Friday, November 16, 2012

Review: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2

The new Twilight movie is the opposite of the old ones. Meaning it's actually good. Sure, there are millions upon millions of people who will tell you all of the Twilight movies were not only good but so mind-blowingly awesome that they inspire the need to shriek with glee at the opening credits. But those are the people with the superhuman ability to not only endure boring, ridiculous things, but somehow appreciate the qualities that are hidden to nonbelievers.

This is the Twilight that bridges the two camps, which is as impressive a feat as getting Romney voters to affix I Heart Obamacare bumperstickers to their pick-up trucks, or Red Sox fans to wear pinstripes.

Director Bill Condon accomplishes this feat of wonder by using the cinematic technique known as Making Everything Opposite From Before.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 sprays a fire hose of sulfuric acid on all the annoyances from the first four movies. Instead of fragile courtships and unfulfilled longing between a 100-something-year-old undead demonbeast stalker and a sullen teenage girl who's all about that kind of thing, you get rock'n vampire-on-vampire sex.

Instead of a poor, put-upon werewolf boy who won't take the hint that object of his obsession is just not that into him, you get an assertive wolfman who exacts sweet revenge on the condescending couple by claiming their Miracle-Gro daughter as his to protect and, uh... I'd rather not know what else.

Instead of brooding vampires who sparkle and play baseball, you get amazing X-Men vampires -- let's call 'em X-Pires -- who shoot electricity and a lethal substance that can only be described as "death smoke' out of their palms, mind-control their friends and enemies alike and rip each other's heads off.

About those vampire heads. They're not so much ripped off as they are popped. Not unlike Legos. The movie made me long for the inevitable Lego Twilight video game, with a level entirely based on comical vampire head-popping.

You'd almost mistake this rock-em-sock-em version of Twilight for The Expendables 3 (X-Pendables 3?) if it didn't have so much Lilith Fair music, or the required narration-quotes that prove that Stephenie Meyer -- while a great storyteller -- is a supbar dialogue writer.

"Even though I was no longer human, I'd never felt more alive," or something close to that, Bella (Kristen Stewart) muses, making me realize that even though I am not hovering above a toilet, I'd never felt more of a need to puke.

But there is far more great than awful here. Starting with Bella.

Now that she's fully transformed into a vampire, Bella is free to drop her quiver, stare-at-the-ground and roll-eyes act to show some attitude. She wrestles mountain lions, leaps off mountains and emits a magic cloud-shield that can block the attack of any other X-Pire. She conjures Lilith-fair-music-backed montages of past Twilight romance scenes, as if to mock their inadequacy. Now THIS is a Bella worthy of having a vampire and werewolf fighting over.

And man, is there some great fighting in this movie. The slim story exists to put together a fang-baring rumble in the middle of a meadow, pitting good X-Pires from most ethnic group against evil, hooded Italian X-Pires. It's a 20-minute throw-down that would rival any prison riot, complete with gnashing werewolf teeth, X-Pire head popping and the very crust of the earth cracking, as if even the ground we walk on is impressed enough to unleash a broad, appreciative smile.

I wouldn't say this good Twilight is so good it makes it worth suffering through four awful ones worthwhile, but it's most rewarding to those who endured all the pain of the past four years in order to taste the sweet, sweet nectar of an X-Pire prison fight.

Finally, there is something we can all agree on: Twilight is awesome. Trust me, I'm shrieking on the inside.

Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner and Ashley Greene. Written by Melissa Rosenberg, adapted from the Stephenie Meyer novel. Directed by Bill Condon. Rated PG-13. 115 minutes.

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