Twilight series finally finds its pulse
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2.
Two and a half stars (out of four)
This is the way The Twilight Saga ends: not with a fang but a snicker.
Breaking Dawn — Part 2, the fifth and concluding chapter of the young vampire romance franchise, manages to find a pulse as it profitably clicks the turnstiles one last time.
It does so not through the drama, which is goofier than ever, but through laughter, some of which is actually intended.
Perhaps to let us know that they get the joke, or to atone for the previous eight hours of relentless earnestness, returning director Bill Condon and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg let their freak flags fly.
So does Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), who awakens from the birthing emergency of Breaking Dawn — Part 1 as a “newborn” vampire, along with blood-red eyes, immense strength and a powerful thirst.
There are no second thoughts about having shucked off her humanity (“I was born to be a vampire”) as Bella proceeds to knock around anybody who gets in her way, including her sad-sack bloodsucker hubby, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson).
He’s unable to stop her, and barely able to guide her, as she snacks on the mountain lion that caught her attention just before she sank her teeth into Bambi.
The CGI is as cheesy as ever, the dialogue still sucks, Bella’s dad Charlie (Billy Burke) is still clueless and the plot moves like a pensioner’s bowels but thankfully — huzzah! — there’s no more brooding Bella.
In fact, she’s a hoot, which gives the film the jolt of entertainment missing from the rest of the saga.
Meanwhile, back at the Cullen ranch, there’s a cradle containing their daughter Renesmee, the half-human, half-vampire child Bella bore after marrying pale Edward in the previous film.
Renesmee is being jealously guarded by wolfman Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), who switches from mooning over Bella to hormonally “imprinting” upon her baby daughter in the most icky plot turn of author Stephenie Meyer’s weird and increasingly disturbing book series narrative.
And while everybody sorts out their feelings about Jacob’s pervy impulses, a more urgent threat looms. The Italy-based Volturi, an ancient vampire cult that enforces all the rules, is getting its nibblers in a twist over Renesmee’s purported status as an illicit “immortal child,” which apparently is as dangerous as giving Bart Simpson a slingshot in a glassware shop.
Led by the campy Aro (Michael Sheen), who looks like he’s auditioning for the lead role in a Michael Jackson tribute show, the Volturi is fixing to come to the Pacific Northwest to administer summary justice to the Cullens and their pals.
Heads are gonna roll — and lawdy, do they ever. There are more decapitations in Breaking Dawn — Part 2 than you’d find in a Barbie doll collection in a boy’s tree fort (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 narrowly escaped R rating).
Parents should take note of this, but even non-Twihards should appreciate the final rumble, the series’ best tussle, between the goods vamps (the Cullens), the bad vamps (the Volturi) and the wolf clan (Jacob’s hairy crew).
Before that, there’s the usual plot larding. The Volturi bide their time as the Cullens travel the globe rounding up vampire “witnesses” to explain to Aro why Renesmee should be allowed to live.
This looks for all the world like a vampire version of The Avengers, because everybody has their own special super power. This includes one guy, whom I can’t remember if he’s good or bad, who emits a noxious odour as if he’s been binging on bean burritos. Like Jumpin’ Jack Flash, he’s a gas, gas, gas.
Adding further hilarity to the witnesses, there’s a pair of punk vampires who actually speak with a Dracula accent. They vant to suck your blood!
And new guy Garrett (Lee Pace) emerges as a funky cat and history buff who has been personally present at every American war, including the Battle of the Little Bighorn, aka Custer’s Last Stand.
“I came this close to biting Custer, but the Indians got him first,” he deadpans.
Maybe you had to be there. But it’s stuff like this that sends Twilight out on a relative high note, and more than a sense of relief for any sane person who has sat through all five episodes — with possibly more to come, as Renesmee (played by Mackenzie Foy in her later years) grows into a rebellious teen (Betty and Veronica, watch out!)
That “forever” tag on the movie posters?
It should read “finally.”
Peter Howell is a syndicated Toronto Star movie critic.