For the first time in many months, I had an experience at the cinema that honestly moved me, that made my heart do a little back flip and turn to mush. Two characters onscreen — one a monster, one a human — captured in a brief snatch of time the transformative power of love, and it’s ability to heat even the cold hearts of the undead.
Of course, that was the trailer for Warm Bodies that preceded Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2. It looks so good, people.
As for Breaking Dawn Part 2? That movie was crap. An unrelenting assault of vacuous, stubbornly anti-sapient hormonal porn for middle-aged moms. It says a lot about the franchise that over the course of four years of Twilight screenings, the demographic makeup of the audience has shifted from squealing high-school girls crushing on chiseled Teen Beat dreamboats to to sketchy soccer moms drooling over glistening hard-abbed boy-meat. Most of the original teenage audience has grown up, exited their Twilight phase, and gone to college, leaving their tattered Edward Cullen posters hanging on their walls; it’s their mothers, who might have gotten into Twilight as a way to connect to their daughters, that are suspended in a state of cross-legged arrested development. They get older, but Jacob Black’s abs stay the same.
The franchise itself has been achingly paced from the beginning; eight hours of screen time could’ve been reduced to an hour and a half if only they’d stripped the franchise of the hung-mouth stares and confessions of devotion that read like the scribblings on the back of a love-sick brain-damaged 12-year-old girl’s notebook. Indeed, the very first line in Breaking Dawn Part 2, after Bella wakes up from her human-to-vampire transformation, is “You’re so beautiful,” delivered by Edward with all the enthusiasm of an Aspergian asthmatic rehearsing pick-up lines in front of a mirror.
Part 2 picks up just as Bella is crawling out from her vampire chrysalis. Her eyes are bright red, and her face is a little more alabaster, but she is otherwise the same Bella, carrying around her perpetually bored expression, as though she’s sniffing farts and remains unimpressed with their aroma. After frolicking through the woods like a meth-addled Forrest Gump in a race to blow out the spring’s first dandelions, snarling unconvincingly at humans and sucking blood out of the hickey-holes of the wildlife, Bella is disturbed to find that Jacob — who suddenly smells to her like a wet dog swimming in sour milk — is weirdly protective of her newborn daughter, a CGI-creation that appears to be the Goth version of the E*Trade baby.
Turns out, Jacob’s imprinted upon Renesnmee, a “wolf thing” that means he’s biologically required to watch over and protect her until there is grass on the field, at which point he and his lupine manhood plan to play ball. Bella is at first unhappy with the development, but soon learns that it’s beneficial to have free child care from an inbred two-by-four while Edward fucks the last trace of humanity out of her.
There are complications, however. Their daughter, Renesmee, is half human and half vampire, and in a world where vampires are forced to remain in the closet, it’s not good to have a doddering child with a thirst for human blood, a flappy mouth, and no impulse control messing it up for everyone else. Naturally, the Volturi get wind of Renesmee and plan for a showdown with the Cullen clan as soon as the snow falls.
That gives the Cullens — who have joined forces with the Wolves, on account of Jacob’s interspecies crush — to develop their powers. It turns out, they’re not just vampires; they’re like X-Men draculas, and as the Cullens collect allies from across the planet , they hone their abilities to manipulate the elements, bro-tase the enemy with their fingers, read each other’s minds, and — in the case of Bella — develop her shield powers: If Bella concentrates really hard and looks like she’s trying to pass a human head out of her ass, she can defend the Cullens from the wicked powers of those fiendish Volturi scamps.
The entire film, in fact maybe the entire series, is building toward that huge, spectacular showdown where the Cullens and their allies plan to defend Edward’s family “Everyone deserves to fall in love with whomever they want,” Carlisle says, as though campaigning for Washington to become the first state in the Union to allow for Vampire-Human marriage.
However, the biggest problem with Breaking Dawn Part 2, besides the fact that every single second of watching it feels like f*cking a fire ant-hill while someone is yanking out your nose hairs, is that seven-and-a-half hours of excruciating Mormon house-wife porn is all leading toward one spectacular head-ripping melee of cape-wearing, round-house kicking dildos and none of it counts. I won’t spoil it for you, except to say that the only 20 minutes of gleeful, joyous fist-pumping display of vampire-killing in the whole exhausting Quadrilogy doesn’t. f*cking. count. For a blithesome 20 minutes, Michael Sheen showed the Twilight world what it’s like to witness a real actor before the screenwriter kicked us in our apple sacks and threw us back into abyss where Taylor Lautner’s career will go to die. It is one of the most shamelessly cheap, frustratingly terrible endings ever put to film, like having mind-blowing sex only to discover, once the lights have been turned on, that you’ve been buggering your goddamn pillow the whole time.
It’s a fitting end, however, to the Twilight series, which has been nothing but four years of interminable hype building toward crushing disappointment. It’s a banal, brain-dead series, an epically tragic love story with no goddamn tragedy to speak of. The final film, like the series as a whole, is a hollow, soporific experience full of characters who only come to life in the minds of the middle-aged women hours after the movie has ended when they’re lying beneath the Edward and Jacob posters in their daughters’ rooms dying to feel something, anything, but malaise and blighted hope.