I have a confession to make. When Twilight, the first part of the R-Patz and K-Stew-fronted vampire saga, hit movie theatres, I saw it three times. I’ve read all the books, I have a mug with Edward Cullen’s face on it, my friend even bought me a Twilight annual one Christmas– I’m bordering on being a bit mental.
My eternal cynicism was cast aside as I was swept up in the forbidden love of Bella and Edward. If you ignored how ridiculous Bella was, stopped willing Edward to crack a smile and tore your eyes off Taylor Lautner’s amazing face for two minutes, Twilight presented a beautifully-shot movie offering action, adventure and romance – tapping into everything teen girls (and their big sisters who should 100% know better) want in a film. So, naturally, I was keen to see the final instalment – my least favourite of the books – finished up on the big screen.
Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga tell the story of Bella Swan, an ordinary, clumsy girl who’s just moved in with her dad in the Washington town of Forks. At her new school, she instantly spots a brooding stranger who goes by the name of Edward. Cue mega crush. While you or I might decide this was a great moment to ask him out on a date (or get your pal to do it), things aren’t quite this straightforward for Bella. Why? Because Edward’s a vampire – a vegetarian vampire who doesn’t drink human blood. What else would he be? And so books and movies followed, telling the tale of the pair’s dangerous romance, with evil vampires, werewolves, Native American legends and plenty of teen angst thrown in. It’s the stuff teenage dreams are made of.
With so much to cram in, movie execs decided to do a Harry Potter and split the book into two movies. We pick up where Part 1 left off – Bella and Edward had just got married and Bella ends up pregnant with Edward’s half-human, half-vampire baby. If ever there was a time for an ‘uh oh’, it is now. Part 1 ended just as Bella gave birth to baby Renesmee, but not before the mutant baby snapped her spine and left her looking pretty rough. With Bella’s life hanging in the balance, Edward steps in to inject her heart with his venom. Et voila, all Bella’s vampirey dreams come true, and she and Edward can be together forever.
But – of course there’s a but, it’s Twilight – it’s not this straightforward. The Volturi (head vampires who enforce all the vampire laws – keep up, lads) catch wind of the fact that the Cullens have a baby and instantly assume it’s an ‘immortal child’ – a kid who’s been turned into a vampire. A big fat no-no in vampire land. So they decide to step in and destroy the Cullens. And so Part 2’s mission begins – enlist lots of vampirey friends from all over the world (the Irish ones are the best – terrible accents) and prove to the Volturi that Renesmee isn’t illegal, she’s just half-human, half-vampire. Much more normal.
So, incredible in-depth background aside, how was it? I was slightly disappointed. To say it gets off to a slow start is an understatement. There’s a lot of time spent on Bella’s new vampire skills, Jacob lurking about, R-Patz looking unusually smily and rounding up some vampire pals to beat the Volturi. There is a sense that not a lot has changed over the years. The brooding looks aren’t gone, daddy Cullen Carlisle is still stony-faced, Bella’s dad Charlie is still clueless, there’s still seemingly insurmountable obstacles to overcome… It doesn’t really feel like we’ve moved much further forward from the first film and it feels a tiny bit tired.
While it takes a while to get going, Breaking Dawn rises to a crescendo of vampirey fight scenes, high drama and hold-your-breath moments of tension. The finale is phenomenal, with the film’s special effects team excelling themselves in the battle scene. Part 2 keeps up the franchise’s reputation for stunning visuals and bucketloads of OTT romance that’ll test your gag reflex, too, keeping fans happy – very happy, seeing as the movie took $341 million in its opening weekend.
However, after the final twist towards the end, things do fall a bit flat, and I found the ending a bit boring. Could they have kept Breaking Dawn as one film? Probably. But that wouldn’t have made as much money from screaming fans, would it?
Overall? It’s a pretty inoffensive way to spend a couple of hours of your life. The action scenes more than make up for the snoozier moments, but on the whole, this is a pretty average interpretation of the book that changed the lives of millions of teenagers.