I didn’t think I’d see this movie. After finishing the final review of the book series, I’d planned to call things done and move on. After all, the movies covering Eclipse and the first half of Breaking Dawn were such retreads of the books that, with admittedly how tired I was by that point in the series of reviews, I just didn't think there was enough material to justify the time spent banging out another comparison article for them.
But then I read a few reviews and, damningly, several of them claimed that the series was actually improving with its final installment, and that it went out on something of a high note. It would’ve been a lie to say they were written by people with no love of the franchise, since these were professional film critics. However, for all my hatred for the series, I still fancy myself a person who tries to give things a fair chance to prove themselves.
So I went and I saw it.
Was my opinion of the movie less positive than those reviews I read? Yes, but more than anything that’s because those critics have probably only watched the movies. They haven’t read the series, spending book upon book trapped in the head of one emo nincompoop or another. Their perceptions of the main characters haven’t been forever colored by all that whining the way mine have.
But is it better than the movies that came before? Does the franchise end on something of a high note? Is it really better than the last and worst literary turd crapped out by someone whose name we’ll hopefully never see on an ebook cover ever again?
Yes, I’d say that.
But keep in mind we’re talking about Breaking Dawn. The one even fans rebelled against.
The only way to go was up.
I’m not going to go into an elaborate breakdown of the movie. I saw it once, in a theater, and plan to leave it at that. Twilight’s moment in history has passed and it’s time to find new things to work ourselves into frothing-at-the-mouth frenzies about. I’ll pick some categories and tell you why they sucked or why they were decent. And spoilers will be present and unforgiving. Last chance to turn back.
The Movie In General
- Bella, Eddie and Jake pack things up and head up to Alaska to ask their buddies there for their help. We see the others in other countries to enjoin their other friends’ aid too. Finally, we get away from Forks for a while and the Cullens seem less like a bunch of lazy-ass reactionists for a bunch of super-awesome vampiric superheroes.
- We see the Volturi killing the Alaskans’ mom and the little boy vampire she created. And it’s brought up when it’s actually relevant to the plot, instead of being shoehorned in before the wedding so Steph can say she totally did mention that after all. It’s not a great scene; the Alaskans are still such a non-part of the series you still don’t care much about them, but the movie still handles it better than Steph did.
- The useless J. Jenks subplot is still included. However it’s over a lot sooner, and Jasper and Alice did all the work for Bella. Meaning we’re spared that insipid “Jacob and Vanessa Wolfe” crapola.
- With all of Bella’s pointless monologuing taken out, all the stuff they could keep comes at you nonstop. Even more than the other movies. Especially for the first half hour or so, it feels like the movie just won’t let up.
- In the book I got the impression Bella and Edward’s cottage was just a house where they could go to have time to themselves. That it didn’t have modern amenities like power and running water, because the people who live there are vampires and obviously don’t need any such things. Maybe that was just me trying to make the idea a little less ridiculous and make the Cullens look less like morons who have no idea how to lay low. Well, in the movie it has lights and our couple take a bath together there. Where the hell does that stuff come from? What web of lies and payoffs surrounds the cottage that nobody asks how a small-town doctor could afford to give his son and new daughter-in-law such a gift? When was it built that nobody knows about it and the surrounding woodland is totally undisturbed? What’s the point when they’ve really only got a year or two tops in the area before they have to move again even with things being all hunky-dory at the end of the movie, and would have to wait at least two generations before anybody who could recognize them would be out of the picture? Are Bella and Edward that freaking special to the rest of the family? Are the Cullens that loose with their money despite trying to blend into a small town? Yes, they are. It’s that kind of story.
Vampires in General
- In the early scenes they really did create a sense that Bella’s at the peak of her newborn strength. Edward even wryly remarks that “It’s your turn not to break me.” I don’t remember if that was in the book, but I doubt it.
- When we see the other vampires, there’s none of Meyer’s infamous whitewashing as a side effect of vampirism. Everybody looks like a member of the race they’re supposed to.
- Vampires look even more ridiculously powerful in live-action. During her first hunt, where Bella almost slips and kills a rock climber, she then jumps off the side of a mountain and looks like she goes down a good hundred and fifty feet or more without injury. I know vampires are usually supposed to be hard to hurt, but this is Twilight, the series that created an entire race of invincible Mary Sues. At least most bad stories that give the Sue powers stemming from a supernatural bloodline also make them more special by making them the last or one of the last of their kind. Yes that’s annoying, but Twilight took the bold step of showing how much more annoying the opposite can be.
