There are many challenges associated with wrapping up a franchise with a fanbase large enough to warrant its own quirky name, but The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 delivered on them. Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg was able to stay within the confines set by the established story while at the same time using her creative license to give audiences something they didn’t expect, all without antagonizing fans of the series.
Picking up exactly where Breaking Dawn – Part 1 left off, Part 2 showcases Bella’s (Kristen Stewart) adjustment to vampire life, revealing that both in life and death she possesses unexplainable mental abilities. The only “normal” side effect of this transition we are privy to is her supernatural strength, which exceeds even the strongest Cullen, Emmett (Kellan Lutz). A talent which consistently amuses and humbles her husband, Edward (Robert Pattinson). For the first time in the series we see Bella as more than simply the damsel-in-distress. Using her strong sense of control, she is able to transcend the usual difficulties associated with newborn vampires. She is as natural in her new vampire form as most people are in their human skin. Kristen Stewart, oddly enough, also seems to give her best performance of the series in this form as well.
The Cullen clan is facing off with vampire royalty in the final chapter of the saga. They are accused of breaking the sacred law and creating an immortal child. The Volturi are unaware of the circumstances surrounding the birth of Bella and Edward’s daughter, and since they are already looking for a reason to break up the coven, they do not hesitate to come after them.
Up until this point there has been very little introduction of vampires outside of the Cullen’s immediate world. In New Moon we briefly met the Volturi – Aro (Michael Sheen), Caius (Jaime Campbell Bower), and Marcus (Christopher Heyerdahl) – and a few select members of the guard, including Jane (Dakota Fanning) and her brother Alec (Cameron Bright). In Eclipse we get better acquainted with Volturi enforcers Felix (Daniel Cudmore) and Demetri (Charlie Bewley), and Riley’s (Xavier Samuel) newborns when the Volturi make a calculated move against the Cullens. The acute realization that not only are there vampire scattered around the world, but that there are also a growing sect of ones with extraordinary powers - and therefore highly coveted - gives this final film a boost in differentiating itself within the franchise.
Most of the films in this franchise were forced to play catch-up in terms of background information after the original Twilight film failed to include some important establishing details. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2, along with its predecessor, stands out in several ways, but mainly because they seem to be more influenced by the source material concurrent with their specific book. Contrastingly, New Moon and Eclipse both had to utilize pieces of the first novel to fill in the blanks left by the first film’s negligence. The continuity of the material eventually evened itself out in the concluding film.
The production value in this final film is worthy of commendation, as it’s certainly better than we’ve seen in previous entries. Also worth noting is the ending, which paid homage to all the characters throughout the franchise. It was a touching moment of appreciation that gave fans time to celebrate with the cast and crew before the credits rolled. It’s not hard for me to say that this film outdid the other films in the franchise on several levels. Even though I’m sad to see the franchise end, the final chapter of this story certainly did it justice.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 comes to Blu-Ray in 1080p high definition. Overall, things look pretty good, with the only exception being most of the forest scenes, which seem poorly lit with characters blending into their surroundings. Aside from the occasional softness though, the picture is quite strong. Close-ups are full of detail and skintones look as natural as they can. Clothing details are especially good and black levels remain mostly solid throughout, with only a couple instances coming off as a bit murky. Contrast is spot on and for the most part, the definition is extremely sharp. This is definitely one of the stronger picture transfers that the series has seen.
Dolby 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio brings the film alive with its powerful soundtrack. It’s an agressive and immersive track with crystal clear dialogue and fantastic environmental sounds. A couple of the effects sound a bit phony, but it’s nothing too serious and doesn’t take away from the film. The score comes off wonderfully, with exceptional depth and power and overall, the film’s soundscape is captured very well here.
The film includes the following special features:
- Forever: Filming Breaking Dawn Part 2: a 7-part making-of documentary viewable in both standard and Picture-in-Picture mode
- Two Movies At Once: a short documentary that shows you what it was like to shoot Breaking Dawn – Part 1 and Part 2 at the same time.
- Audio Commentary with director Bill Condon
- “Jump To” features: watch your favorite scenes
- Music Video: “The Forgotten” by Green Day
- Digital Copy
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
Though much of this is filler, The Two Movies at Once featurette was a compelling look at the challenges the production faced filming the last 2 films of the franchise. The biggest feature here, the 7 part making of, was a lackadaisical effort at best. It surely didn’t give fans everything they can ask for. The 7 part-doc was a copy-cat effort of what was released on the Part 1 Blu-Ray and was not comprehensive of the entire series, which I would have liked to see attached to the final film.
It may be an unpopular side to take, but I think The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is wildly entertaining. The franchise itself had its issues from the start, with the undertaking of Twilight being the weakest link in the series, but this film more than made up for any previous defecits in both screenplay and production value. Bill Condon brought his considerable talent to the helm of this project and ended the franchise in tremendous style – a conclusion that I believe most fans will be able to walk away from satisfied.
This review is based on a copy of the Blu-Ray that we received for reviewing purposes.