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Thursday, 13 December 2012

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2



Directed by: Bill Condon

Produced by: Wyck Godfrey
Karen Rosenfeldt
Stephenie Meyer

Screenplay by: Melissa Rosenberg
Stephenie Meyer

Based on: Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

Starring: Kristen Stewart
Robert Pattinson
Taylor Lautner

Music by: Carter Burwell

Cinematography by: Guillermo Navarro

Editing by: Virginia Katz

Studio(s): Lionsgate
Summit Entertainment

Distributed by: Summit Entertainment

Release date(s): November 16, 2012

Running time: 116 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Production budget: $120 million

Box office revenue (as of publication): $752, 660, 131


Alrighty folks, I'm back on track where my reviews are regarded, and for anyone who's interested, the same can be said with my impending Nietzsche essay. I've changed the question, and frankly I'm cheating a bit because the subject being Wagner I get a good excuse to lie on the couch and listen to Tristan Und Isolde all day. Also, here's a brief rundown of the reviews I've got coming up for the month of November: Dead Heads, Iron Sky, The Raid: Redemption, The Devil Inside, The Cabin In The Woods and Wrath Of The Titans. So, for occasional film reviews and more babbling about irrelevant subjects, keep your eyes posted!

Right, today's film for review is for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2. Just take that title in one more time, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, because it is the last time I will ever have to write an under-abbreviated, over-punctuated title in relation to The Twilight Saga. In other words, this is the last one in the series. It has been a long and rocky ride that this series has took me on, so I'll give a brief background for context sake: I have seen every single Twilight movie, okay, so I know what I'm talking about! That wretch over at Danland Movies (who I saw the first two with) gave up on them two movies ago, so take into account I have spent a total running time of six-hundred and nine minutes in the the theatres watching the Twilight films. Furthermore, I have read the first two books, so believe me, I've done my research and tried to understand this franchise, even if I don't always agree with it. I liked Twilight, I hated New Moon, thought Eclipse was very good and didn't like Breaking Dawn - Part 1, so that's is where we are sitting at, a real mixed bag of movies. Also, I'd be lying if I said I didn't go into this with a degree of trepidation, thinking it was going to be terrible, so here's a brief plot synopsis following my less than brief contextual background: we enter Breaking Dawn - Part 2 where the last film ended, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) having become transformed into a vampire. Not only has she new fangled powers to get a grip with, she now has a child, Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy), by her longtime-lover now husband Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). However, complications abound, given that her friend Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) has imprinted on Renesmee (it's not what it sounds like!) and that The Volturi have caught wind of Renesmee's existence, and believing her to be an 'immortal child,' a violation of Volturi law, set out to destroy the child. Sold? Let's get right down to it!

Starting with the good about Breaking Dawn - Part 2, I must praise the tonal shift that the film takes from the previous instalments. Part of my problem with the Twilight franchise was that it was so serious and steeped in emo-melancholia that it come across as saccharine and vomit-inducing. This time, the film is camped up a bit, and there are some interesting sexual and gender politics at play here. There's a very funny scene involving Taylor Lautner and Billy Burke that highlights one of the many absurdities of the story. I mean, lets face it, there's something homo-erotic about the half-naked Quileute's and the heavily done up Volturi, whose leader Aro could pass for a drag queen. Speaking of which, Michael Sheen's presence is always a breath of fresh air, and he does have this chameleonic charm about him, so much so that you pay great attention to him every time his onscreen. Also, kudos to Sheen for the most insane laugh I've seen in a film, which proved to be a real standout moment. Acting wise, Kristen Stewart is given more to do this time round and succeeds. Since the last film, I've discovered that the problem was not her as an actor, but Melissa Rosenberg's scripts and characterisation, and playing a Bella who has finally taken control of her destiny is a pleasure to behold given what we've been through beforehand. Although in a reduced capacity this time round, Taylor Lautner is as ever an entertaining and engaging screen presence. Technically, this is also an astute movie. Guillermo Navarro's cinematography effectively captures the necessary atmosphere, and I must give a word or two to the stunt co-ordinators. The fight/battle scene which occurs towards the climax of the film is superbly choreography, and yes, it's a 12A-certificate movie, but by God (bah Gawd!) if some if that stuff isn't hard-hitting. In conjunction with the special effects teams, you do get this feeling of power and weight behind the impact of every punch, kick etc. Finally, Bill Condon must be praised for keeping control over these proceedings, because as evidenced by the last film, New Moon and indeed the books, Twilight is something that can really go off the rails and be handled poorly. I think Condon has directed a very respectful adaptation, given that there is a lot for Twi-Hards to enjoy (only this film could get away with a splendid ten-minute cast list as the part of the credits), but also from a casual standpoint. I'm a curmudgeonly cynic who isn't fussed on Twilight and likes his vampires ripping out people's throats, but I must confess I found myself rather enjoying the film.

Now, I did enjoy the film much more than I would expect, but that does not mean that it's without flaws, because it certainly possesses them. Every screen instalment of the Twilight saga has a different director, with this technically being the second part to a film shot back-to-back, Bill Condon having made both parts. The real auteur of the franchise is clearly Melissa Rosenberg, who has wrote every film from the very beginning. She's credited with keeping the series faithful to the books, but certain things that work in books don't work in film. As such, what we have in the process of adaptation, or translation in the case of Stephenie Meyer, in that problems not necessarily inherent in the books become a hindrance here. There's a large amount of tedious, expository detail that doesn't seem to do anything to move the plot forward whatsoever. Much of the movie does feel like an extended third act of a James Cameron movie (and those third acts are long as it is!). Also, once again, the CGI-werewolves looked terribly dodgy. I know it's nitpicking, especially as everyone points them out, but in their defence I must say at least this time like Dug and Alpha from Pixar's Up. Carter Burwell, who I normally like, delivers a real workman's score that just reeks of music which a producer has just told him depicts a certain emotion. Also, it's a broad musical score, but the problem about a broad, classical-Hollywood score is that it doesn't head in any real direction but just floats in a void of nothingness: what is an 'Emotional Heartstrings Orchestra' score paradoxically turns out to be a vacuous, snore-inducing windbag (I was going to say bagpipe, but that's an instrument that would wake you up!).

These things being said, it being a flawed film where script, music and CGI-werewolves (LOL! Last time you'll catch me using that wretched acronym!), this is a good movie. There, this world-weary cynical grump, veteran of thousands upon thousands of movies (no kidding!) actually liked this movie. It doesn't take itself too seriously, something the previous instalments were guilt of, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner were good, as was the magnetic Michael Sheen, Guillermo Navarro's cinematography looks fine, and the extended fight sequence was a marvellous piece of filmmaking. Although this is all clearly Twilight and Melissa Rosenberg is the auteur, Bill Condon places enough of his own stamp on this movie to make it interesting and enjoyable enough.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 6.9/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Playing it cool (given I've a Nietzsche essay due tomorrow and I'm chilling...)


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