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Final 'Twilight,' breaking patience

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NOVEMBER 18, 2012

How to begin? For four years now, “The Twilight Saga” has been around — a delightful enchantment for devotees and an abhorrent plague for those opposed. There is no middle ground for the film adaptation of the epic love story between Edward Cullen, the besparkled vampire suitor, and Bella Swan, his misanthropic teen girlfriend. You either love it or you hate it; you either worship the torrid passion of the two ashen paramours or you actively spew burning acid on every poster with Robert Pattinson’s deadened stare. So, I repeat the question. How to begin speaking about what has quite possibly been one of the most divisive and bizarre film series of our generation?

For once, I’m speechless. My notes of the evening consist of only two words in a hastily written scrawl: “YUCK” and “BARF.” The rest of the page is blank. But then, so is “Breaking Dawn — Part 2.” The characters are blank, the plot is blank, the look is blank and the dialogue is as vacant as the opening shot of Bella Swan’s stark white face. Her eyes open the film. They’re red now. Spoiler alert: She’s now a vampire. The screen blurs, the soft soundtrack begins and then dear Edward appears. The camera focuses. Her beloved has finally arrived; they tenderly embrace. The film can now begin.

“Breaking Dawn — Part 2” begins immediately where “Part 1” left off. Bella delivered her baby, dubbed Renesmee (Renee + Esmee + “Excuse me, what did you name her again?”), via the traditional method HBSO (a.k.a. Husband Bites Stomach Open). Here’s what happens next. Edward teaches Bella how to be a vampire, Bella arm-wrestles the Cullen brother with the meat face (not the one with the look of constant constipation), Edward and Bella have sex in their new sex cottage, Renesmee grows pretty quickly, people are concerned, the Volturi think she is an immortal child, the Cullens therefore decide to battle the Volturi. Whew. Take a breather. That was the easy part.

What comes next is, as I’ve alluded to, hard to describe. One minute, the film is a family comedy that follows the hijinks of a new vampire family with lines like, “Nessie? You named my daughter after the Loch Ness monster?” Hilarious. The next minute, we are watching a dramatic war movie — rife with so many decapitations, Maximilien Robespierre would be shocked. There is no constant thread and absolutely no constant aesthetic. Unlike the somber, heavy-contrast gloom that director Catherine Hardwicke infuses the first “Twilight” film with, director Bill Condon’s take on “Breaking Dawn — Part 2” can only be best described as grossly schizophrenic.

The score, the pacing, the plot developments and the tone oscillate at the unsteady rate of a vampire clambering up a tree. In other words, it’s awkward and ridiculous. There are flashbacks of babies being burned shoe-horned between oddly comedic scenes of Jacob stripping in front of Bella’s father (prompting the frank and absurd response, “I just watched a kid I’ve known his whole life turn into a dog”) and a bewildering montage of nearly 20 new characters.

So, what is there left to say? For four years now, “The Twilight Saga” has given us wonderful moments to talk about. Who could forget the first time we saw R. Patz sparkle in the sun or the heartwarming scene where Edward bruises Bella during intercourse. But for all those chat-worthy episodes, the films do not say anything. As the final installment, “Breaking Dawn — Part 2” ties up the story, there is a twist in the starkly anti-climactic ending battle scene that is mildly surprising, but what else is there? After five films and countless scenes of Kristen Stewart’s lip biting, there’s nothing left to say. The sun has set. “Twilight” is over.

Contact Jessica at [email protected]

NOVEMBER 18, 2012

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