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Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2, The (Blu-ray Review)

8 Mar, 2013 By: John Latchem

Box Office $292.3
$30.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of violence including disturbing images, some sensuality and partial nudity.
Stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Mackenzie Foy, Michael Sheen, Peter Facinelli, Ashley Greene, Kellan Lutz.

For Twihards, Breaking Dawn — Part 2 is undoubtedly a gospel of pure delight that faithfully adapts the conclusion of their favorite book series. For everyone else, it’s hard to argue that the film wasn’t worthy of all those Razzies it earned.

The fans will relish the resolution of the five-film romance arc between pouty Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and brooding vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) that has made mocking the vampire genre’s place in pop culture oh so easy.

After suffering grave injuries giving birth to her half-vampire daughter, Renesmee, at the end of the previous film, Bella has been turned into a vampire by Edward, and kicks off this installment realizing how much potential she has yet to discover about her new life.

Due to her unique physiology, Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy) has grown into a 10-year-old in a matter of weeks, and is already betrothed to wolf-boy Jacob (Taylor Lautner), through his involuntary imprinting on her (and the film knows how creepy that is but has to urge the audience to just go with it).

After the drawn-out waste of padding that was Part 1, the finale teases the audience with hints of a climactic confrontation that will resolve everything. After all, that seems to be the winning formula for these kinds of films, most notably the way the “Harry Potter” movies turned its final battle into nearly the whole of the last movie.

But the “Potter” films took their time establishing detail and layering the story so that it felt like it was progressing toward something. “Twilight” is more or less spinning its wheels until it’s time to stop. The final installment promises big events, and there is a battle, sort of, but everything amounts to little more than a lengthy negotiation to establish the rights of human-hybrid vampire children within the secret vampire society.

Of course, “Twilight” is less a struggle of good vs. evil and more a soap opera about two lovers destined to be together, and overcoming all barriers to their happiness. That makes the performances of the actors involved key in establishing the credibility of the situation. But in this regard, there really doesn’t seem to be much appeal to these movies for anyone who doesn’t adore the books and thinks the films are their dreams brought to life.

To top it off, series author Stephenie Meyer teases in the bonus material that she hasn’t entirely given up on the idea of telling additional stories with these characters.

Admittedly, the filmmakers have done an admirable job bringing the books to life, and their time and effort (and money) does translate on the screen. There’s something to be said about how the production team shot both parts of Breaking Dawn simultaneously, which is impressive logistically, and how they pulled it off is the subject of another featurette.

Director Bill Condon’s commentary also is pretty good, even if he seems a little too eager to point out all the ways he tried to pay homage to classic vampire movies.

The primary extra is the series of behind-the-scenes featurettes, with extensive cast and crew interviews, that can be viewed through a picture-in-picture mode with the film, or as a standalone 90-minute documentary. These reveal just how involved visual effects were in crafting the films. Not that it isn’t obvious that most scenes are enhanced by special effects in some way, but the degree to which the filmmakers relied on CGI is actually somewhat surprising.

One example is the way they used CGI to make the infant Renesmee look like a younger Foy, and repeated the technique as the child grew into a toddler and beyond (not that the technique was 100% effective, since that baby always seem to have come from the uncanny valley).

Another is how the final battle was created in a warehouse with a floor of fake snow and an insane amount of greenscreens.

At one point during the filming of the battle, the actors played a prank on Condon by pretending to settle the score in a hilarious and massive choreographed dance-off. But seeing it begs the question: After the success of these films, could a full-on West Side Story with vampires be far behind?

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