'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II' Review: Stewart Anchors Fan-Friendly Franchise Finale

“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2” is a perfect example of how an anti-climatic ending in the book can be tweaked and changed for the better in the “movie world.”  

“Part 2” picks right up where we left off in “Part 1.” Bella (Kristen Stewart) wakes up after giving birth to her daughter Renesmee (played by Mackenzie Foy later in the film). After nearly dying in childbirth, Bella is saved by vampire hubby Edward (Robert Pattinson) biting her, therefore making her into one of the undead.

Now that Bella is a newborn vamp, she must learn to control her thirst for blood. Edward takes her out into the forest of Forks, Washington to hunt. Bella and Edward are running and jumping all over the place and the two have never looked happier. How sweet it is. After Bella kills a mountain lion and has her first taste of blood it's time for the happy couple to return home, so she can meet her daughter.

Renesmee, a half-human, half-immortal child is growing rapidly. Although she is only three days old, she looks like she could be eight months. While Bella was transitioning, her BFF wolf-friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner) imprinted on Renesmee, making his sole purpose in life to protect her. Bella is not happy with the news, and that scene turns out to be one of the best in the film.

The Volturi, (a.k.a. the vampire lawmakers) which include Aro (a flamboyant Michael Sheen), Jane (Dakota Fanning) and Caius (Jamie Campbell Bower) learn of Renesmee and have been told she is an immortal child, a big no-no in the vampire world. The Volturi set off to come after the Cullen clan with a goal to destroy Renesmee and any vamp in their way.

Carlisle (Peter Facinelli) and the rest of the Cullens travel to other vampire packs around the globe, persuading them to come join them in the fight against the Volturi.

The first half of “Part 2’ is slow, a little goofy and has some terrible special effects. You would think for a franchise that has made over $2.5 billion dollars they would be able to fork over some more money towards CGI.

"Twilight" fans knew the baby Renesmee was going to be a huge issue in the film because of her rapid growth, but here’s an idea: use a real baby! If the child’s name isn’t weird enough, the CGI looks even weirder. Before young actress Mackenzie Foy started playing Renesmee nearly halfway through the film, CGI was used to create the facial expressions of Bella and Edward’s child, and it looks absolutely ridiculous. It distracts from the story and the whole time I kept wondering why they just didn’t use a real baby during those scenes.

That isn’t the only problem with the franchise capper. When vampire Bella is running through the forest chasing deer and mountain lions, it looks so cheesy and dumb. People were actually laughing in the theater, and these were hardcore “Twilight” fans.

Where the first hour lacks the fluidity “Part 1” had, director Bill Condon makes up for it in Act II. We are introduced to several new vampires, ones that the Cullens persuaded to come join their side, and these characters are a fresh and fun addition to the franchise.

Stewart has really come into her own as an actress playing Bella Swan for the past four years. I would argue she knows the character just as well as its author, Stephenie Meyer. Stewart easily transitions into stone-cold, honey-eyed vampire Bella and “Part 2” is her best film in the franchise. “Part 1” is both Stewart and Pattinson’s film, but Stewart completely takes over in “Part 2” and leads it beautifully.

Something happens about three-fourths of the way into the movie that tweaks the final installment of the beloved franchise for the better. Fans will know as soon as they see it, heads will surely pop and blood-curdling screams will fill the crowded movie theatres.

“Breaking Dawn - Part 2” certainly has its problems, but Condon makes up for the slow start to the film in the last 20 minutes and it’s safe to say that “Twilight” fans will be blown away.


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