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You nicknamed my daughter after the Loch Ness Monster?


The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2
(2012)

The final finale of the Twilight saga, in which pig-boy Jacob tells Bella that, “No, it's not like that at all!” after she accuses him of being a paedo. But then she comes around to his viewpoint, doubtless displaying the kind of denial many parents did who let their kids spend time with Jimmy Saville or Gary Glitter during the ‘70s. It's lucky little Renesmee will be an adult by the age of seven, right? Right... Jacob even jokes that he should start calling Edward, “Dad”. And all the while they smile and smile.

Borrowing the trick of Harry Potter in splitting the last book in the series in two movies to make more cash (or to preserve the artistic integrity of the material, take your pick), both series have in common an action-lite part one and an epic face-off in part two. However, Twilight distinguishes itself with the usual mixture of dreadful acting, dialogue, sub-Dido songs and sluggishly banal but slightly surreal domesticity. Obviously a vampire soap opera shouldn't be dull, but this manages it for the first hour.

After Part 1's freakishly protracted disease movie, I feared the series had returned to the simply forgettable qualities of the second and third films. Sure, there were a few bright spots (Lee Pace enjoying himself as a sub-Spike vamp) and a touch of the altogether wrong with a horrifically odd CGI baby, but director Bill Condon finds himself mostly imprisoned within protracted canoodling between Edward and Bella. And clumsy voiceovers to cover the parts visual storytelling cannot reach. He tries all sorts of tricks to deflect attention, hitting the cutaways-to-nature button like an undiscerning Nic Roeg devotee. Often his choices are ultra-cheesy or just plain naff (vampire super-fast running, the slow motion love marathons of our super-sex-charged couple). And yet, what he is doing visually is always much more interesting than anything in the middle sequels, helped along by Guillermo Navaro’s lucid cinematography.

As for subtexts, who knows what the hell is going on, but it’s all ripe for analysis; what goes through Stephenie Meyer’s peculiar Mormon mind to come up with this stuff? There’s the aforementioned fixation of Jacob with a baby/child; it’s okay that he “imprinted” on her, it’s totally natural (that’s what they all say). Then there’s the now supervamp Bella, whom Edward constantly smiles over like in slightly sickly fashion; look how he empowered her and made her all she could possibly be (after nearly killing her)!

The acting is the usually mixture of wood and ham; Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattison have given perfectly respectable performances in other movies but barely register here. Taylor Lautner, of course, makes an impression for the entirely plankish reasons he usually does. You realise that some of his dialogue might be quite mockingly amusing if he wasn’t delivering it. But also that, if anyone with any range were playing Jacob, the ultra-creepy aspect of his child-bride obsession would be even more of an issue.

The rest of the cast range from model-type eye candy posing about with nary a line to speak, to a sprinkling of proper actors either looking out of place because they can act (Peter Facinelli, Billy Burke) or because they are so over-the-top (Michael Sheen). There are others, like Dakota Fanning, where you wonder that they took the gig since it certainly wasn’t for the challenge. And then there’s that sallow Jamie Campbell Bower managing to irritate as usual just by being there smirking, Edward Scissorhands clone Jackson Rathbone remaining as unnaturally immobile as ever and Ashley Greene proving she has the best hair stylist of the cast. There’s a Kurt Cobain look-a-like vampire too, but I’m not sure how intentional that was. Maggie Grace also shows up (I think I’d forgotten she was in Part 1), this time without Liam Neeson in tow.

Just as it looked like it would end as insipidly as it had continued, there’s a big scrap. The poster, surely one of the most appalling ever designed, suggested that the final confrontation wouldn’t be worth the wait. But hats-off to Condon for a highly impressive battle sequence in the last half (take note, action directors; good staging is everything, even if the stage looks like a big white fluffy stage). This is as full-on as 12-certificate decapitation-crazy movie can be, and I was cheering away as beloved characters were offed right left and centre.

And then... I knew it was too good to be true. Still, a whole extra star for the easily the most involving half hour since the first movie. There is also a fun moment where the increasingly pay cheque-orientated Michael Sheen emits a high-pitched laugh that must have sent most of this am-dram cast scurrying in alarm behind their acting coaches.

**1/2

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