.
You be the judge.
As for us, we’ll say “fangs for the memories” to 2½ stars out of 4 for the vampires-and-werewolves wrapup, Breaking Dawn – Part 2. The Twilight saga maintains a respectable level of quality right through to the end, but five installments is more than enough.