'Breaking Dawn - Part 2' livens up the 'Twilight' franchise - finally

Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2." BY SUMMIT ENTERTAINMENT
November 26, 2012

Releasing "Breaking Dawn" and "Red Dawn" within a week of each other has led to some wonderfully imaginary mash-ups in my mind. For example, the werewolves of "Breaking" are replaced by the teen-militant Wolverines of "Red," and instead of a Communist invasion we are witness to a vampiric infiltration that a group of young high school soldiers fends off with heavy artillery.

The result is an epic, cheese-saturated bloodbath in which there are no survivors.

A fella can dream, right?

I will state, up front, that "The Twilight Sage: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" is by far the best film in the “Twilight” franchise. This is kind of like saying, “This is by far my most favorite fever blister,” but let me at least give credit where credit is due.

This is the first one that did not actively make me want to wrap my hands around the film's pasty, glittery throat and strangle a good story, acting and direction out of it as if from a tube of toothpaste. Whether it is rejoicing in ending its contractual obligations or simply embracing its Harlequin Vampire roots, there actually seems to be an energy to this chapter that had been so stifled by sulking and burrowed by brooding in the previous films that it never saw the light of day before.

Even lead Kristen Stewart, who plays the matron of morose, Bella, manages to curl her lips upward in what resembles something other than anguish ... even close to the emotion known as joy. This brings her total of expressions in the series to two.

Picking up right from the end of the last film, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1” (yes, the title is as awkward and gangly as its pubescent fan base), Bella is recovering from the birth of her child, Renesmee (pity the poor children of fans who will undoubtedly be saddled with this cruel name). Bella was forced to “go vampire” by her husband, Edward Cullen (played by Robert Pattinson), in order to save her life during labor.

In the initial scenes, she’s not only on the mend, but has a charisma infusion, allowing her to display her brand-new superpowers, springing through the forest and quenching her blood lust alongside her hubby. It’s like a second honeymoon, but with a higher body count.

They return to find things not so blissful back home, when it is revealed her former teen-wolf tryst Jacob (played by Taylor Lautner) has “imprinted” on their bundle of joy.

Any dog owner knows exactly what this means, and while in real life this usually results in a couple whacks on the pooch’s nose with a rolled-up newspaper, it is apparently a far more consequential event within the context of the “Twilight” universe.

What this does mean is that Jacob was always meant to be with their baby girl, and as icky and awkward as this all sounds, it is even more laughably uncomfortable with Lautner trying to navigate this rather precarious emotional subplot. Granted, little Renesmee grows at an alarmingly rapid rate (she’s, like, 7 within weeks of being born), and watching Lautner try to maneuver through the complex rationalization of it is like watching a grade-school adaptation of “Schindler’s List.”

News of the birth of this little bloodsucker reaches the vampire governing body, the Volturi, who are none too pleased with it and descend upon the town to regulate.

It concludes in an epic, Grand Guignol battle in which heads are severed, jaws are ripped apart, poorly animated wolves are killed and people are set ablaze like kindling sticks. It’s as though director Bill Condon finally tossed the script and yelled, “Ahhh, screw it! We’ve got tons of money, I’m bored as hell ... Let’s bust some skull!”

This time he seems all too aware of just how seriously the films took themselves, and he slips in some rather amusing bits that break up the monotony of the proceedings.

And while the list of the film's (and franchise's) faults is lengthy, at this point picking on it is like taking a swing at Honey Boo Boo - just far too easy. So, I will instead praise the film for what it has done, what it does include, what it gets right ... and that it is finally over.

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