Breaking Dawn, Part 2 is the fifth and final movie of Mormon novelist Stephenie Meyer’s phenomenally popular Twilight Saga. I think that the Twilight Saga is highly significant, because it offers a systematic argument for traditional — and biological — sexual roles and morality in the form of a Gothic teen romance story involving vampires and werewolves. (I best summarize my take on the Twilight Saga in my review of Breaking Dawn, Part 1.) I also found the movies highly entertaining.
Breaking Dawn, Part 2, however, is a major disappointment. The movie does not betray or ruin the series, mind you. It is just largely empty and unnecessary. Nor does it contain any positive, traditional messages. It is mostly just an action movie.
I read the first Twilight novel to see if the film version had replaced white characters with non-white ones, and it did. I also learned that Stephenie Meyer may be a genius at cultural subversion and quite clever at constructing characters and plots, but she is an excruciatingly bad writer. The bones of her well-constructed plots are padded with layers of literary lard and cellulite—smothering seas of jiggling, gelatinous, blowsy, bloated, swollen, soggy, premenstrual prose. And the second novel, New Moon, was even worse, so I never read beyond it.
Meyer’s novels made me appreciate the talents of screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg at flensing and rendering these blubbery books down to lean, sinewy scripts. But when the first three movie made more than two billion dollars, the producers hefted Breaking Dawn, the fattest of the four novels by far, and—cha-ching!—decided to make two movies out of it, which entailed leaving in a lot of flab. Frankly, if greed had not won out, this story could have been told in a single, two hour movie, and practically everything in the second film could have been left out.
In Part 1, Bella Swan marries her vampire love Edward Cullen. Edward insists that he will make her a vampire only after their wedding. But before her transformation, Bella becomes pregnant, which comes as a shock, because nobody knew it was possible for a vampire to sire a child. The pregnancy endangers Bella’s life, but she refuses to have an abortion. Once the baby is born, Edward transforms Bella into a vampire to prevent her from dying from childbirth.
In Part 2, Bella and Edward deal with telling Bella’s family and the undead community about their special child, before they settle down for eternal happiness. A lot of the story is surprisingly lame, and the rest could have been told in 20 minutes. Much of the movie is devoted to preparing for a battle in which the Cullens and their allies (the local werewolves and vampires from around the globe) confront the Volturi, their Italian-based elder kindred. This battle is based on a misunderstanding and never even happens in the end (a giant emotional cheat and failure of the author’s moral nerve). But it involves the introduction of a vast cast of forgettable paper-thin bit characters (many of them non-white), only to dismiss them later.
Part 2 also contains some distasteful race-mixing. Sure, Bella had a thing for Jacob Black, a local American Indian, but she ended up with a man of her own race. Now Bella’s dad has taken up with a local squaw, and it is suggested that Jacob may end up with Bella’s daughter.
Just as Star Wars fans have effectively excised The Phantom Menace from the canon, I suggest dropping Breaking Dawn, Part 2. If you haven’t seen it yet, just pretend that the Twilight Saga ends with Breaking Dawn, Part 1.