Within the first few minutes of series-closing Twilight flick Breaking Dawn, Part 2, all-atwitter fans and faithful get everything their hearts ever hoped for: Sullen heroine Bella is now a happily married, well-adjusted vampire with pasty beau Edward by her side. Werewolves are buddying up to bloodsuckers. The sun even shines in good ol' Forks.
To which I ask: Where's the fun in that?! After four years and just as many movies of pining among the pines and all manner of lycanthropic feuds, the fifth and final installment in the Twilight saga is all about ... togetherness? Never thought I'd long for the day when Kristen Stewart's Bella slunk around as if she had eaten a plate of bad clams. Turns out the only look worse on the actor is bemused contentment.
Otherwise talented director Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters) has delivered what feels like a 115-minute epilogue, a pretty but thin thank-you note for fans of author Stephenie Meyer's YA novels and the resultant movies. Bella and Edward finally get to have rigorous horseplay ("It's your turn not to break me," he entendres), and Bella busts out the vampiric superpowers, including a slo-mo sprint through the forest that is so cheesetacular in its '70s-deodorant-ad glory, it's close to satire.
So what else is there? Not much. When we last left Bella, she was giving brutal birth to a vambino and had to be fanged by Ed in order to live. Now she has to cope with her new bloodthirst - but not really. It takes her two minutes to adjust to life as the Bride of Dracula. Don't bite people? Bite Bambi instead? Got it.
Sigh. What other problems can be wrapped up just as easily? Oh yeah, Bella's human dad (Billy Burke) needs to be told his daughter is dead. Sadness! Or not. Werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner, who delivers every line with a droll, this-is-all-so-goofy delivery) takes his shirt off, tells Bella's pop life can be nutty, and, well, problem solved.
The eventual storyline revolves around the birth of Renesmee, Bella and Edward's half-human, half-something superchild. But that arc is an immediate laugher when the woeful special effects team grafts a dumb digital baby face on the tyke. I'm telling you, the talking kid in the E-Trade commercials is more convincing.
Anyhoo, the powerful Volturi coven, a surly vampire Congress led by deliriously hammy Michael Sheen and seemingly bored Dakota Fanning, considers newborn "immortal" children to be threats and must do away with the creepy digital baby.
So the Cullen brood (including Ashley Greene's Alice, a rising star who finally gets something to do) recruits a ragtag team of related vampire outcasts to help them; you know they're related because they all wear really lame red contact lenses. It all leads to a final heads-will-roll battle on a snowy CGI winterscape.
Fair warning: There is a massive twist at film's end, yet another weak plot cop-out after finally showing some real guts (no pun intended). From the prolonged groans from a huge preview-screening audience, a lot of fans aren't going to appreciate this late-game bait-and-switch.
But alas, the best part of Breaking Dawn, Part 2 is the final 10 minutes, when the screen fills with flipping pages (a sweet nod to Meyer) and the dozens of pretty faces who made the series a smash. Cue the applause and the tears. In the end, it's not about Team Edward or Team Jacob, but all those readers and believers who make up Team Twilight. This one's for you, gang.
Sean Daly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter.
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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2
Director: Bill Condon
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene, Kellan Lutz, Billy Burke, Michael Sheen
Screenplay: Melissa Rosenberg
Rating: PG-13; vampire sex, vampire violence and related creepy vampirism
Running time: 115 min.