You know that any artistic endeavour has reached heights of inconceivable popularity when the religious nutjobs start foaming at the mouth. So you didn’t need to be camped out in a mile-long queue at the weekend for a midnight screening to know that Twilight has earned a special place in popular culture. You just needed to read the news.
There you would have learned that certain American pastors have been warning their flocks to beware of these Twilight films, that they’re a fierce bad influence on the youngsters, some of whom have been inspired to indulge in a bit of vampirism themselves, sucking each other’s blood for kicks.
This is dangerous stuff, they say, clearly of the devil. Any parent who willingly exposes their susceptible teenagers to this sorcery is in danger of the fires of hell.
Which suggests a pretty bleak future for some of my friends. (My daughter has seen all the films and read all the books but it was absolutely against my will. So I think I’m OK.)
It’s a reminder of the 1980s, when these same religious folks were issuing dark warnings about the dangers of rock music, where Satan’s emissaries had hit upon the clever idea of putting backward messages in song lyrics, all the better to fool the fans into selling their souls.
Of course, the comparison doesn’t really hold up. Because a soap opera like Twilight doesn’t quite have the same edge as, say, a Black Sabbath record. The only thing Twilight has in common with rock‘n’roll, is that many of its leading characters are technically dead. Anyone who can upset the more excitable boys in the pulpit will, at least, have my grudging respect.
Breaking Dawn Part 2 is the fifth and final instalment of the series, a time of great sadness for the fans, no doubt and their mothers too, who clearly are willing to risk eternal damnation for a glimpse of that werewolf torso.
It picks up where Part 1 left off. Bella (Stewart) has given birth to a daughter and her bag o’laughs husband, Edward (Pattinson), has finally turned her into a vampire, to save her life in the trauma.
The girl has been christened Renesmee, though no parish priest could be found for the job. I grieve in advance for the poor misfortunate children who will bear this name in the future.
Recovered after the ordeal of birthing a half-human, half-vampire monster – and a lovely little monster she is – Bella gets in a bit of training, getting to grips with her new vampire powers and urges and learning a trick or two on how to disguise her nature.
She has her first taste of blood in the woods and Edward has to teach her to control the desire for the human variety.
Meanwhile, Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy) is growing up fast, the old vampire genes aided by some strange special effects. In a weird turn of events, we learn that she’s been “imprinted” by Jacob The Shirtless (Lautner). By this old werewolf rite, the little kid is destined to become his lover. Disturbing stuff, though perhaps no more creepy than the fact that this whole thing began when a 17-year-old girl fell for a 107-year-old man. Maybe those preachers had a point after all.
The child has attracted attention elsewhere, too. The Volturi – the governing masters of the vampire world – have learned of her existence, and are not a bit happy. They believe that Renesmee is an “immortal child”, a vampire who grows up with the mental capacity of an infant, unable to control her appetites, and likely to expose her family secrets. She’s a threat to the vampire world and she’ll have to go.
Being her loving parents and all, Edward and Bella are having none of it, so they recruit an international posse of vampires – the Irish variety included – and make a final stand in a snowy field.
There’s really not much point describing how ridiculous the film is, how bad it is in almost every way – from the dour acting to the lousy visuals. The big problem with this and the four films before it, is that there is almost nothing you can do with a story this stupid.
When Stephanie Meyer’s infantile writing is the starting point, well, where are you going to go? Indeed, if I could add to the pulpit rantings, I would suggest that the most dangerous thing about the Twilight series is that it has convinced millions of teenagers that Stephanie Meyer is a writer. In that kind of alternate reality, can you blame them if they start to believe that they can be vampires too?
The one highlight here is the excellent Michael Sheen, who has a great time hamming it up as the robed Volturi leader, Aro. It’s great stuff, though not nearly enough reason to subject yourself to the rest of it.
If you do insist on going, keep in mind that there are several scenes here that might not be suitable for the young ones. Apart from the very real risk that they may die of boredom, there’s the fact the Bella is a tad friskier than she used to be and there’s any number of decapitated heads flying around.
On a positive note, there won’t be any more of this silliness. And the preachers everywhere said, Amen.