March 21, 2013
Is Breaking Dawn - Part 2 the worst movie of 2012 as awarded by the Razzies or is it the must-see-movie as anointed by screaming teeny-bopping wanna-be-Bellas?
I have to side with the juvie vamping vixens. It's definitely not a great movie, but it is the best action movie where both sexes are smart, virile, viral, totally equal and equally exquisite.
The fifth installment of the cine-saga chronicles the swansong of Bella's fickle feral attraction to two teens - one a vampire, the other a werewolf - culminating in her marriage to the vampire. For the culturally uncool, that would be Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan who hooks up with Rob Pattinson as Edward Cullen, while Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black is ordained as god-daddy of the couple's offspring, Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy).
This installment launches after Bella and Edward's über-amorous honeymoon and the resulting pregnancy and birth of the miscegenated missy, (a combo of hominid and vampirehood). The difficult delivery precipitates Bella's transformation to sanguine-sucker. The movie opens with Bella high on whatever trips Dracula's descendants into airborne airheads.
The much-ado-about-nothing two hour flic pivots on a misunderstanding over the new baby and escalates into a concocted conflict between international vamp camps. The bloodsucking rip-off of the bloodletting 300 (the movie where the few Spartans battle and bludgeon over 100,000 Persians) features elegant immortals (each one more exotic than the next) executing a beautiful bloody balletic world war.
A good story should take precedence and overwhelm every embellishment of a film - here it does not.
But for me, the visuals, ambient sounds, animal effects, costuming, kick-ass choreography and casting catch the slack.
The casting, in fact, was the first and foremost genius of the franchise. Thank Catherine Hardwicke for that. (She was the first director of the Twilight Saga's five films.) Her insight identified the actors who would bring the story to life and magnetize the audience to return again and again. (Can you imagine any replacements for the charismatic trio? Sure, their private lives can be a little tiresome, but Catherine knew their charm was the real deal -- as it proved to be in and out of theaters.)
Vampy/campy Michael Sheen as master warrior Aro personifies the consistency of casting that continued to the Twilight finale.
While the eye candy and aerial antics escalate, the Twilight series storyline spirals downward into banalities and contrivances as Bella morphs from teen to mom.
So stop the saga already.
But will she? Will Stephanie Meyer, the multi-millionaire author of the Twilights call it quits? Au contraire. She is pondering the future of the bella Bella: "Will I put the character away forever? Do I want it to be over? Should I want to keep going?"
No, Stephanie, you shouldn't. Bella has bottomed out and Edward has moved on.
But my guess is "yes, she will". That infectious and talented Mackenzie Foy as Renesmee is cute enough to inspire her own special saga.
Please, this time, the story must be on a par with the production. A bellisima production does not a great movie make. Surely everlasting life can beget better storylines than this one. If not, pity the vampire.
By the time another Meyer movie is made, a new crop of hormonal teens will have to be sucked up and turned. They may want more than seductive settings, compelling casting, sculpted abs, magical athleticism and unrequited-cum-consummated sex.
Then again, maybe not. The Twilight Saga ascribes to this immortal Hollywood formula for success. It sucks but it works.
Of course any film should stand on its own without the props of the Bonus Extras, but as a Features freak, I loved it. For me, this movie succeeds totally on the shaky legs of the back story on the Bonus DVD.
Were I to teach Movie Making 101, "Forever: Filming Breaking Dawn Part 2" - the seven-part "making of" documentary - would be my prime instructional tool. The Bella film fivesome would be the required viewing and the Features would be my syllabus. I would dissect the Extras chapter by chapter, for better or for worse, for feats and for failures.
Since Director Bill Condon shot both Breaking Dawn - Part 1 and 2 simultaneously, it is no surprise that the "Two Movies at Once" featurette has much to show-and-tell.
(For the class, I would segue into the films written and directed by Director Condon: Gods and Monsters, Kinseyand Dreamgirls. His credentials are substantial.)
In the doc, even the writers get respect: Meyers who wrote the books and Melissa Rosenberg who wrote the five Saga screenplays. They make significant contributions to the behind-the-scenes narrative.
Sure, you can make a great movie without all the latest computer embellishments and without so much money. (Truth is you could make a better movie without the Twilight trappings - without the posh location shoots or the pricey animated wooly wolves or the omnipresent green-screen composites.)
Still the Feature Documentary covers the range of contemporary movie-making possibilities and demonstrates how a talented team of cinematic artists achieved and sometimes shortchanged them.
O.K, so you are not prepared to sign up for freshman Movie Making. You already have a life and you just want to sit back, feet up, eyes on the screen, snacks at hand.
I think the best way to enjoy this film is to watch the Feature Documentary first. Since the plot is only an afterthought, spoilers be damned. I had to go back to the movie for a second viewing to relish the accomplishments that I missed on the first go-round.
But if you are fed up with my advice, go back in time. Buy the better Bella. That would be Bela Lugosi in his legendary roles as the classic celluloid vampire.
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Director: Bill Condon
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone, Kellan Lutz, Nikki Reed, Billy Burke, Chaske Spencer, Mackenzie Foy, Maggie Grace, Jamie Campbell Bower, Christopher Heyerdahl, Michael Sheen
Length: 115 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
7.1 DTS HD Master Audio
5.1 Dolby Digital
English SDH and Spanish