Twi not to fall asleep to Breaking Dawn

Review 1: The Twi-Hard
***
By Naomi Mdudu

I like Twilight. A lot. Probably too much for someone who left her teenage years a good while ago. So, I had high hopes for the final instalment – hopes that weren’t entirely realised.

The story picks up where we left off, shortly after Bella (Kristen Stewart) almost died giving birth and Edward (Robert Pattinson) was forced to turn her into a vampire in order to save her. The resulting baby is born half human half vampire, leading the Volturi (the Vampire law enforcers) to conclude that Bella and Edward have, in some way, broken an ancient vampire law.

The Volturi’s attempts to bring them to justice results in a major showdown, which sees author Stephanie Meyer and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg deviate from the plot of the book (resulting in the best bit of the whole movie, which probably doesn’t say much for Meyer’s writing).

The first part of the movie focuses on Bella. We follow her as she gets to grips with hunting, which involves crawling around on all fours wearing a cocktail dress and controlling her urge to feed on humans, followed by a sex scene, vampire style (the bit most of the Twi-hards have been waiting for).

Sadly, a little too much of the first half consists of a lot of scenes showing the Cullen clan (that’s Edward’s lot) doing a lot of standing around, with the odd one-liner thrown in to stop you falling asleep.

It picks up in the second half, although the big battle scene – the climactic highlight of the whole franchise – lacks the drama of the final Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. It’s more like a watered-down version of the X-Men, complete with vampires armed with powers like control over the elements or electric hands. On a positive note, Bella comes into her own as a strong female lead in this film, despite being hampered by the limited dialogue she’s given, which denies Stewart the opportunity to really flex her acting muscles. And that’s generally true of the other characters too, not least the rather brilliant Michael Sheen, back as Aro, leader of the Volturi.

Will any of this stop the fans lining up in their droves to go and see it? Certainly not. Whether it’s worth all the hype, though, is an entirely different question.

Review 2: The Twi-what?
*
By Steve Dinneen

If you’ve not been following the Twilight franchise, Breaking Dawn part 2, the final instalment, is a bad place to start.

Thankfully, the plot is threadbare enough for newbies to pick up pretty quickly: there are a load of vampires with trendy haircuts living in an IKEA showroom in the woods. Two of them have a baby, Renesmee, who has, for no obvious reason, a terrifying computer generated face. Maybe it’s a vampire thing. There are also some werewolves knocking around and one of them has a crush on the new-born baby. Yep, on the baby. The baby’s mother is understandably flipped out by this but everyone else seems to be fine with it and it’s pretty much forgotten about after five minutes, which, all things considered, is probably for the best. Then some bad vampires, led by the brilliantly camp Michael Sheen, arrive, spoiling for a fight.

It’s difficult to tell which bits of arbitrarily applied vampire-lore were introduced in previous iterations and which are just so clumsily inserted you assume they must have been explained at some point (Bella, for instance, is a “shield”, who can project magic that looks a bit like the worm-holes in Donnie Darko. She just can, alright?).

The problem, though, isn’t how barking the premise is (it’s no odder than your average Terry Gilliam movie). The problem is, it’s interminably dull, with everyone bar Michael Sheen remaining steadfastly po-faced as they reel off their toe-curlingly clunky lines. Every so often director Bill Condon offers a hint that he’s in on the joke but for the most part this is pure, condensed teen angst.

Robert Pattinson has surprisingly little to do except glower moodily from under a permanently furrowed brow and try to keep a straight face as he says things like: “Now it’s your turn not to break me.” Both he and Stewart have the ability to work at a far higher level (think Cosmopolis and On the Road, respectively).

The rest of the movie is made up of a series of disjointed set pieces crowned by a big fight that, while derivative of every superhero movie from the last decade, is at least sweet relief from the lead-heavy dialogue.

Breaking Dawn part 2 is both bloated and dull, gaudy and flat. It’s a vampire movie without bite, and that is unforgivable.

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