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‘The Twilight Saga’ ends with a whimper

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Vamp camp: The stars of Breaking Dawn face danger.

The Details

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2
Two stars
Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
Directed by Bill Condon
Rated PG-13, opens Friday
Beyond the Weekly
Official Movie Site
IMDb: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2
Rotten Tomatoes: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

Now that both parts have been released, it’s pretty clear that splitting Stephenie Meyer’s final Twilight novel, Breaking Dawn, into two movies was a bad idea. Last year’s first installment was slow and plodding, with a flat, drawn-out resolution to the love triangle among human Bella (Kristen Stewart), vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) and werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner). It certainly would have benefited from tighter pacing, but it at least ended with the promise of more suspense and excitement in the final chapter. With Bella definitively choosing Edward over Jacob, becoming a vampire and delivering a magical vampire-human hybrid baby, the story was set to shift outward, to the threat from the sinister vampire overlords known as the Volturi.

But the first hour of Breaking Dawn - Part 2 is just as slow and plodding as Part 1 was, spending time on Bella coming to terms with the absurd idea that Jacob has “imprinted” on her newborn daughter Renesmee (meaning that he will be bonded to her romantically for life), telling her perpetually clueless father (Billy Burke) that she’s “changed,” and learning all about her vampire nature. Without the love triangle, the characters’ emotions are dull and muted, and the suspense doesn’t start building until the Volturi get word of the freakishly fast-growing Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy) and declare her an abomination.

Even then, there’s little excitement, as the movie introduces a parade of hastily sketched new characters, allies that Edward and his vampire family recruit for their coming showdown with the Volturi. The vampire assembly turns into a cut-rate version of the X-Men, with the characters honing their unique abilities (Bella has developed a protective shield that can neutralize the powers of other vampires) in preparation for battle. But there’s no sense of urgency to the training or to the ill-defined threat from the Volturi, and when the climactic battle finally arrives, it’s a big letdown, full of bloodless decapitations (thanks, PG-13 rating) and awkward face-offs. Even worse, the whole thing is negated by an ending that cops out on any kind of real sacrifice or tragedy for the characters.

The usual series complaints still apply: Edward and Bella’s romance is turgid; Lautner is a terrible actor; the dialogue is functional at best. As before, Michael Sheen seems to be the only actor who understands how ridiculous all of this is, and he hams it up as the nasty leader of the Volturi. He could have been a great villain for an epic vampire movie, but he instead ends up stuck in this toothless, domesticated fantasy.

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