Friday, November 16, 2012

Fun Friday: (Spoiler-free) review of "Breaking Dawn Part 2"

I'm taking a break today from my usual Q&A to do something a little different, okay, maybe a little bit wacky, but it won't surprise anyone who really knows me. First of all, I love movies. No, not love. I LOVE movies with all caps and < 3 symbols and anything else you can toss in there. I go all the time. It's neck and neck with reading for my favorite past-time. Second, (takes deep breath and steels nerves), I'm a Twi-hard. Yep. One of "those people." And today is a bittersweet day for me as "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2" opens in theaters and closes the book on this movie franchise...or does it?

I'll get to my review of "Breaking Dawn Part 2" in a few. First, let me reminisce a little. Shut up. It's my blog. I can do what I want.

Four years ago, I walked into a movie I had heard started as a YA book (which my then-teenage niece's BFF had already told me I had to read because it was soooooo good) without knowing anything about it except it had Kristen Stewart in it and I thought she was a good up-and-coming young indie actress. And one of my good friends had already seen it...seen it again...seen it again...and was going back to see it AGAIN that weekend — all within its first week of opening. I walked out of the movie theater a fan, cheesy camera angles and over-dramatic angst and all. So I read the book. I read all four books within a month. I don't know how it happened, but suddenly I was among a legion of fans being called Twi-hards. I even went to a Twilight convention with my niece where I met Ashley Greene (Alice), Kellan Lutz (Emmett), Peter Facinelli (Carlisle) and Billy Burke (Charlie) and a bunch of minor players too. I've been to every midnight opening since "New Moon." Bought the t-shirts, magazines and even have a mini Edward poster hanging in my cubicle at work. Me, a 30-something woman with no kids. Yes, I know. Embarrassing.

I've gone from being the "cool aunt who likes Twilight" to being "that lame aunt who still likes Twilight." Weathered the Harry Potter-Twilight battles online. Been ridiculed by my best friend who just doesn't get it. I can relate to everything author Jeffe Kennedy wrote in a blog post earlier this year about why she hates to admit she likes that book — and it's not for the reasons you'd think. Preach, Jeffe. Preach!

Through it all, I continued to wave my freak flag proud and say, yes, I am and probably always will be a Twi-hard.

Which brings me to my review of the last movie in this series.

I was fortunate to get a press invite to a preview screening for Wednesday before it came out in theaters. Oh, yes, I was beside myself. Pretending professionalism that day was difficult for me. "Breaking Dawn" was probably my favorite book in the entire series because it was full of all kinds of weirdness, and weirdness is my forte. Half-vampire babies. An excess of vampire clans with superhero-like powers. I ate it up, even when many fans said, whoa, even that stuff is too weird for me.

"Breaking Dawn Part 2" picks up where "Breaking Dawn Part 1" leaves off. Bella opens her eyes and is a vampire. No shocker there for fans of the book. And really, the rest of the story is surprisingly faithful to the source material. Director Bill Condon did a great job in that regard and is probably my favorite director of this series by far. The Voltorri learns of Renesme's existence, mistakes her for an immortal child, and head for Forks to destroy the entire Cullen clan. Carlisle calls upon his many vampire friends to come and witness the confrontation in hopes it will cause The Voltorri to hear them out.

What I liked most about this movie was that it intentionally seemed to poke fun at itself more than once, and the rabid fans I saw it with were amused by that. Kristen Stewart — and I know a lot of people don’t like the girl, especially now — does her best job in this one by far. She actually smiles. She kicks ass as a vampire, y’all. She really does. I hope fans will at least give her props for that.

The cons: The special effects have not improved. Despite billions in profit, the filmmakers skimped on special effects again, and yes, even I groaned — a lot — in this one. Especially with the baby. You’d think they would have just used a real baby, but nope, Renesme was a creepy CGI-robot-baby-real-baby hybrid. C-R-E-E-P-Y. I could hardly stand to look at her in some scenes.

And finally, let’s talk about the “shocking” ending the cast has hinted at for weeks. Yes, it has been changed from the book. Yes, I was in complete and utter shock when I saw it. And not in a good way either. I was sitting there thinking, "I did NOT expect them to go there. At all. Ever. Wow!" But it was a genius move (in my opinion) because no one in the theater I saw it with — all fans, I'm sure — expected that ending if the loud reaction was any indication. I won’t tell you what happens — sorry if you’ve already heard what it is, because seriously, being surprised by a Twilight movie like I was in those moments is a bit of a novelty, I will admit.

Can I give a quick shout-out to Bill Condon who gave us some amazing closing credits that caused this fan to tear up as he paid tribute to the book by overlaying pages and passages from it over the credits and scenes from the movies — all five of them.

Is this the best Twilight movie? I think it might be, but I'm weird, so you'll have to see it and make your own decision. I’m still partial to the first one, as cheesy as it might sound. The first one started it all for me.

I’ll miss you Twilight. But I won’t miss the ridicule I get from haters who don’t respect that everyone has their something. Twilight just happens to be mine.

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