- Vampires using their powers still looks stupid, especially moving super-fast. Especially at the end when the Volturi leave the clearing at super-speed. They don’t even look like they’re running; they appear to be walking when they vanish into the distance via the magic of sped-up footage.
- I know vampires don’t get cold, but the amazons look ridiculous enough showing up in their little Shanna the She-Devil animal hide bikinis, doubly so standing out in the snowy battlefield like that. And wearing war paint. Fucking war paint! Same goes for the half-vampire dude when he shows up in nothing but a loincloth. How did they all get to Forks, when it appears none of them once changed their clothes during the trip? Did they run? All the way from South America to upper Washington state? Do sparklepires have an inherent GPS instinct too?
- How does super-senses-equipped veteran vampire Edward fail to notice how Bella threw a book on the fire? It's sitting right there on top of the logs.
- Kristen Stewart looks the same as ever, just with CGI’d vampire eyes. So becoming more beautiful because of the change to vampirism seems like more meaningless hyperbole from a monomaniacal author.
- The movie doesn’t skip the part where she freaks out at Jacob imprinting on Nessie, so we actually see her bounce Jacob around and hurt Seth in her childlike petulance. Again, for her being a stupid cunt to stand out, she’d have to not be a stupid cunt all the time.
- Bella masters her powers even faster because of having to shovel everything into two hours. And she still tries to shield Edward from Aro out of instinct before she realizes that would only make things worse, but it doesn’t say why she’s doing that or why she stops.
Jacob (and a little bit of Charlie)
- He seems smarter and more able to stand up for himself in this version. When Jacob goes and tells Charlie that Bella’s alive, I got the sense it was less because he didn’t see any reason not to, and more because it was the only way he knew how to strike back at Bella’s intent to leave and take Nessie with her. The reason he did it’s no less disgusting, though…
- The scene where Jacob reveals his werewolf form to Charlie, getting naked as he intimates that Charlie knows so little about what's going on with him, Bella, and the Cullens, was hilarious. What a few moments like that would’ve done for my ability to put up with the books.
- At the end Jake does run off with Nessie, and as the wolves start to get slaughtered there was this nice moment where he slows down even though a vampire’s chasing them, and he seems torn between his friends and his loyalty to Nessie, showing just messed up being imprinted has made him.
- In person, Aro seems more like the devious mastermind he’s meant to be (at least in a campy comic book sense), rather than the mincing pixie of an arch villain he was in the books. On the other hand, in person the mincing pixie parts work better too. The noise he makes when he meets Nessie was worth the price of admission all by itself.
- Aro pats his species on the back less hard when talking about modern weaponry. Instead of that idiotic, loaded "destroy some of us" remark, he just says "destroy us."
- The movie acts even more like the Volturi are an evil dictatorship and ignores their other effects on the world, with Edward talking about their right to live the way they choose when asking the other vampires to fight if it comes to that. The movie doesn’t shy away from the fact that most of the vampires he says that to still prey on humans, even if it doesn’t show him lending them his collection of cars to do so, either. So we’re still ignoring the existence of vampire warlords and powermongers even with the role they played in Jasper’s secret origin.
- We finally get to see that that battle we were denied in the book, and we’re down a few Cullens by the end. It’s everything you could’ve hoped for from all the descriptions of vampire powers and whatnot. I swear I heard the Mortal Kombat music playing in back of that scene.
- Bella Swan is not and never will be believable as a badass killing machine, vampirism or no. Her sparkly block of wood of a husband only slightly more so.
- Leah dies.
It still starts with an idiotic debate session about loopholes and things the Volturi didn’t know existed.
It’s still resolved by the half-vampire dude showing up. In a loincloth.
- It never really happened.
Feeding us bullshit right up until the end.
Did I honestly think they might change?
I did. I’m kind of an idiot that way, I guess.
The End Credits
- The movie ends on the actual last page of text from the book. Please don’t remind me of that.
- They’re not just the end credits of this movie, they’re the end credits of the entire fucking series. We get credits for characters who weren’t even in this movie. Like Bella's classmates. And James, Laurent and Victoria. Both of them. And the credits specify who was who for everybody, even though a lot of the witness vampires weren’t even named. And could hardly be called characters even in the original work.
- If the author had a cameo, I thankfully missed it. Don’t tell me if I did, or where I should look to see her. It’s over.