It’s finally here! Amidst much fanfare and advance publicity, the final installment in the Twilght Saga
series, Breaking Dawn: Part II
wraps up the story of the Cullen clan of vampires, and thusly, the love story of Bella and Edward. Fans will not be disappointed with the conclusion, especially since a dramatic twist has been added to the ending. So, if you’ve read the book 100 times, there will still be surprises for you.
All of the beloved cast members return: Kristen Stewart (Bella), Robert Pattinson (Edward), Taylor Lautner (Jacob), Peter Facinelli (Carlisle), Elizabeth Reaser (Esmee), Ashley Greene (Alice), Jackson Rathbone (Jasper), Nikki Reed (Rosalie), Kellan Lutz (Emmet), and Billy Burke (Charlie). I’m listing these names just in case you’ve been stranded on a desert island for the past 5 years and don’t know who these now-famous actors are. I’m also assuming that you’ve seen Breaking Dawn: Part I because this film is a continuation of the story in the truest way. They were filmed back-to-back, so production was actually completed in 2010. If you’ve somehow never seen the previous four films, there are still enough references to them in the context of this film so that it will make sense. Actually, I don’t see any of the five installments as stand-alone films, except maybe the first one, Twilight.
Breaking Dawn: Part I ended as newly-wed Bella gave birth to a daughter, conceived with her vampire husband, Edward. The only way to save her life was to make her a vampire also, and the film ends when Bella opens her now-red vampire eyes and begins her new life. Breaking Dawn: Part II begins with that same shot of her vampire eyes in her transformed body. Bella and Edward’s new happiness with their daughter Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy) is short-lived, however, as word of a vampire child mistakenly gets back to the Volturi. The terrible threesome – Aro (Michael Sheen), Caius (Jamie Campbell Bower), and Marcus (Christopher Heyerdahl) – vow to destroy the immortal child and the Cullen clan along with her. Dakota Fanning returns as Jane, along with Cameron Bright as her twin Alec, as the Volturi’s chief weapon. Jane can inflict paralyzing pain with her mind, while Alec can render a victim blind and deaf.
Meanwhile, Bella learns that Jacob has imprinted on Renesmee and will defend her to the death. Jacob finds a way to include Charlie in Bella’s life without endangering him, so all is well for a time. Then, Alice foresees that the Volturi have raised an army of witnesses and, by the first snowfall, will arrive in Forks to “punish” the offenders. Carlisle, hoping to prevent a fight to the death, gathers vampire friends from around the world to witness to the Volturi that Renesmee is not an immortal child, and therefore not a threat. However, if the Volturi will not accept this, the Cullens and the wolf packs vow to fight.
The Denali clan of vampires who share the Cullens’ lifestyle of not killing humans were introduced in Part I: Tanya (MyAnna Buring), Irina (Maggie Grace), Kate (Casey LeBow), Eleazar (Christian Camargo), and Carmen (Mia Maestro). They agree to help the Cullens and try to convince other vampire friends to do the same. In the novel, most of the vamp friends rounded up by the Cullens played a larger part, but in the film, only a few of them do. Lee Pace does a fine job playing Garrett, who’s been around since the American Revolution and loves a good battle against unjust authority. The Egyptian clan – Amun (Omar Metwally), Kebi (Andrea Gabriel), Tia (Angela Sarafyan), and Benjamin (Rami Malek) – get a good bit of screen time. In fact, Benjamin is responsible for some of the more impressive special effects since his character can affect the elements. The Ticuna Indians from the Amazon rainforest, Senna (Tracey Heggins) and Zafrina (Judith Shekoni), peak some interest, as do two Ticunas who appear only in the final scenes – Huilan (Marisa Quinn) and Nahuel (J D Pardo). They prove to be instrumental in the outcome of the story. Also of interest are two millinea-old, spooky-looking Romanian vampires, Stefan (Guri Weinberg) and Vladimir (Noel Fisher). If I’ve left out any of your favorites, I do apologize, but I’m not trying to write a book here!
The main reason for most to see this film, apart from the maniacal fan worship of Pattinson and Lautner, is the phenomenal twist added to the plot. You will be surprised, but if the reaction of the preview audience is any indication, you’ll also be pleased. The production qualities of the film remain high, and the actors are all true to their original interpretations of the beloved characters. Unfortunately, the drama between real-life couple Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson almost overshadowed the excitement about the final chapter of the Saga. The cheating break-up, and possible on-again make-up, between the two generated great sympathy for Pattinson and near-pariah status for Stewart. Sadly, some fans have trouble distinguishing between the actors and their roles. To many, they are Bella and Edward, and separating reality from fantasy remains a difficult task. I wish these actors well in their quest for new roles.