So, it's 1 o'clock in the morning, and I just got home from the opening night 10pm showing of Breaking Dawn Part 2 and if it gives you any sense of how good it was, I just HAD to start writing this blog rightfreakingnow instead of going to bed like any sane person who has to go to work at 7:30 the next morning.
It was THAT good. And I mean that absolutely sincerely, with no snark at all.
Well, okay, maybe a little snark. I should preface this by sharing my thoughts on the corresponding part of the book: in a word, it's ANTICLIMACTIC: Bella wakes up a super cool vampire. She has super strength as well as this weird "super power" of being a mental shield (that's why Edward can't read her mind). She has no problems adjusting to her new vampire life - not even any accidental murders. Her freakish mutant baby ends up being super cool. Her new life is super cool - until they all find out that they might all die. The Volturi are coming to kill them for vampiring a child, but then of course, when they get there, they find out the kid is not a vampire. Long story short - they realize they won't win, and THEY GO HOME. Like, NOTHING EVEN HAPPENS. The only "casualty" in the book is when Bella accidentally breaks Seth's bones when he jumps in front of Jacob to protect him from Angry Bella. It's pretty much happily ever after.
As I said in my status update ^ I was expecting to be a bit bored and to roll my eyes at the ridiculousness of how perfect and easy everything ends up being. The only things I was excited about were 1) seeing Bella get to kick some ass and be EXCITED for once, instead of being all mopey and pained all the time, and 2) seeing all the various vampires visiting from around the world.
So... it pretty much sticks close to the book. After a very television-like opening title sequence (during which the crowd SCREAMED at Rob Pattinson's and Taylor Lautner's names, but kind of awkwardly woo-ed at Kristen Stewart's), the movie begins literally right where Part 1 ended - with Vampire Bella opening her freakish red eyes. Immediately they dart around taking in EVERY single detail of the world around her, and I was really impressed by the Vampire Vision Lens - you really got to see what it was like. Not only did she see a painting on the wall, but she saw the minute difference in height of the paint on top of the paper's surface, as well as the microscopic fibers that interlock together to form that paper. When she goes hunting with Edward for the first time, we are treated to a fun-though-corny sequence of Bella running through the forest at super speed and all the things she sees, big and small.
I really enjoyed seeing Vamp Bella. In most of the movies, you don't really get the feeling that Kristen Stewart has had to flex her acting muscles all that much. (And fyi, I do actually think she's a good actress - I just don't think that Bella really gives her all that much to work with.) So far, Bella has been mopey and obsessive and just very, very bland. (I'm sure you could google any number of blogs about Twilight and reader proxy.) And even when I read the last part of Breaking Dawn, I'm still not super-impressed with Bella because she's STILL all, "I can't believe this is my life! I can't believe this godlike man belongs to me!"and it gets kind of tiresome. Vamp Bella in the movie is feral and fierce. In the aforementioned running-through-the-forest scene, she looks euphoric, even. When she catches the scent of the rock climber while she's hunting, she starts SCURRYING up the mountainside, and it was just kind of awesome!! She (well, both Bella AND Kristen Stewart, I suppose) is the most active I've ever seen her in this last movie, after spending most of the series being a rather passive figure. And it's really refreshing.
I'd also like to take this time to commend Kristen Stewart for her acting in this movie. Maybe it was just me, but I felt like she did a really good job at creating subtle differences between Vamp Bella and Human Bella, and I thought this was the most evident during the scene when she sees her dad Charlie again for the first time since changing. There was something about her posture and her mannerisms that was just eerie and off-putting, the way that Charlie would see it. Because she really IS a different Bella now, but she is a different Bella trying her best to act like the same Bella... kudos to Kristen Stewart. I thought that was great.
(Can I also say that, during the scene when Jacob "comes out" to Charlie, they spent an EXTRA long time showing him undressing, and I can't help but think that they were trying to make up for the ONE QUICK shot of him with his shirt off in the first movie. It's like Bill Condon was saying, "Okay, ladies, I hope you're done being mad at me now.")
Something that took me out of the movie a lot was CGI Renesmee. They did cast a child actress for the part, but had to CGI her face onto a baby and a toddler and so on and so forth, and it wasn't crappy, but it took me out of the experience quite a bit because it really just made her weird-looking. I couldn't stop giggling over her, until they finally started being able to just show Mackenzie Foy in her "natural" state. (And then I couldn't stop giggling because.. JACOB IMPRINTED ON HER HAHAHAHA. That will never stop amusing me.)
The dozens of international vampires - they were ALL so awesome. They were really fun to read about in the book (aside from Stephenie Meyer giving them some of the corniest lines I've ever heard), and I was excited to see them being portrayed. In the book I LOVED the budding relationship between Kate and Garrett, and was REALLY REALLY pleased that they kept the "If we live through this, I'll follow you anywhere, woman!" line, because it really is adorable. I love that they gave Benjamin a larger role in the movie, because I don't remember much about him from the book aside from what his power was (to be able to control the elements). He really stood out to me (and not just because the actor was super cute). The Amazon vampires were of course amazony and BEAUTIFUL, and it was really fun to see all the different vampire super powers. (You also get to see Volturi Alec's power of sending this "haze" that kind of numbs you and renders you useless - they portrayed it as creepy fingers of black mist, and it was freaky.)
Also - Asian vampire!!! Yay! Though... he dies.
And also - Michael Sheen gives the MOST DELIRIOUSLY BATTY LAUGH OF DELIGHTED SQUEE at one point during the movie, and it was seriously FANTASTIC. I swear. (Well, he is easily the most talented actor of the entire cast, so...)
