The Twilight series, following the lead of Harry Potter, decided to split-up the final volume of the popular teen romance to allow for two films, extending the anticipation of fans (and deepening the pockets of producers). And like Harry Potter, the decision proves to be a poor one. With much of the meat-and-potatoes of the plot taken on by Breaking Dawn – Part I, there’s not enough left to deal with here, so we get instead drawn-out plot elements and excruciating series of dialogues and proclamations, as the good vampires face-off with the bad vampires. In between, the real appeal of the film, at least as far as the series’ diehard fans are concerned: long schmoopy interludes that show Kristen Stewart’s Bella Swan and Robert Pattinson’s Edward Cullen living out the girlish fantasy of married life, complete with a fairy tale cottage, a baby conveniently taken care of by family members, and plenty of time for what appears to be some pretty good vampire sex.
But I’ll quit the snark there. The truth is, I’ve have a soft spot for these films, and while I’m not exactly sad to see the dusk finally fall on Twilight, I have enjoyed the three of five films I have seen more than I ever expected. There is something so sincere and innocent about them, their metaphoric wrangling with the hot-and-bothered heart of the teenage girl making something like sense of earnest longings that baffled me when I was a high school bit player in someone else’s vampire and werewolf fantasy. The films’ have also played for self-deprecating laughs, humor coming from the movies’ willingness to poke fun at some of its own melodramatic ridiculousness. In the latest film that comes via some of the goofy dialogue between the various eccentric members of the extended vampire “family,” as well as some of the more over-the-top, head-popping grizzle that dominates the film’s singular action sequence. And while the blatant escapism, anti-dramatic fantasy, and nauseatingly saccharine sentimentality might make some bristle, I found my empathizing with how these elements appealed to those young fans struggling to make sense of the world through the fog of adolescence. And while those fans will eventually (hopefully) grow out of Twilight, the films’ real legacy may be measured by the actors it has introduced to the screen, Stewart and Pattinson, whose post-Twilight films have already indicated talent with a much longer shelf life.