Friday, November 16, 2012

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 [2012]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-III)  Roger Ebert (2 1/2 Stars)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB review
Roger Ebert's review

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (directed by Bill Condon, screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg based on the Twilight novels by Stephenie Meyer [IMDb]) closes this cinematic telling of the saga.   How does it do?  Well from the sound of the packed audience of viewers that I saw the film with on the night that it opened, it did quite well.

In terms of fireworks, I do think the close of the Harry Potter series (which also split the last book into two films) was certainly more dramatic.  But then it would seem to me that The Twilight Saga was _always_ about a "different kind of drama" than the Harry Potter series was.  Harry Potter was largely about a titanic struggle between good and evil taking place on a parallel supernatural plane where the lowly Harry Potter was going to have a key/dramatic role.

The Twilight Saga was always about a simple teenage girl growing-up/coming into her own/making friends/making her own community in the backwoods of often dreary and certainly rainy/snowy Washington State.  Yes, she discovered a truly _fantastic_ richness (_both_ werewolves and vampires, and even entire cultures/histories supporting them, who would have guessed? ;-) in her seemingly "humble surroundings."  But _none of the main characters_ -- from Bella Swan (played by Kristen Stewart) who starts off as an awkward/klutzy teenager from a small town in the middle of, if not nowhere, than utter "nondescript average-ville" (yes, in the "backwoods" of Washington), to Edward (played by Robert Pattinson) the equally socially awkward vampire from the "Cullen clan" who she falls in love with, to the more jockish Jacob Black (played by Taylor Lautner) descendant of a "shape shifting" Indian tribe that's "always lived in those woods" but again is ultimately nothing to brag about (he's destined to "howl at the moon" like his ancestors always did, knowing the same rocks, same woods, same lakes, same streams as they did as well) -- none of these people was in any world/history altering way "special."  Yes they all had (or came to have) "gifts" / special abilities.  But none of them were known outside their group, and indeed, for various reasons their "gifts" / "special abilities" _had to be hidden_ from the larger world/society.  If Harry Potter was about magic on a _grand scale_, the Twilight Saga was about finding "magic' / "specialness" on a small scale, in those "backwoods" of every day, otherwise _nothing to brag about_, "life." 

So the ending episode, which is largely about Renesmee (played by Mackenzie Foy), Bella and Edward's child (hence "half-human / half-vampire"), while "dramatic" remains so _only_ within Bella / Edward's circle of family and friends.  The humans in the area, including Bella's father, the small town cop, Charlie Swan (played by Billy Burke), don't even know that Renesmee is "half human / half vampire," and the Edward's vampire millieu (that has had to live in the shadows for centuries) comes to understand that this new child _isn't_ going to cause them problems after all.  The story ends up having (arguably / thankfully) _less drama_ than the 1967 film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner where for the first time in a Hollywood film a young white woman (played by Katherine Houghton) brings a young black man (played by Sidney Poitier) home to meet her parents (played by Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn).  It would seem, (I hope) that we've made a good deal of progress in this area (even in "the backwoods") since that time.

So honestly my hat off to writer Stephanie Meyer and then the cast and crew of the Twilight series.  You've created and presented a story that's both "Great" and at times "dramatic" and yet whose characters always remain (like most of us) "small."

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