To callously belittle the "Twilight" franchise is to insult thousands of people who have truly invested their hearts and souls into a movie franchise that, in many ways, has had a very real and profound impact on their lives.
So what if Bella Swan served as a poor role model? So what if the actors seemed so uncomfortable on screen you thought they might actually jump off it, run down the aisle and leave the theater? Sometimes, poor role models are the easiest to relate to. They usually have issues, and who among us doesn't? As for the acting: if you have a few days I can tell you all about the movies I love that feature some of the worst performances you'll ever see.
In other words, it's OK to like bad movies. Which brings me to "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2?, a "Twilight" movie that is NOT BAD. Not bad at all!
Well, maybe a little bad.
When we last left Kristen Stewart's Bella Swan, her true love, Edward Cullen, had turned her into a vampire to save her life. Giving birth to their demon child, Renesmee, killed Bella Swan the human but birthed Bella Swan, the vampire. It also, thank god, killed Bella Swan the boring, whiny, lightning rod for monster love and birthed Bella Swan, the kick-ass, lightning-fast, I can-now-beat-Kellan-Lutz-at-arm-wrestling vampire.
When Bella wakes up as a vampire, she's actually waking up for the very first time in her life - or in this case, afterlife. Our heroine quickly discovers she has tremendous strength and speed and incredibly keen senses, especially her ability to smell human blood. Unfortunately, this is when we experience our first of several CGI effects fails in the film. It's Bella and Edward running through the forest as Bella hunts for blood (animal blood, of course) for the very first time. Wow, we are talking serious second-rate, high cholesterol cheese. Awful? Yes, but, sure to please everyone who's blinded by their love for these characters. Besides, Bella's new attitude is so intriguing, we can forgive this kind of neglect.
That is, until Bella meets her half-blood baby, which is a complete CGI bobble-headed freak. Like Kenan Thompson's character on Saturday Night Live would say, "What's up with that?" Even so, it's when Bella meets her baby that she really starts to impress.
See, Bella had no idea that Renesmee is being protected by Jacob following that moment in the last movie when he, as a werewolf, imprinted on Renesmee. I know what you're thinking: "Ewww." However, as Jacob explains to Bella, "It's not what you think." With her new-found strength, Bella slaps Jacob around and gets some laughs in the process.
And with that, we have finally moved on from the bizarre love triangle that was Bella, Edward and Jacob. It's now Edward and Bella forever, while Jacob will devote his life to the half-blood princess. The End. Right!
Renesmee is growing fast; 15 minutes into the movie she's the size of an 8-year-old girl, and of course, this girl has special powers. She can touch your cheek and make you see the truth (a potential presidential debate moderator for 2016?). She can also float in the air. When one of the Cullens' cousins sees Renesmee floating and catching snowflakes, she assumes Edward and Bella have turned a child into a vampire and, according to vampire law, that's illegal. Who knew? So she runs to Italy and tells Aro (Michael Sheen), head of the Volturi, which gives him and all of his delightfully beautiful, creepy underlings something to do - kill the Cullens! By the way, Sheen is so fantastic in this role, it's obvious he enjoys playing it.
I'll stop with the plot details here. Instead, I'm going to tell you that "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2? contains about the best 20 minutes of the entire franchise. It's content so surprising, so thrilling and so shocking that it's completely incongruous with the rest of the franchise and is, quite frankly, did-not-see-that-coming awesome. My jaw literally dropped. Suddenly, the sanitized, teen emo porn that had been the "Twilight" franchise turns into a Robert Rodriguez-inspired climax rich with excitement and an emotional depth previously unseen in these films.
It's not how you start, it's how you finish, and the final moments of the "Twilight" franchise finish very well. Bella, although she had to die and become a vampire to do it, changes for the better and morphs into an admirable metaphor and role model.
Three-and-a-half out of five stars.