As her cold, dead eyes pop open and flush red with bloodlust, Bella has finally arrived. She's ticked all the boxes on her bucket list. She's fulfilled her fantasy. She's followed her heart. She's dreamt her dreams, and they've all come true.
She's a vampire.
All that angsty human teen love stuff is behind her. And even monumental life moments such as getting married to her vampire lover, having bed-splintering sex for the first time and dying from the pains of a life-sucking childbirth all pale in comparison to this.
She's a vampire.
She can see the pollen on a flower from 40 paces, hear the flapping of a gnat's wings, sense the blood pumping through a deer's veins deep in the nearby forest. And in a blurring whisk she can sprint off to feed from some unsuspecting creature's jugular. It's incredible. She was born for this. If she wasn't already dead, she would die for this.
She's a vampire … mom!
It's only been a few days since her half-human/half-vampire baby's birth and already the bouncing bundle of joy is as big as a 1-year-old. She's the apple of Bella's eye, and she can't wait to get down to the beautiful business of spending eternity with her hunky hubby Edward and her beautiful daughter Renesmee.
Except … vampire children are a big no-no in Bella's new vampire world. And the ruling vampire class Volturi might not even care about that half-human thing. They're out for blood no matter what. Or, they would be if vampires had any of their own. As it is, a few decapitations and bonfire incinerations should take care of the Cullen coven.
Why such anger over a pretty and preternatural toddler? The Volturi remember only too well the vampire children of the past—superpowered kiddos who threw town-demolishing tantrums and never matured or settled down.
So the rule of thumb is, "Kill the undead kids." Or, more accurately, "Kill anything the Volturi don't fully understand, just to be safe."
Welcome to being a vampire, Bella.
Although Bella is consumed with the sensations of her new vampire experience, she's still very committed to those she loves. She tells Edward, "Nobody's ever loved anybody as much as I love you." And in that vein, the film promotes the joy and closeness of marriage while illustrating the strength of a family's bond. In fact, after Edward's sister Alice has a vision about the coming war with the Volturi, she and the whole Cullen clan leap to protect young Renesmee in whatever way they can.
Thanks to family patriarch Carlisle's cool head (both literally and figuratively), the family's initial actions are not aimed at all-out war, but rather a reasoned approach of gathering like-minded vampires to help them peacefully nullify the threat. Even the hotheaded werewolf Jacob and his tribe take a stance of calm peace and cooperation with the vampires while they attempt to protect the young girl.
Edward worries that his love for Bella and subsequent choices endangered everyone. But Carlisle assures him that seeking and finding love is a wonderful thing and that protecting the young girl is important to all of them. He says, "Everyone here has something to fight for."
In a tender moment, Renesmee—who has the power of communicating her thoughts through touch—shares her first moment of awareness with Bella. And it's clear that the baby girl recognized her mother's pain and sacrifice to ensure her birth.
Vampires. Werewolves. Undead "magical" powers. Etcetera.
Bella, Edward and Renesmee spend Christmas morning at Bella's dad's house.
Bella and Edward share their first vampire-on-vampire sexual experience in a lingering scene that features tight camera shots of skin and entwined limbs. We watch Edward rip the back of Bella's dress open as she straddles him. We see glimpses of her bare back and legs.
Afterwards, Bella marvels at the intensity and potentially never-ending vitality of undead lovemaking. "You really were holding back," she tells her husband—in reference to their sexual encounters when she was human. She goes on to worry that she may not want to stop making love for weeks on end. And amidst jokes about vampire couples breaking the furniture, it's noted that Rosalie and Emmett went at it for a decade or so. In a later scene, Edward begins seductively unbuttoning the front of Bella's dress in preparation for a bath.
Bella wears short skirts with high slits that cling closely to her fit form. Other women wear outfits that bare cleavage and/or midriff. Jacob (again) gets into the flesh-baring action too. He decides to reveal his secret werewolf side to Bella's dad and starts by pulling off his shirt and dropping his pants, much to Charlie's discomfort.
Of all the Twilight films, it's reported that this latest had the hardest time avoiding an R rating. And even after trimming some of the scenes, it still pushes hard at the PG-13 boundary with its many death-dealings—especially decapitations.
The Los Angeles Times reports that it was the sound effects accompanying the decapitations that helped push the MPAA to insist on edits before awarding the tamer rating. "Their big note was the accumulated intensity of [the film's critical, final scene]. In the end, there were very specific suggestions about how we pull back on the sound and the crunching of the head being separated from the neck," said director Bill Condon. "And we did that."
