What a shame the security staff confiscated the cellphones at Wednesday night’s preview screening of the fifth and final Twilight movie. There were many totally text-worthy moments in this last instalment of the supernatural soap opera (OMGs, LOLs and a few WTFs) for the mostly young and female crowd to annotate and celebrate, as director Bill Condon brought the hugely successful ($2.5-billion worldwide so far) teen vampire romance series to a giddy climax.
Non-spoiler alert: The movie culminates in a battle scene involving sneering vampires and snarling werewolves, as every Twilight movie does, though this final clash is a lollapadoozie. The battlefield on a snowy, mountainous British Columbia plateau (standing in for the U.S Pacific Northwest), provides English thespian Michael Sheen as Aro, the head of the Italian vampire Volturi clan, with acres of virgin scenery to chew as he simpers, coos and, at one point, actually squeals with diabolical glee. The warring creatures in their lush pelts and druidish hoodies battle at warp-speed, with decapitations as neat as snapping off bottle caps. Bloodshed is minimal, though there’s a lot of painfully intense glaring through the thickly mascara’d eyes of Dakota Fanning as the no-fun Volturi guard, Jane.
That’s not to say that the Twilight finale is triumphant. It takes Condon an eternity or two to get around to the fun stuff. As he demonstrated in the simultaneously shot Twilight Breaking Dawn – Part 1, he has an awful habit of putting his characters into awkward groupings, like models in a discount-catalogue fashion shoot. There are too many of these scenes in the movie’s first hour, where Bella (Kristen Stewart), a new mom and a new vampire, stands with the rest of husband Edward Cullen’s extended coven in their modernist, glass-and-wood forest abode.
Luckily, Twilight author Stephenie Meyer has provided thickets of plot to hew through, and soon things warm up. Having given birth to her new baby girl, Renesmee (ouch), and having been recently “turned” into a vampire, the Sphinx-like Stewart turns beamish with delight as Bella discovers her new powers. She can toss the muscular Jacob (Taylor Lautner) around and hear so acutely that every insect scratch roars in her ears.
Before Bella meets her new daughter, Edward (Robert Pattinson) suggests she needs to get “your thirst under control,” so the couple race at bullet-speed through the woods, where Bella enjoys some mountain lion au jus as her first vampire meal. And the sex! Unlike the honeymoon of Breaking Dawn – Part 1, we’re spared the scenes of destroyed furniture, but in a moment of intra-coital bliss Bella gloats about how amazing it is to be indefatigable, immortal and hot, even if, technically, your temperature is a few degrees below healthy. “I was born to be a vampire,” she purrs.
As usual, Stewart and Pattinson look sculpturally gorgeous, though their now-shared spray-on pallor creates a Kabuki-like emotional distance. (As in previous Twilight films, CGI and special effects are subpar: The attempt to show Renesmee’s rapid growth by grafting an older girl’s face onto the baby’s body is particularly wonky.) Lautner’s Jacob, Twilight’s source of animal heat, gets short-shrift here, reduced to babysitting duties, a few wolfish snarls and one requisite shirtless scene.
Bella and Edward’s immortal bliss proves fleeting. When outcast vampire Irina (Maggie Grace) sees Renesmee flying about catching snowflakes, she reports back to Volturi HQ in Italy, where the ruling vampire aristocrats once again are standing in under-furnished rooms waiting for something to break the immortal monotony. The Volturi, who are apparently dumber than they let on, assume that Renesmee is an illegal “immortal child,” who must be exterminated before her youthful lack of self-control exposes vampires’ existence to humans. Several dozen Volturi head out to Forks, Wash., for a showdown, dawdling just long enough time for Edward and his clan to collect an international gang of Amazonian, Russian, Irish and other sympathetic vampire “witnesses.” The ally vampires are summoned to testify that the child is something new, half-mortal, half-vampire (and as played by 11-year-old Mackenzie Foy, all cute). And, in a pinch, to fight for her right to live.
As much as it hurts the ears to admit it, we’ve probably not heard the last of Renesmee. The Twilight film series, now slightly more than 10 hours of it, has its own awful, fascinating momentum. What was originally a ponderous allegory of young lust and restraint has evolved into a viral system of retro-Romantic erotic iconography, with snowy mountain peaks, a brooding Byronic hero and his virginal lover. For now, it’s The End, with the understanding that Bella/Edward is 4evr.