** (out of four)
Perhaps on some level people fixate on the Kristen Stewart/Robert Pattinson offscreen drama because nothing in “The Twilight Saga” burns as strongly or clearly as infidelity.
Yes, there’s the totally monumental love between vampire Edward (Pattinson) and former human, new vampire Bella (Stewart). Yet the films based on Stephenie Meyer’s books almost always have failed to fill in details about anything but the complicated yearning between two beings challenged by mythical urges. There’s little story left in “Breaking Dawn—Part 2,” yet the film possesses more backstory than writer Melissa Rosenberg can possibly articulate.
Nevermind that the primary conflict in the voiceover-heavy “BDP2” revolves around an assumed misunderstanding and the hope that there’s enough time for Edward and Bella’s daughter, Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy), to touch the face of Volturi leader Aro (Michael Sheen). The film, already crowded with family and friends who barely contribute, adds something like 20 to 30 new characters. Several of them appear, say or do nothing, and depart as if it’s a big deal. It’s pretty difficult to care which vampires may have their heads yanked off like a twisted kid’s Pez dispenser when you’re constantly thinking, “Who is that again?” or “What’s up with that old guy who kind of looks like Bill Nighy?” And, “Does anyone actually think ‘paralyzing vapor’ looks intimidating?”
Fortunately, the space fillers include great actors like Lee Pace and Wendell Pierce, and a lighthearted opening section helps “BDP2” move quicker than most of its predecessors. (“Eclipse” remains the series’ best by far.) As Bella adapts to her new vampire instincts, which include increased waterfall-hopping abilities and an insatiable craving for the stubbly deliciousness of human mountain climber, the film becomes almost playful. The same goes for Bella arm-wrestling with Emmett (Kellan Lutz) and Edward telling Bella that, yes, vampires don’t need to sleep, and that’s why their beds are not for sleeping. They later suggest that conflict-free vampire life consists of a perpetual sex-a-thon. Hubba hubba.
It’s still hard for viewers to immerse themselves in a world with such poor special effects, and “BDP2” enhances its soap opera’s corniness without intensifying the feelings. Jacob (forever-terrible Taylor Lautner) involuntarily imprinting his werewolf DNA, or whatever the hell that process entails, on Renesmee remains crazy creepy. And not just because she appears to have no say in the matter.
The finale suggests the entire franchise probably could have been condensed to one or two movies and been a lot better off. Instead, a massively hyped series comes to an end without making much of an impression in four years and five movies. Clearly time flies even when we're not having any fun.
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