Breaking Dawn (The Film, Part 2)

Breaking DawnI went to the midnight opening of the ultimate Twilight film adaptation, Breaking Dawn Part 2 (herein referred to simply as Breaking Dawn), by myself. It’s something I don’t actually mind doing, with the midnight sessions making for fascinating people watching.

This time around it may have been a little too fascinating, with the guy behind me commandeering some of my seat with his skeevy feet (see photo). But nothing—not even a raging foot phobia—could dissuade me from watching this film.

Skeevy FeetWe were subjected to some 30 minutes’ worth of previews before Breaking Dawn began, something that’s a little testing of patience when, by embarking on seeing a session that technically starts tomorrow, you’re already up way past your bedtime.

The previews were a carefully planned marketing ploy designed to smoothly carry us grieving, now-filmless Twilight fans straight into the waiting arms of the next big-budget, Meyer-related, teen angst-inspired films.

The Host film version, as with the sank-almost-without-a-trace book that preceded it (I mean, how many of us have read it? How many of us even remember that Meyer’s written anything other than Twilight?), looks entirely rubbish.

Though a surprise inclusion in the mix, and though with Ang Lee at the directing helm and a ginormous budget at his disposal, Life of Pi, looked well done. I will, for reasons previously documented, never see this film, and the previews had me snorting inappropriately and attracting what’s-wrong-with-her? glances in my seat.

The standout preview, though, was Pitch Perfect (you can watch the trailer here), which stars Anna Kendrick (best known for her role as Twilight’s Angela, and hence the not-so-subtle you-should-totes-see-this link), Rebel Wilson (who was a standout in surprise hit Bridesmaids), and Anna Camp (for whom I developed a weird respect for after seeing her play vampire-hating Christian fundamentalist pastor’s wife Sarah Newlin in True Blood).

Kendrick’s ‘rebel’ character goes to uni and is ‘encouraged’ to (read: ambushed into) join a Glee-like club. I was part way through dismissing the film entirely, except that the preview was brilliant and brilliantly funny—think Glee without the stomach-turning twee. Call me a sucker, but it looks like Step Up meets Glee meets 10 Things I Hate About You with a bit more sass in between.

But all of that is background to what this blog’s really all about: the epic, series-wrapping Twilight Saga finale. Breaking Dawn picks up where the last film left us so cliff-hangingly (I mean, who didn’t gasp when Bella suddenly opening her newly red vampire eyes?). That is: two days after Renesme’s birth and Bella’s transition to vampiredom.

TwilightThe film opens with its characteristically beautiful-come-haunting theme song, with landscapes and nature writ large—as in macro—on screen. It’s a show-don’t-tell way of demonstrating Bella’s now-acute senses of sight, sound, and smell, and the first time we gain insight into what Edward has been experiencing all along.

From thereon in Breaking Dawn is like donning the movie equivalent of a comfortable onesie—daggy, not something you really want others to know you enjoy, but oh so comfortingly fantastic.

Breaking Dawn’s an assured adaptation of the hefty doorstop of a book, which many of us simultaneously loved and despised. Having signed on for the Twilight Saga saga, we had to complete its final installation. But Breaking Dawn read as though Meyer had both lost the plot and that she’d become too famous to be edited.

Thankfully, the film whittles the too-long book down to its key elements, reigns in some of the crazy plots (and stupid names) and, as a result, most of the characters and the tale come off looking reasonably believable. Or as believable as a bunch of humans playing vampires and werewolves in a chaste teen romance can.

Even the imprinting, which I had expected to come off paedo-creepy was well handled (and surprisingly entertaining, with Bella practically beating Jacob up and Edward watching on and refusing to intervene with unabashed glee). The romance in the love nest is tastefully done and not too awkward and corny, with Emmett allowed a ‘Did you break a lot of stuff?’ nod to the more adult elements.

Writing of breaking things, Bella’s new-found strength and speed lend themselves to some solidly funny moments, not least when she’s trying to practice walking to and sitting on a chair or when Emmett challenges her to an arm wrestle. And Kirsten Stewart made me laugh at her lip-curling and occasionally constipated stance as she tried to summon Bella’s added-in-post-production force field. I’ve missed that poor acting and frowny pout.

Volturi leader Aro is, as ever, awesomely creepy, his eyes widening in glee when he discovers the Cullen’s might have committed a killable crime. I laughed out loud when he uttered—and it could be an inadvertent coincidence, but I’m taking it to be a wink and a nod to Fifty Shades, the bestseller that Twilight inspired—‘Oh my’.

That’s not to say that Breaking Dawn’s entirely free of clunkers. The running that Bella now does with Edward is akin to the much-mocked tree climbing of previous films: super, special effects-induced cheesy. And there’s nothing more to say about the meme-inspiring sparkling in the sunlight. Except that there’s no such thing as too many sparkly vampire memes. I will also go so far as to risk hate mail by saying I think they could have chosen a better-looking baby (that and it appeared they were doing some weird soft focus around her face, which didn’t help).

Fifty Shades of GreyBella says that she was ‘born to be a vampire’, and it feels that both she and this film have finally found their feet. Maybe it’s that they’ve worked out what works or rather what doesn’t (CGI wolves, anyone?) or everyone’s finally relaxed and grown a bit into their roles, but Breaking Dawn is confident and fun and breathtaking.

Without giving too much away, there are also some elements that left (me included) the audience I-can’t-believe-that-happened gasping and then clapping in a far-out-this-adaptation-is-good kind of way. And then there are some that left me in slightly emotional awe.

The film includes some subtle nods to the films that have gone before and come full circle to recall and farewell the series’ cast and characters. There mightn’t be any outtakes (as we’d seen with Part 1 and as I’d so desperately hoped for Part 2) but I still recommend staying until the final credits roll. Now to just hang out for the 6 December Australian release of Pitch Perfect.