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(2012) (Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson) (PG-13)

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Action-Romance: The saga of Edward, Bella, and Jacob comes to a close as war erupts among the vampires.
Edward (ROBERT PATTINSON) and Bella (KRISTEN STEWART) are finally joined together as husband-and-wife vampires and parents to little girl Renesmee (MACKENZIE FOY). But Bella is shocked to learn that her friend and former flirtation, Jacob (TYLER LAUTNER) the werewolf, has imprinted upon Renesmee and become her lifelong guardian. She and Edward are also shocked to learn that Irina (MAGGIE GRACE) still has it in for the Cullen family and has told the powerful Volturi coven of ruling vampires under the command of Aro (MICHAEL SHEEN), Jane (DAKOTA FANNING) and Caius (JAMIE CAMPBELL BOWER), that Renesmee is an Immortal capable of killing them all.

The Cullen family gets wind of the Volturi's mission to kill Renesmee and bands together to protect her, Edward, and Bella. Carlisle (PETER FACINELLI) and Esme (ELIZABETH REASER) fan out across the globe to rally other friendly vampires to help. Alice (ASHLEY GREENE) and Jasper (JACKSON RATHBONE) leave to go on a mysterious trip to Brazil. And Emmett (KELLAN LUTZ) and Rosalie (NIKKI REED) stick close and lend their support in case any surprise attacks happen.

Among the vampires they rally are Irina's sisters Tanya (MYANNA BURING) and Kate (CASEY LaBOW); Benjamin (RAMI MALEK), who is capable of manipulating the elements; Garrett (LEE PACE), a wise-cracking bloodsucker who has survived for centuries; and Alistair (JOE ANDERSON), a loner vampire who keeps to himself. Edward and Bella even make it possible for Bella's father, Charlie (BILLY BURKE), to be away on a fishing trip so that his life won't be in jeopardy when the final battle takes place.

OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
As a longtime "Star Wars" fan, I've gotten my share of grief over the years for Ewoks, Jar Jar Binks, and George Lucas' silly dialogue. So, while I have for the most part despised the "Twilight" movies, I have always tried to be respectful of their fan base. Anytime I see large hordes of people, especially young people, really excited about both cinema AND the written word, I think it's cause for celebration on some level.

But that didn't stop me from being, oh, just a little snarky on my way out of the theater after my recent preview. At the end of each screening, you see, there is usually a studio representative waiting in or near the lobby eager to ask reviewers and viewers what they thought of the movie so they can report back to their Hollywood overlords. My first reaction: "Thank God, our long national nightmare is finally over!" Yup, this is the last of the "Twilight" movies. The last of Team Jacob and Team Edward. The last time we'll get a 120-minute movie that features at least 60 minutes of beautiful, dour young people looking at each other while mopey, alt-rock plays in the background. The last time-

Well, you get the picture. OK, yes, that was my first reaction said out of earshot of all the adoring fans pouring out of the theater yelling aloud how much they loved the film. Before getting the heck out of their way and heading to the car, I then added my second reaction to the studio rep: "It was also the best film of the series."

And I mean that. The best thing going for "Breaking Dawn - Part 2" is that the Edward-Bella-Jacob love triangle had been settled in the previous film. So, you didn't have that tedium to deal with anymore. You also have Bella married to her true love, Edward, and finally transformed into a vampire. So, you don't that tedium to deal with either. This film is also plot-driven, too. It involves the villainous Volturi coven of vampires from Italy descending on the Cullens' remote Pacific Northwest town to kill the entire family for harboring Edward and Bella's daughter, who they believe to be an Immortal capable of destroying them all.

The Cullens then have to rally other vampires friendly to their cause and eager to stand up to the Volturi for one final battle royale on a snowy field. And that final battle actually delivers! It's brutal, well-paced, well-photographed, and has loads and loads of good kills. Because, you see, the only way to truly kill a vampire in the "Twilight" world is to completely rip their heads off! Wow! Who knew this series had the stones to deliver violence.

Sure, with hundreds of millions of dollars in their coffers, the CGI werewolves that team up with the Cullens family vampires still look insultingly cartoony (especially in the wake of such stunning CGI animals in the upcoming "Life of Pi"). And since vampires don't have blood coursing through their veins, the decapitations don't result in gushers of glorious Tarantino and Rodriguez-caliber splatter. But whattaya gonna do? This is still for teenager girls first and foremost.

Unfortunately, there is a twist in the final sequence that I have seen done in movies that I always, ALWAYS hate! It was seen most recently in Oliver Stone's "Savages" and I always think that it's just the biggest copout. I won't spoil it for you (at least not here in the Our Take portion). And who knows? Maybe that's how it did play out in the book, too.

At any rate, I haven't come to expect much from these flicks. And with the bar set low, I am legitimately delighted when something like this actually delivers entertainment value beyond what its core fan base has come to pant over. I still think generations to come will look back on these films and scoff at their quality and appeal unlike such timeless series as, say, "Harry Potter." But the climax of this series is tremendously satisfying for those who have come to love these characters and for those who just have to sit through one more. What was it Dr. King said, "Free at last, free at lastů" I rate it a 6 out of 10. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed November 14, 2012 / Posted November 16, 2012

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