Movie review – Fangs for the memories

2012-11-16 10:20

Natasha Joseph reviews the glitzy and smarmy vampire series that is undeniably far too modern

Film: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 (Nu Metro)
Director: Bill Condon
Featuring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner
Rating: 5/10

There was a time when vampires were dangerous and sexy. They didn’t sparkle when they walked into the sun; they burst into flames. They didn’t get married and father supernaturally gifted children. Vampires did not fight alongside werewolves – or, weirder still, get embroiled in love triangles with werewolves.

But that was before American author Stephenie Meyer dumped a massive tub of glitter over the most hypnotic of all mythical creatures – BT, or Before Twilight.

For those of us who grew up in awe of Bram Stoker’s quintessential Count Dracula (Gary Oldman in one of his finest roles) or trembled, torn between fear and something troublingly like desire as Kiefer Sutherland vamped his way through the role of David in 1987’s The Lost Boys, liking Twilight is the ultimate sin. Meyer’s golden-eyed “vegetarian” vampires, the Cullen clan, will set any fan of the genre’s eyeteeth on edge.

Her Bella Swan, the human being who falls hopelessly, annoyingly in love with the brooding Edward Cullen, is not a great role model for young girls. Instead, she’s a hideous warning. In this, the final instalment of the series, Bella has become a vampire at last.

“I was born to be a vampire,” actress Kristen Stewart intones breathlessly in a voice-over. Really? Some young women dream of being astronauts. Some long to be doctors, or palaeontologists, or possibly reality TV stars.

But Bella, who during the first four movies displayed about as much self-awareness as a three-toed sloth, wanted nothing more than to give her entire self, body and brain, over to Edward.

That sort of thing is guaranteed to make the feminist in your life claw her eyes out.

But by the time Breaking Dawn - Part 2 rolls around, there have been four other movies during which audiences got used to Stewart’s star turn as a pouting doormat.

By now, you’re accustomed to the turgid dialogue, the long, loving looks exchanged by any number of the film’s very many nauseatingly happy immortal couples and at least three shots per film involving a shirtless, glowering Taylor Lautner (who plays Jacob Black, a werewolf).

Now, as the franchise screams to a completely overblown climax, there are some new elements to entertain and delight Twihards – those loyal fans who will pull your fangs out if you criticise their beloved franchise.

These same elements, I fear, will horrify pretty much everyone else, since chief among them is a hint of paedophilia.

Jacob, who has spent the entire franchise lusting wolfishly after Bella, “imprints” (it’s a wolf thing, he assures us) on newborn Renesmee.

Renesmee, apart from having a thoroughly silly name, is the daughter of Edward and Bella.

She is a baby when Jacob “imprints” on her, and although he spends a great deal of time insisting his love for her “isn’t like that”, anyone with half a brain can see Jacob’s waiting desperately for Renesmee to hit legal age.

He’s a lucky wolf though. Renesmee grows up quickly, leaping from newborn to adorable little girl in the space of just a few weeks.
Her unusual nature makes her a target of the creepy Volturi, the police and justice system of the vampire world.

The Volturi are the best thing about this overwrought, terribly acted soap opera of a movie. Michael Sheen is deliciously camp as Aro, one of the chiefs of the Volturi who wields his power with elegant menace.

Dakota Fanning, as Jane, causes people great pain just by looking at them, and her glittering eyes beneath cruelly arching eyebrows are simply hypnotic.

Fanning out-acts the entire cast without uttering a single line in this film, which tells you something about the level of skill required to score a role in a Twilight flick.

The whole thing builds up to a glorious, bloody battle that takes place, for no good reason that I could understand, in the snow.
All of this vitriol, I must confess, belies my true feelings about Twilight.

It’s a terrible series. It’s glitzy and smarmy, and far too modern, and it has created a breed of creatures you wish Buffy the Vampire Slayer would come along and stake.

And yet, it has also been, in parts, exhilarating. It has displayed flashes of humour, and a dash of pathos.

There is something undeniably compelling, for lovers of fantasy, about the notion of a dark, seductive world that exists on the fringes of our own, populated by gorgeous, vapid vampires who would sooner whisk you away to a tropical island than eat you.

If you are a Twilight fan, Breaking Dawn - Part 2 will bring the franchise neatly to a close.

If you can’t stand Twilight, I’d suggest you rent a handful of classic vampire movies, draw the curtains, ignore the hype and bliksem anyone who tells you that real vampires are sparkly.

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