Sunday, November 18, 2012

Movie Review: Breaking Dawn Part 2

I got caught up in the craze and hype of Twilight some five years ago.  All my friends were raving about the books, raving about Edward, raving about Bella.  I’ll admit it, curiously got the better of me.  I picked up the first book, blew through it, and devoured the subsequent books.  Lucky for me, by the time I got to the series, the final book was about to come out.  Once the series was over, I can’t say I was gobsmacked by the ending, or the writing or characterisations.  But what Stephanie Meyer had in spades was the ability to make Bella relatable to practically every woman out there.  On the surface, Edward and Jacob are both great guys, in theory, but when you look closer, Edward has stalker, controlling tendencies and Jacob isn’t quite house-broken.  I’ve been forced to move Team Jacob after reading a very thoughtful essay from Twilight and Philosophy.  Read on at your own risk, possible SPOILERS ahoy.

If you’re not familiar with the story (for some strange reason), the cliff-notes version is, girl feels awkward in life, drawn to a guy who’s mysterious and gorgeous, wackiness ensues.  In the first book, Bella, our title character discovers the truth about Edward and his family, falling in love with a vampire.  On the shoulders of such pop culture phenomena as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, author Stephanie Meyer adds to the lore, allowing the vampires to be seen in daylight among other curious changes.  The first story is more of an introduction to the relationship between Bella and Edward and the impact it will have on the rest of the characters.  Edward knows he should avoid Bella, but can’t because she is ‘perfect’ for him, though she never truly understands this.  The first book ends happily ever after in the sense that they are going to work on being together.  In the second book, New Moon, Bella, frequently accident-prone, has a mishap at the Cullen house and Edward leaves town, sending Bella into a depressive state. She is only woken from this by her childhood friend Jacob.  The two hit it off, but Bella never cares for Jacob the way he cares for her.  In an effort to spice things up in her life, she goes cliff-diving, causing a domino effect that almost sees Edward commit suicide.  Bella races to Italy with Alice to save him.  At the end of the second book, Edward proposes to Bella, despite her being underage.  In the third book, the antagonist from the first book returns, wreaking havoc and bringing to light, once again, that Bella is weak in her state as a human.  The majority of the third book revolves around the romantic triangle between Jacob, Bella and Edward.  Stalwart fans know Bella would never chose anyone over Edward, but Jacob continues to pine for her.  The third book ends with Jacob running off and Edward and Bella preparing their wedding, after their high school graduation.  I could make some comments on this, but I’ll just press right through.

The final book was anticlimactic to say the least, but the story is based solely on being in love, not to be confused with Harry Potter, where Harry is faced with issues of right and wrong and making difficult decisions. In the films, the directors have done fantastic jobs turning the weak source material into something watchable.  Breaking Dawn, the final book, had the movie broken into two parts.  I’ve posted a review for the first movie, you can read it if you like.  The second movie picks up right where the first leaves off.  Bella has transformed to a vampire and her transformation is astounding.  The change in Kristen Stewart, while subtle, is exactly as I had imagined it while I’d read it.  Bella’s new worldview is amazing to see.  The focus of the books has always been from Bella’s perspective, and having her transform and allow the audience to experience the new wonders of being immortal gave a sense of closure I didn’t expect I needed.  The cast of characters expands drastically in the final movie, bringing the global concept of vampires to an entirely new level.  Carlisle, the leader of the Cullen clan, goes to great lengths find as many allies as he can once they know the Volturi (read governing body for vampires) believe Bella has created an immortal child, a kid vampire.  The crisis becomes all too real once Alice vanishes with Jasper, leaving the rest of the Cullen’s to wonder what she is playing at.  As a vampire, Bella too possesses a super power, one that explains Edward’s inability to read her, though does not explain her visions in New Moon.  Bella is able to extend this skill with some help.  The final battle in the movie culminates in a slight ‘gotcha’ for both author and director.  I will refrain from giving it away, the ending providing a type of ‘almost’ situation that probably should have happened, Meyer too fearful to kill off any of her beloved characters.

The movie was the best twilight movie without a doubt.  But as I’ve heard all week, that isn’t saying much. The Twilight series is not a life-changing series, the struggles Bella faces are based mostly on her romantic interests and little else.  This vapid, somewhat shallow goal makes the entire series pale in comparison to other more heart-wrenching series.  To make the Twilight series have a greater meaning was a tall task, but was done in a somewhat agreeable fashion.  The movies increased the tension in predictable ways, not taking anything away from the books, adding value with a surprisingly good cast.  The cast is the one thing that surprised me the most.  There will always be detractors for Kristen Stewart, and as someone who’s normally not a fan of hers, I was thoroughly impressed by her transformation from the first movie to this final movie.  She never wavered, ignoring the critics and delivering, what I would argue, is an absolutely stunning performance as the title character in a world-wide beloved series.  Stewart raised her quality as vampire Bella and did so in a way that made me respect everything she’s been through with this franchise.  In comparison, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner were mediocre, the rest of the cast paling in comparison to Stewart’s provoking performance.  I really can’t say enough about how I was just shocked by her delivery of the role.  She could have hammed it up, dialled it in as Tobey Maguire and co famously did in the final Spiderman movies.   The final touch that really convinced me of this was the credits, not even Potter took the time to do this, though Rings did.  The credits rolled with images of every actor in almost any role for the entire series, including those that weren’t seen in the final instalment.  There is a lot you can say that is wrong with the Twilight series, but they are a class act.

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