He also commented, "Certainly, with any other movie there are a thousand ways to kill people. With this one, it's a variation on the same theme. If they were going to be offended by the idea of beheadings, we would have had no movie."
Indeed. The vicious head-ripping is prominent and repetitious, be it by the steely hand of a fellow vampire or the ravaging jaws of snarling werewolves. Examples: A vampire woman is forced to kneel before a fire where her head is brutally wrenched and twisted until it snaps off. She and her vampire "child" are both thrown into the consuming blaze to burn. A victorious vampire hooks his fingers into the mouth of a fallen foe and tears the upper portion of his skull and jaw away—ripping the flesh of his mouth and neck asunder. A werewolf gnashes into the shoulder and neck of another fallen vampire, rising from the savaging with a skull in its mouth.
In other gruesome moments, a vampire child rises from a pile of dead bodies with blood and gore dripping down his chin. A werewolf is thrown into a tree—its back snapping with the force. A gaping and growing hole is opened in the snowy ground, and vampires and werewolves tumble into the flowing lava below.
A vampire attacks a human in the shadows of an alley—holding him aloft by the neck and then throwing him to the ground and feeding on him. Bella attacks a mountain lion and sinks her fangs into its neck. An angry Bella throws Jacob to-and-fro like a twig. She hits him hard in the face, twice. A climbing human cuts his leg on a rock, bloodying his knee, and Bella has to restrain herself from attacking and devouring him. The Volturi corner a cowering vampire, torture him with a black mist and begin tearing into him in the shadows. In fact, there are numerous instances where the "superpowers" of vampires are unleashed to painful effect. And at least one dies from a magically generated electric shock.
Crude or Profane Language
One use each of "a‑‑," "h‑‑‑," "p‑‑‑" and "frikkin'."
Drug and Alcohol Content
Charlie drinks a can of beer. We see a restaurant patron or two having wine with their dinners.
Other Negative Elements
Stephenie Meyer made a mountain of money after creating a monster-mash series of books devoted to adopting, then twisting the popular myths of vampires and werewolves. The movies based on those books do little more than gleefully stir the cauldron.
The "good girl falls for a bad boy" tale at the core of this story, for example, is nothing new. But when the bad boy in question is a bloodsucking vampire, well, it makes yesteryear's motorcycle teen with a cigarette hanging from his lower lip look passé. And while monster movies have always been about good-vs.-evil battles, Twilight shakes things up with jealous werewolf suitors and tight undead families, shifting the focus from good humans vs. evil creepies to good creepies vs. bad creepies.
All of that has led to this final chapter in which good girl Bella has married her good creepy guy, given birth to a human/creepy child and become a superpowered creepy herself. But it's not time for a ghoulish happily ever after ending quite yet.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 throws one more mash-up into the mix. By focusing on the various mindreading, pain-inducing, energy-projecting, element-controlling powers of its vampiric heroes and villains, it turns a climactic monster war into a superhero showdown. It's as if the X-Men and the Avengers all showed up at the last minute to save the day and make the world a safe place for Bella and Edward's love to blossom and bloom.
Like past entries in the series, there are moments of self-sacrifice and displays of earnest love and parental protection. There's even a strong undergirding theme of facing oncoming problems with calm wisdom and unified strength. But those affirmative lessons can get lost amidst A) all the violent superwar stuff and B) the sensual "I wanna have vampire sex after I die" stuff.
As Bella begins experiencing the life (or, rather, death) of a vampire, she instantly relishes it. "I was born to be a vampire," she gloats after leaping over waterfalls, hearing and seeing the stunning world around her with supersense clarity and enjoying intense—potentially never-ending—sex with her vampire beau. Hers is a life of riches, eternal beauty, power and excitement.
More than anything else, then, this wrap-up pic clearly communicates that being a vampire is pure happiness! And if you have to die to feel the bliss, then so be it.
"My time as a human is over," Bella proclaims. "But I never felt more alive."
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Drama, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Romance
Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan-Cullen; Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen; Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black; Peter Facinelli as Dr. Carlisle Cullen; Elizabeth Reaser as Esme Cullen; Ashley Greene as Alice Cullen; Jackson Rathbone as Jasper Hale; Kellan Lutz as Emmett Cullen; Nikki Reed as Rosalie Hale; Billy Burke as Charlie Swan; Mackenzie Foy as Renesmee; Maggie Grace as Irina; Jamie Campbell Bower as Caius; Christopher Heyerdahl as Marcus; Michael Sheen as Aro; Dakota Fanning as Jane
Bill Condon (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1, Dreamgirls, Kinsey)
November 16, 2012
Bob Hoose Bob Hoose