- Running time:
- 117 minutes
- Kristen Stewart -
- Robert Pattinson -
- Taylor Lautner -
- Billy Burke -
- Charlie Swan
- Peter Facinelli -
- Dr. Carlisle Cullen
It’s the big day for 18 year-old Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and her significantly older vampire soulmate Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson): they’re tying the knot and everyone’s thrilled, except Bella’s lovesick shapeshifter friend Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). He can’t believe Edward would risk Bella’s life by—gasp!—consummating their marriage while she’s still human. Edward’s not wild about the idea either, but their tentative honeymoon lovemaking creates an even bigger problem when Bella gets pregnant with a human-vampire hybrid that threatens to eat her from the inside out.
The buzz: Relax “Twilight” haters, the international phenomenon is almost over. The final book in Stephenie Meyer’s romantic supernatural saga has been split into two films (“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” style), supposedly do justice to a “dense” narrative but more accurately maximize profits from a wildly lucrative franchise. (“Breaking Dawn - Part 2” is scheduled for release Nov. 16, 2012.) The good news: Oscar winner Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls,” “Kinsey,” “Gods and Monsters”) takes over the rotating director’s chair for the two-part finale.
The verdict: Telepathic wolves, a human-vampire baby, a prudish bloodsucker and a marriage-crazed teen are just a few of the bizarre creatures populating “Breaking Dawn,” a film that’s alternately romantic, deranged, thrilling, absurd, amusing, laughable, horrifying and horrible. As maddeningly uneven as it is, “Breaking Dawn” boasts some of the strongest moments yet in a largely lackluster franchise. Condon has a feel for the unwavering devotion at the core of Bella and Edward’s relationship—especially in the opening’s tenderly idyllic wedding sequence—and an infectious delight in tackling the series’ infrequently explored horror elements—most notably in Bella’s blood-soaked birthing climax. But even the resourcefulness of a capable filmmaker can’t distract from the ludicrous decision spend two hours telling half of a story. Complexity of character and narrative have never been hallmarks of the series on page or screen, and there’s only so much of Bella and Edward’s chastely handled honeymoon, Bella’s self-destructive pregnancy and Jacob’s tediously warring wolf packs that we actually need to see. Giving the anemic material room to breath opens the door for a few supporting players to steal a scene here and there (most notably the always welcome Anna Kendrick as Bella’s caustic classmate and Billy Burke and Sarah Clarke as Bella’s divorced parents), but even those modest pleasures dry up as the film settles into a monotonous and over-extended midsection heavy on musical montages. Sure, the outrageously cheesy wolf summit needs to be seen to be believed, and Stewart and Pattinson continue to lend their ridiculous characters the specificity of committed professionals, with fewer affectations under Condon’s watch. But Lautner remains an emotionally inconsequential interloper in the lopsided love triangle, and a rushed showdown between vamps and wolves only prolongs the inevitable. At least when Jacob declares, “I know how this ends, and I’m not sticking around to watch,” you’ll understand exactly how he feels.
How does "Breaking Dawn" compare to the previous "Twilight Saga" films? Check out our reviews of "Twilight" (***1/2), "New Moon" (**1/2) and "Eclipse" (***)
Follow Metromix's Geoff Berkshire on Twitter: @geoffberkshire
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