The fifth and final part in the hugely successful Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (2012), was placed in the hands of director Bill Condon, who had also previously delivered the first half of the Breaking Dawn two-parter. Breaking Dawn – Part 2 opens with Kristen Stewart’s Bella Swan now a ‘newborn’ vampire, happily wed to her high school sweetheart, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). Bella has become a red-eyed, alabaster-skinned killing machine, her thirst for blood quenched with animal vital fluids rather than human ones. Yet, as the pair devour mountain lion rather than local ne’er do well, they’re not exactly being eco-friendly.
Bella has a newborn of her own: the ridiculously named Renesmée (Mackenzie Foy). Half-human, half-vampire, Bella’s daughter is soon the focus of much vampiric attention. The honourable Cullens – Edward’s adopted family – want to protect Renesmée from the dreaded, Vatican-esque Volturi, led by Michael Sheen’s Aro (again, a blockbuster American production uses a British character actor to play the baddie, which seems a lazy option). Furthermore, the Volturi believe the youngster to be an ‘Immortal Child’ – an uncontrollable, villager-eating force of evil that needs her head ripping off and thrown into the flames.
The ensuing narrative of Breaking Dawn – Part 2 travels the world seeking out vampires on both sides in readiness for the final battle between the opposing vampire factions. But has Condon finally earned his blockbuster status with such a globe-trotting finale to a megabucks movie franchise? The answer, sadly, appears to be “no” – but the material on-hand is at least partly to blame. There simply isn’t enough tangible peril to keep things ticking along. Twilight’s vampires don’t (regularly) drink human blood, can go out in broad daylight and even go to school. What’s more, Bella and Edward are among a handful of American teenagers never to have had sex before marriage. Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Gary Oldman and Louis Jourdan – watch and weep.
Importantly, if vampires pose no overt threat to humanity, then there is no fear, suspense or chill factor to proceedings. Even John Landis’ Michael Jackson’s Thriller video was scarier. Condon’s Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is compounded further still by Stewart’s mumbling, monotone lead performance. Why a 120-year-old vampire would fancy her, let alone choose to spend eternity with the woman is a mystery. Over the last few years, Twilight series writer Stephenie Meyer has moulded her vamp love story into the most conservative of didactics – that, even for vampires, family means everything, and you sometimes must fight to protect it. Unfortunately, this is one departing movie franchise not worth coming to blows over.