If you’ve not been following the Twilight franchise, Breaking Dawn part 2, the final instalment, is a bad place to start.
Thankfully, the plot is threadbare enough for newcomers to pick up pretty quickly. Here goes: there are a load of vampires with trendy haircuts living in an IKEA showroom in the woods. Two of them have a baby, Renesmee (Renesmee? Seriously?), who has, for no obvious reason, a terrifying computer generated face. It’s probably a vampire thing. There are also some werewolves and one of them has a crush on the new-born baby. Yep, on the baby. The baby’s mother is understandably flipped out but everyone else seems to be fine with it and it’s pretty much forgotten about after five minutes, which is probably for the best. Then some bad vampires, led by the brilliantly camp Michael Sheen, arrive, spoiling for a fight.
Even if you’ve been following the franchise, it’s difficult to tell which bits of arbitrarily applied vampire-lore were introduced in previous iterations and which are just so clumsily inserted you assume they must have been explained at some point. Bella, for instance, is a “shield”, who can project magic that looks a bit like the worm-holes in Donnie Darko. She just can, okay?
The problem, though, isn’t the premise – the problem is how utterly it believes in its own grandiosity. Everyone apart from Michael Sheen remains steadfastly po-faced as they reel off toe-curlingly clunky lines. Every so often director Bill Condon offers a hint that he’s in on the joke but for the most part this is pure, condensed teen angst.
Robert Pattinson has surprisingly little to do except glower moodily from under a permanently furrowed brow. Both he and Stewart have the ability to work at a far higher level (for example Cosmopolis and On the Road, respectively).
The rest of the movie is made up of a series of disjointed set pieces crowned by a big fight that, while derivative of every superhero movie from the last decade, is at least sweet relief from the lead-heavy dialogue.
Breaking Dawn part 2 is both bloated and dull, gaudy and flat. It’s a vampire movie without bite, and that is unforgivable.
First published in City A.M.