Review: Breaking Dawn Part 2 is Twilight at its most tolerable

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 (2012) Screenshot - 1114446

At the opening of Breaking Dawn Part 2, the Twilight saga has already crossed the majority of its more questionable storytelling bumps. The awkward love triangle is over, freeing the characters of the constant hemming and hawing that made the majority of the previous films unbearable. With Bella awoken as a vampire, Kristen Stewart's breathy, neurotic take on the character has transformed into something more confident and watchable. I can almost imagine the collective sigh in the editors room as the credits rolled on the awkward pregnancy scenes of Part 1.

I've never read the books, but I've heard enough about them to know that a film adaptation must have been quite a challenge. This is a story in which a chesty werewolf falls in love with a newborn vampire/human hybrid. That's something you can sell to a "Twi-hard" four books deep into the series, but you can't expect a general audience to immediately go along with that. That's why I have to give props to the writers for not only commenting on how bizarre that is, but also managing to keep the bond between Jacob and a super baby relatively tasteful.

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Not to say the film doesn't have its share of awkwardness. Whether it's Jacob sauntering onto the scene telling Bella to "take a whiff," or Bella's amazingly dramatic delivery of the line, "You nicknamed my baby after the Loch Ness Monster?" Breaking Dawn Part 2 is still full of laugh out loud moments. If it weren't, this probably would be a much more negative review. The Twilight films benefit by being just as entertaining to non-fans with a sense of humor as it is to those fans still holding out for hope with their "Team Jacob" shirts on.

Bella's newfound vampirism, newborn vampire baby, and the consistently unnecessary hounding by the Volturi form the central conflicts here. Because Twilight has never really followed the rules that form the basis of traditional vampire fiction, Bella gets a bonus superpower to go with her super strength, speed, and sun-sparkling powers. Some vampires can shoot deadly smoke out of their hands, control the elements, or see the future. Bella gets the power to give her friends a +2 bonus to defense. It comes in handy in the end, but if this were an RPG she'd be swapped out for the mage in a heartbeat.

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As she hones her vampire-fu, the Cullens have to deal with the issue of her vampire/human daughter Renesmee. The absolutely terrifying CG baby quickly grows into a googly-eyed half-CG child thanks to an accelerated growth rate. Regardless, the Volturi suspect that she's an immortal vampire baby that will ravage humanity with a voracious hunger and zero morals, which is actually a pretty cool concept. Good job on that one, Twilight.

Vampire pope-guy Aro heads to bumf**k Washington to deal with the Cullen clan, setting the stage for an epic vampire-on-vampire-plus-werewolves showdown. Much like the first Twilight, which lost me in its narrow-minded take on romance but then came out of nowhere with a violent final battle, Breaking Dawn attempts to break some kind of record for most beheadings in a theater full of pre-teen girls. It's as if the creators stepped in and with a wink in my direction said, "this part is for you guy, thanks for sticking it out."

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Team Charlie, am I right guys?

All told, despite the setup for an epic finale, Breaking Dawn Part 2 doesn't really amount to a whole lot. I was informed that some minor changes got under the skin of those who swear by the books, but since they made a two-hour movie out of the last third of the last book in a four part series, I kind of wish they changed more. A little more ambition could have gone a long way, though, who am I kidding? They made a Twilight film watchable, so that in itself is an impressive feat.

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Joe Donato Video games became an amazing, artful, interactive story-driven medium for me right around when I played Panzer Dragoon Saga on Sega Saturn. Ever since then, I've wanted to be a part of this industry. Somewhere along the line I, possibly foolishly, decided I'd rather write about them than actually make them. So here I am.
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