The concluding chapter in the 'Twilight Saga' series — this is number five from a series that totals only four books — arrives with a bit more action and excitement than its predecessors, but ultimately finishes with a frustratingly disappointing whimper. In fact, audiences are made to endure four different endings before switching to an atrociously tacky, soap-opera-like closing credits sequence commemorating four years of pure melodrama garbage. It's amazing to see something so juvenile and simplistic celebrated for being just that, with very little, if any at all, worth remembering. Then again, the surprise twist during the climactic battle of the Cullens versus the Volturi still lingers in the back of my mind, but only to make me angry for being such an idiotic, amateur curb ball.
After finally suffering through all five, excessively maudlin chapters of three ridiculously lovelorn kids, I'm convinced the 'Twilight' movies are actually one, big fat joke. And why not. They are far more enjoyable as absurd comedies than as serious pieces of film about supernatural romance. Picking up moments after the conclusion of Part 1, Bella (Kristen Stewart looking as if she hasn't eaten in months) examines the world for the first time with her vampire eyes, watching droplets of water run down the side of a vase. And noticing the way light gleams and sparkles off the dust in the air? And becoming aware of the fiber textures of paper? Is there really nothing else a little more interesting to ponder in the Cullen household? Perhaps, someone should reexamine the script from Melissa Rosenberg or ask why director Bill Condon thinks this is significant.
Whatever the thinking — or the lack thereof — may be, I must admit to being mildly entertained. Not because it's any good, but because the opening minutes are already ridiculously silly. And embarrassingly, it only keeps getting worse when Bella finally bothers to notice her broodingly sulky husband standing nearby, waiting for her immortal resurrection — along with an acting career separate from this histrionic ignominy. The pouty, lachrymose Edward (Robert Pattinson) stands by an open door with fish-like puckered lips pretending to be a smile, the sunlight shining behind him, creating a godly halo effect. But wait, the romantic image is soon undercut when the two go on the hunt together for the first time, whizzing through the forest with uproariously god-awful visual effects, the type you only expect from a television movie. If the cheap, shoddy CG sequence is what qualifies as Bella being a natural for the vampire lifestyle, according to Edward, then we can only imagine what it must be like when she's really sloppy and careless.
And the laughs continue — or should I say, they grow progressively worse — when the newborn is unceremoniously — well, fans are sure to disagree with that sentiment — introduced to both audiences and to the born-again mother. Renesmee (portrayed for a majority of the runtime by Mackenzie Foy) is the product of the two vamps' intimate love and considered a miracle child by all who meet her — of which there several that the movie painstakingly takes the time to acquaint us with, pushing the runtime just shy of the two-hour mark. She's a miracle first because she's impossible (and illogical, unless you are Wesley Snipes) since it would be difficult for the dead to impregnate the living. And secondly, because it's amazing the filmmakers actually thought it a good idea to use a flagrantly obvious CGI baby that combines the facial features of Stewart and Pattinson. I couldn't stop laughing at what an ugly baby the pair would make and the fact that they kept using a blatantly bad CG-rendered child for most of the movie.
Still, if you believe yourself brave enough to weather through this unintentionally hysterical storm of the most ridiculously self-pitying, then you'll discover this frustratingly sappy mess actually comes with a plot. On its most simplistic level, it's a reasonable way of tying together the baby's miracle birth with the whole vampire-on-vampire, werewolf-on-vampire climactic battle — the movie's only saving grace undermined by the dumbest of all cliché twists, the sort thought of as clever by only the worst and most amateur writer. It's also an opportunity for Michael Sheen and Dakota Fanning to finally make an appearance. Unfortunately, the whole misunderstanding could have easily been avoided by a simple text, which goes the same for the movie itself, saving those who see the vampire saga's banal stupidity precisely for what it is from enduring the humiliation of recognizing its existence. On the plus side, this is the final chapter to the Razzie-winning, box-office juggernaut that was the 'Twilight' series. Now, we can finally breathe a collective sigh of relief that it's finally over.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Lionsgate and Summit Home Entertainment bring 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2' to Blu-ray on a Region A locked, BD50 disc with a code for an UltraViolet Digital Copy. With a shiny, lightly-embossed slipcover, the disc is housed inside a blue, eco-vortex keepcase. At startup, viewers can skip over trailers before being greeted by an animated main menu with music in the background.
The finale in the 'Twilight Saga' series comes to a close with a satisfying yet less than thrilling 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode. Considering photography was done by the excellent Guillermo Navarro, I was half expecting something as good as the previous entry, not something slightly lesser.
The biggest offender is the wonky black levels, looking largely full-bodied and deep but almost as often murky and cloudy. Compared the video's best moments, blacks are noticeably weak in several areas, making those scenes appear a bit faded and flat. I could be forgiving to nighttime sequences where it's most obvious, but even a few daylight exteriors suffer from the fluctuation in brightness. Thankfully, shadow details don't fall prey to the problem, maintaining excellent visibility in the darkest portions of the picture.
Along those same lines, the rest of the presentation is actually very pleasing to the eye. Presented in a 2.40:1 window frame, contrast is generally spot-on and stable with crisp, brilliant whites throughout. The overall color palette is somewhat unusual as primaries seem a tad overstated with a strange pearlescent shine to them. It looks good, however, and nicely complemented by warm, energetic secondary hues. Facial complexions are revealing and appear healthy in the living while others are understandably pale by comparison. Definition and resolution are fairly sharp and detailed though not quite as strong as would be expected from a freshly-minted source.
All in all, the high-def transfer is excellent and sure to please fans.
The movie fares better in the audio department with a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that gives the system a nice workout. Although it doesn't generate a wholly convincing environment that's consistent, the 7.1 design does fill the rears with a great variety of subtle ambient effects. The winds lightly blows through the treetops, birds sing in the distance and the whoosh of vampires zipping through the forest echoes all around. Sadly, they also feel artificial and very phony. Action sequences, of course, make the best use of the back speakers, particularly the climactic battle as all sorts of punches, thuds and cries are heard everywhere with excellent directionality.
In the fronts, imaging is wide and very spacious, creating a strong sense of space. Dialogue is clean and crisp in the center while channel separation delivers fluid movement across the screen. Dynamic range is extensive with exceptional fidelity and rich, detailed clarity in the upper frequencies, generating a warm and engaging soundstage. Low bass is responsive with a deep, throaty quality that gives the action and musical score appreciable depth and presence. Overall, it's an entertaining and first-rate lossless mix with a good deal to enjoy.
Unfortunately, the final chapter to the 'Twilight Saga' series, 'Breaking Dawn – Part 2,' actually succeeds at being both the worst of the entire franchise and also the most exciting, action-packed installment. It's made all the more awful by featuring the shoddiest and cheapest looking CGI work we've seen in recent movie history, and finishing the climactic battle sequence with the most amateurish, clichéd plot twist imaginable. But as bad as the movie is, the Blu-ray arrives with a strong high-def transfer and an excellent audio presentation, sure to please long-time fans and the curious alike. Supplements are also a healthy assortment of material revealing every aspect of the production, making the overall package one devoted followers will want but serves as a rental at best for others.