Nov 16 2012 2:30pm

Wrestling Mountain Lions, Logic, and Plot Twists: Breaking Dawn, Part 2

Spoiler review of Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 2

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 opens with newly-vampiric Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) wrestling a mountain lion in mid-air and taking a bite out of its jugular as her first post-transformation meal. And the rest of the movie either matches or exceeds that level of absurdity. (Warning: There'll be spoilers for the big plot twist later in this post, but I'll give you another warning.)

Because Part 2 takes place mere days after Part 1 (which came out in November 2011), a quick recap is in order. Gawky human Bella gets her wish to marry her beloved vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), but on their honeymoon they somehow accidentally conceive a vampire/human fetus, which proceeds to break Bella apart from the inside. The only way to save her is for Edward to rip the fetus out with his teeth and then turn Bella into a vampire, which was her ultimate wish anyway.

As Part 2 opens, Bella is adjusting to life as a newborn vampire: The sudden super-speed and sensitivity to the tiniest whisper, plus the all-consuming thirst for blood. Ironically, however, the Volturi—the vampire world's ruling guard, stationed in Rome—are more worried about Bella and Edward's daughter Renesmee. After misidentifying her as an “immortal child” (a child turned into a vampire), they travel to Forks, Washington, to destroy her. The Cullens must call upon their vampire cousins from all over the world to testify to Renesmee's hybrid status.

They're also joined by the wolf pack and Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), Bella's one-time romantic interest who has since imprinted on Renesmee. Yes, the movie sticks to the most absurd twist from Stephenie Meyer's novel, and Bella's immediate assumption that Jacob is lusting after her baby is priceless. The scene where she uses her vampire strength to throw him into trees had our midnight screening audience cheering, but they laughed the hardest when Jacob calls Renesmee “Nessie” and Bella snarls, “You nicknamed my daughter after the Loch Ness Monster?” (In any other series, the nicknaming would be the worst offense, but Bella has her standards for namesakes, apparently.)

The movies have always had a sharp self-awareness, but they really ham it up for the grand finale. You can thank screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg for that; she worked on the early, delightfully awkward seasons of Dexter. Though Kristen Stewart is more expressive here than in the previous films, the dialogue is still clunky and the one-liners ridiculous. Meeting the Cullens' “extended family” is a lesson in stereotypes you should never use: The redheaded Irish vampires wearing newsboy caps and the Dracula-wannabe Romanian vamps with their hilariously bad accents are both examples where you wonder, “Did they really just do that?”

Ironically, many of the new faces overshadowed the characters we're growing tired of. I would have watched an entire movie devoted to Lee Pace's boho vamp Garrett: His first appearance has him snacking on a human singing along to some bad music (perhaps One Direction?) and snarking, “I hated the British invasion the first time around. I hate this one, too!”

Despite having created its own vampire canon—and yes, there are sparkles aplenty here—Twilight still seems to treat its undead as parody. Bella's feral scream when eating her lion lunch, like Volturi member Aro's cackling laugh later, sound like something off a soundboard rather than sounds intended to provoke chills. The vampire sex—yes, Bella and Edward get a second go at it—literally had a moment that I termed “sparkly vampire orgasms.”

But if you want to talk about the most jaw-dropping display of vampire prowess, we're going to have to enter spoiler territory. If you're the kind of person who likes to be utterly surprised, then stop reading now. But if not, or if you've already seen the movie, join me in saying a resounding, “WTF?”

In the novel, the Volturi travel all the way to Forks to destroy Renesmee, only to find out she's a hybrid and then turn around and leave. But because that would make a horribly boring final movie, we're treated to an epic fight scene that has vampires fighting in mid-air and ripping each other's heads off. 

Really, I couldn't count how many heads rolled in the snow in that sequence that had our audience screaming as beloved characters were mercilessly decapitated. Because apparently that's the only way to make sure a vamp stays dead. Obviously Stephanie Meyer has never heard of staking, or decided to leave that to Joss Whedon. There are also some truly epic vampire/werewolf showdowns where both sides bring the pain.

The Breaking Dawn fight scene was a stunning piece of catharsis that spoke to our darker desire to see all of these characters bite the dust once and for all. There's that same expectation with TV series finales, so it was smart of the producers to tap into that same kind of ending. Of course, if we're talking tropes, it's quickly revealed to all be a dream—or rather, Aro's vision of what could happen if the Volturi try to take on the baddest vamps this side of Washington. Then the rest of the movie is so sappy you'll almost forget your earlier delight.

Breaking Dawn, Part 2 is awful. Cinematically, there's no redeeming factor; the acting is as wooden as ever, though the actors smirking through their lines is fun; and the plot is so shoddy that you wonder for the millionth time how this became a publishing phenomenon. But it's entertaining as hell, and perfectly suited for both Twihards and detractors: Both sides get the closure they want, with a little more sex and blood than past installments. Thank God it's over.