I'm skipping over a lot of other details (like, the arm wrestling, the "shield training," the touching scenes between Bella and Renesmee during which I CRIED because I'm a sap for anything parent-child ever since I had a kid of my own), because all other thoughts I had about the movie while I was watching it were completely WIPED OUT as soon as I saw THE ENDING. (Yes, those caps were necessary.)
This is your last-chance spoiler warning, by the way!!Okay, so again - in the book, the Cullens have gathered all these vampires to bear witness that Renesmee is not a vamped child, but an actual growing being. The Volturi show up en masse with the hope of stealing a few valuable vampires (like Alice, who had made a run for it long before their arrival) and killing all the rest. They find out, as all the other vampires did, that Renesmee is totally legit, though they try to find something else they can bust the Cullens for. While they are hemming and hawing, Jane and Alec try to sneak-attack our heroes, but Bella has that shield super-power, and everyone on the Volturi side starts to realize, "Oh crap. We might not be able to kill these guys after all." And then Alice returns and saves the day by bringing the only other human-vampire offspring in the world, and the Volturi are like, "Yeah, we're good here. Let's go." The end.
Only that is NOT what happens in the movie. At the LA premiere earlier in the week, some of the cast members hinted that they had changed some elements of the story, and that they hoped the fans wouldn't be too upset. I knew this, but I was like, "Seriously? What could they possibly change?"
Well... let me try to retell it for you.
Alice and Jasper walk into the clearing. "I have proof that we're okay and you're wrong!" (Okay, I'm paraphrasing.) Aro's power is to see into the minds of anyone he touches, so he takes Alice's hand. After a couple beats, Alice pulls back her hand and says angrily, "You're not going to change your mind no matter WHAT we show you!!"
And then promptly delivers a flipping snap-kick to Aro's chin, vaulting him into the air.
What. the. what. This was NOT in the book.
Two Volturi guards grab Alice by the arms to detain her (but of course they don't hurt her, because Aro will want to keep her). Carlisle flies SCREAMING across the clearing at the same time that Aro does, and they collide in mid-air. There is some chaotic tumbling of bodies, and then we see that Aro has landed on his feet.
HOLDING CARLISLE'S SEVERED HEAD IN HIS HANDS.
WHAT. THE. EFFING. WHAT!
I have NEVER in my life heard a collective gasp of horror like the one I heard from all the audience members at that precise moment.
Esme's mouth gapes as she sees the Volturi guard torch her husband's remains. I imagine we each and every one of us had a similar expression on our faces.
Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore.
I know they said they made changes, but I just.. I can't... I... I...
OH MY GOD THEY JUST KILLED JASPER TOO!
WHAT HAVE THEY DONE!
(YES THE CAPS ARE NECESSARY!!!!)
And it just gets worse and worse. Like, all of a sudden, nothing was sacred anymore, and I just couldn't help wondering if EVERYONE was going to get it now.
Seth, in wolf form, gets his neck snapped. Leah, in wolf form, falls to her death in the ravine that is opened, while trying to save Esme. Jacob and Renesmee ALMOST get it.
I'm not a violent woman, but when Alice starts going after Jane, I punched the armrest and cheered, as did everyone else in the theatre. I WANTED REVENGE. More guards fall.
But Aro's head belongs to Edward and Bella. It got really hairy for a couple of seconds with Edward (hey, at this point? I believed them capable of killing off Edward, though I didn't think they actually would), but Bella finally rips his head off. The camera zooms in on his eyes as Bella lowers a torch to his head...
... and then zooms OUT revealing that EVERYTHING THAT JUST HAPPENED is the future that Alice is showing him, the future that will come to pass should they decide to fight.
I have NEVER in my life heard a collective sigh of relief like the one I heard from all the audience members at that precise moment.
It took me a few minutes to restart my heart and let my brain catch up. I totally had NOT seen that coming. I should have known, of course, but since they had never done anything like that in the past and because the fight sequence was so relentlessly long, I was totally duped.
WELL-PLAYED, YOU GUYS. WELL-PLAYED.
Anyway, Aro wisely decides to avoid his own demise and is like, "Yeah, we're good here. Let's go." And the rest of the movie pretty much goes along with the book. The movie concludes with an extended yearbook-like sequence of all the major players from the entire series (like Bella's human friends, and even both Victorias!) and it just gave a really sweet wrap-up to the entire series.
But who cares about that? We're all still in shock over the fight scene!
I even knew there would be a fight scene, but this wasn't the first time they threw in a fight-scene-that-goes-nowhere just to avoid boredom (see: New Moon), so I wasn't expecting much from it. Like I said, I went into this movie totally cynical and not expecting anything new to be brought to the table.
OH, they brought it. They brought it HARD.
When I first saw Part 1, I genuinely enjoyed it and thought it was the best movie of the entire series, and now, having seen Part 2, I would lump them together and say that Breaking Dawn in its entirety is the best part of the entire movie series, though I still think it's the worst book. I will never be able to read the last section of Breaking Dawn the same way ever again, knowing how AWESOME the movie is and what the moviemakers (I dare not call this a "film") brought to the story that totally elevated it above its source material.
Also, there is something to be said about seeing the movie on opening night at the earliest showing. NO ONE saw it coming. From this point on, at all future showings, there will be people who've heard rumblings about the ending or who full-on KNOW what's going to happen. There's something magical about experiencing the same emotions at the same moment with SO many other people. And we all left talking about the same thing.
What a great way to end the series.
God, I need to go to SLEEP. It is now 2:30. I've been writing for an hour and a half.
But damn, it was worth it.