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Film Review: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part II


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So this is it: the end. After four years of quasi-religious teenage fans screaming “bite me” at the top of their lungs, the final instalment of The Twilight Saga has arrived.

Breaking Dawn

Released today and premiered in Leicester Square on Wednesday, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part II brings to a close a series of films which have created a hype incomparable to anything seen before.

So, is the film a worthy send-off for the fans or is the whole thing, as many critics believe, slightly anaemic?

Picking up from where the previous film left off and directed again by Bill Condon, Breaking Dawn – Part II sees the Cullen family call on other vampire clans to help protect Bella and Edward's daughter, Renesmee, from the Volturi who falsely believe that she is a threat to their existence.

From the beginning it is clear that the moping, moody and rather feeble Bella of old is long gone. Now a vampire, Bella relishes in her new-found skills, darting around a forest in a cocktail dress (not the most practical attire, I know), trying to hunt and repress her desire for human blood. Her newly-acquired strength is used to great effect (and much to the dismay of Emmett Cullen, played by Kellan Lutz) and it was quite refreshing to see her take control of events around her.

Robert Pattinson's smouldering look has now been honed to a fine art and the chemistry between Edward and Bella, now cemented with the presence of their daughter (played by 12 year-old actress Mackenzie Foy), seemed unforced and believable. There is little doubt that the franchise has become rather self-conscious: the obligatory scene in which Taylor Lautner removes his shirt (and trousers this time!) was greeted – rather fittingly – with wolf whistles from the audience and it was obvious that the films have become acutely-aware of what the fans want.

In narrative terms, the film's first half did feel rather episodic and disjointed as moments from the book were translated to the screen. On another level, the film suffers from introducing too many characters, with too little to do and who end up standing around as if waiting for a family photo. Even the most devoted 'Twi-hards' may find keeping track of who's-who a little confusing, although the dynamics between Edward, Bella and Jacob seemed genuine, funny and were nicely developed.

The film's final act was both demented and bizarre, as the Volturi (led by the bubbly evil of Michael Sheen) closed in on the Cullens. This is not to say that, in a strange way, the denouement wasn't enjoyable. In fact, it is so mad that it kind of works and, without giving too much away, it offers a twist that even fans of the books may not be expecting.

From a visual perspective, the film retains a CGI aesthetic – most obvious in a love scene between Bella and Edward – and certainly looks glossy. Although a stylish title sequence promised much, Condon moved the camera around with relatively-little flair and only began to pick things up in the final sequences. Fans will be kept happy by a montage end credit sequence set to Christina Perri's A Thousand Years and, in general, will be very pleased with the conclusion to the ultimate vampire love story.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part II isn't a fantastic film by any means. But what it does succeed in doing is bringing the franchise to a satisfactory end for fans. The cast have matured and developed into their roles, the romance which enchanted so many in the beginning is still alive and well and it does, in the end, remain true to the spirit of Stephenie Meyer's novels.

Popular with older critics it may not be, but The Twilight Saga has struck a cord with millions of people, many of whom will defend the series to the death. And you can't argue with that.

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