Natalie Zutter is a playwright, foodie, and the co-creator of Leftovers, a webcomic about food trucks in the zombie apocalypse. She’s currently the Associate Editor at Crushable, where she discusses movies, celebrity culture, and internet memes. Weekly you can find her commenting on pop culture on KoPoint's podcast AFK On Air, and on Twitter.

1. StrongDreams
Wait, the big twist ending is that it was all a dream? And the movie really does end just as boringly as the book?
2. Dreavyn
One mistake... It wasn't Aro's vision, it is Alice's vision that he is seeing through her... and it was impossible... because Alice cannot see the wolves in her visions... so the whole thing should not have been seen... plus thats the whole reason that Jacob is supposed to take Renesmee, because Alice wouldn't be able to see where he took her.
Pretty stupid mistake... since the fact that Alice cannot see Jacob is the whole reason that Edward thinks Bella is dead in New Moon and goes off to kill himself.
It did make for a way better ending though... If I could only forget that its impossible....
Natalie Zutter
3. nataliezutter
@1 - Not only does it end boringly, it ends with this weird montage set to an Avril Lavigne song where they go through every single actor from every movie and the audience applauds obligingly.

@2 - Yes, you're right! I should have clarified. It is indeed Alice showing Aro the future using her power and his power of tapping into other people's powers. (Also, anyone else think it's kinda lame how every vampire has a superpower? We don't need to make them into special snowflakes.)
Mordicai Knode
4. mordicai
I would have watched an entire movie devoted to Lee Pace's boho vamp Garrett
Mordicai Knode
5. mordicai
Spoilery comment:

I totally disagree about the ending! I don't think it was tired or cliche...& the people in the audience with me definitely didn't! From the very start of the fight-- the "ninjas jump, clash, land, & pause to see who falls"-- it was like the safeties were off. Even better, the characters that die are all characters that could plausibly die while allowing the narrative to maintain its integrity, adding to the verisimilitude. The brawl was fun, stressful, & high stakes...& the twist at the end was fantastic, too. People were braced for a "twist," & the deaths made it seem like THAT was the twist, allowing people who were braced for a Sixth Sense style revelation to relax, & get taken in when the gotcha came.

I liked this movie! I know it is "cool" to hate on sparkle vamps, but I liked Anne Rice, too.
Alan Courchene
6. Majicou
I would absolutely hate to give any impression of defending Meyer, but in many versions of vampire lore, beheading is de rigueur--including Stoker's.
Memory Arnould
7. xicanti
Spoilery comment:

I saw this on Monday night, in company with a friend who enjoyed the Twilight books rather more than I did but still thought Breaking Dawn was a vast sea of WTFery. As soon as Aro brandished Carlisle's severed head, the two of us began grinning and squeeing with delight. We thought it was such an improvement on the book's whole "oh, look, we don't need to fight after all" conclusion, since it put the characters in real danger on every level. There was the physical stuff, of course--yay, beheadings!--plus the psychological fallout everyone was set to experience once they had time to process their loved ones' deaths. When it looked like Edward himself might be destined for a firey end, we decided we were watching the BEST MOVIE EVAR.

Of course, we spent the last ten (or fifteen, or whatever; I zoned out) minutes moaning about how disappointed we were.

I've decided to pretend those ten (or fifteen, or whatever) minutes never happened, and the movie did, in fact, end with that huge battle. The aftermath was the lie. As Dreavyn pointed out, Alice's inability to see the werewolves makes it impossible for her to have seen the full battle anyways. Hell, when I watch it on DVD (or, more likely, when it hits the movie channels and I record it at no cost beyond my subscription fee), I'll just stop it right before the dream ends. Ideal ending preserved!
8. Baladune
What kills me about all you Twilight haters, is that you all go and watch the movies and read the books. I mean if you are really that offended by sparklie vamps then why not stop after the first book and skip the movies, or barring that not watch the movies past the first one?
9. Banba
Did anyone else notice that once again Stephanie let her lead character comepletely lose all power? Alice saves the day with her impossible vision, leaving us to revamp Jacob's line: what was it all for, anyway?! Honestly, a one-liner about Bella being able to rise to any challenge was a complete cop-out! We never see any of Bella's of will in these movies, which was her only redeeming feature to begin with.
Matthew Abel
10. MatthewAbel
This movie would have been ten times better if they'd cut to the credits right after the big reveal.
11. Candy
I just saw this and I loved the fight scene. I was squirming in my chair when all the heads were rolling. FYI, I loved the books, too, but was glad that the movie had more action. That is, until the, "it was all a dream...all is well in fantasy land" crap! I actually said aloud, WTF when the truth was revealed. WTF, indeed.

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