Vampire Film Needs Transfusion

Vampire lovers all over the world probably are in mourning now because what is surely the longest soap opera in the history of cinema has ended with the recently released “The Twilight Saga – Breaking Dawn – Part 2.” What a bloody tragedy!

It all began four years ago when “Twilight,” the first film based upon the best-selling novel by Stephenie Meyer, hit the big screen. And the madness was on. Fans of the book flocked to see the movie, as they did to see all of the ensuing films adapted from Meyer’s phenomenally successful series of four books chronicling the love affair between 17-year-old Isabella “Bella” Swan (Kristen Stewart) and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), a vampire who has celebrated 104 birthdays and who looks 18.

For the uninitiated, the genesis of Bella and Edward’s relationship occurred in Forks, Washington, where Bella moved to live with her father so that her mother could travel with her new husband. When Bella enters high school, she meets and is immediately attracted to a strange boy named Edward, who turns out to be a vampire. The books and subsequent films deal with the trials and tribulations of the forbidden love between Edward and Bella. He knows he should stay away from her, and she knows she shouldn’t have anything to do with him, and so through the course of four books and films, the sanguine soap opera seeps on until finally they decide to say the hell with it all and get married.

Now the filmmakers who are always ready to earn an extra buck or two had the brilliant idea of making two movies from “Breaking Dawn,” the final book in the series. Thus the first film took us through the long-awaited and eagerly anticipated wedding and  Bella’s ensuing pregnancy. Bella doesn’t have an easy time carrying her baby, and as her delivery time approaches, there is much gnashing of vampire teeth. (If you haven’t read the books or seen the first two films, you may want to stop reading here.)

Bella almost dies during childbirth, and the only way to save her is for Edward to turn her into a vampire, something he has resisted doing throughout their turbulent courtship. But he does indeed change her, and as “Breaking Dawn – Part 1” ends, Bella regains consciousness and opens her now red eyes to show everyone that she is now and forever a bloodsucker.

And “Breaking Dawn – Part 2” begins with the scene where she opens her eyes; then we see Edward is with her, and our hearts leap up with joy to know that they will live forever bounding through the woods together in search of fresh blood. In fact, that’s exactly what they do because Bella is quite thirsty.

Because Bella has been ill, she has never seen her child, and after their feeding, Edward takes her back to the vampire house to meet her. Here we also find Jacob (Tyler Lautner), a werewolf who had a case on Bella before she picked Edward over him. (I think Bella is partially blind because Jacob is a hell of a lot better looking than Edward, and he also morphs into the most magnificent CGI wolf you’ve ever seen.)

So here’s the big conflict in this film. In the world of vampires, it is a huge to make a human child immortal by turning it into a vampire because immortal children cannot keep their condition a secret. Because Edward and Bella’s daughter, Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy), was conceived while Bella was still a human being, she is half vampire and thus not truly immortal. But when Irina (Maggie Grace), a relative of Bella’s, sees Renesmee from a distance, she mistakenly identifies her as an immortal. And unfortunately Irina is a blabbermouth and a tattletale, and she goes to Italy to report to the Volturi, the supreme ruling body of vampires, about the child.

Because immortal children are strictly forbidden among the ranks of vampires, the members of the Volturi, headed by the creepy Aro (Michael Sheen), bring about 4 million vampires to America to find out whether Renesmee is indeed immortal, and this sets up a massive confrontation between the Volturi and the Cullens, who have recruited as many of their friends as they can find, including Jabob and the wolves, to help them in what may be a massive vampire war.

I suppose it’s only apropos that in a film about vampires the acting pretty much sucks. Both Pattinson and Stewart seem capable of only one facial expression, and the chemistry between the two of them as lovers is practically nonexistent. In fact, it’s hard to believe they became worked up enough to create a baby.

Throughout the years I’ve watched a veritable plethora of blood- feeder movies, and I can say that Edward Cullen is beyond any doubt the wimpiest vampire in history. In addition to being completely devoid of any semblance of masculinity, he’s an unadulterated disgrace to everything Dracula stands for, and I’m sure he makes the great vampire portrayers like Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr. rotate slowly in their respective coffins.

As I am certain you know, perhaps the most traditional way to kill a vampire is by driving a wooden stake through its heart. I venture to say a twig from a sapling would be enough to take care of Edward. Sunlight also does vampires in, but I think Edward could spend a day on the beach and just get a nice tan.

The books and the films are all from Bella’s viewpoint, and at least she is stronger than Edward, and of course her character undergoes the most change in the saga because she turns from a human to a vampire. In the film’s production notes, Stewart, who was just 17 when she made the first film in the series, explained how both she and her character mature throughout the saga.

“I started this whole thing when I was really young and in the first movie, I am so very human… full of idiosyncrasies with clear insecurities. I stutter a lot in Twilight, which is something that I liked. It was really good for the series because, when Bella becomes a vampire in the final film, I am completely still and in control. I approach movement and talking in a scene completely differently because Bella’s mind now works so fast.

“I’ve been really, really excited about developing Bella’s vamp thing. Not just the look, I like her powers the best. She’s definitely my favorite vampire. Bella doesn’t even realize she has these really enormous talents, but I would want these gifts. Even though she makes fun of it, her super self-control is actually probably the coolest power in the series. Also she can project her shield, like a membrane. Bella can protect anyone who steps within that, and any other vampy power has no effect on her whatsoever, which is why Edward cannot read her mind. It all starts to click why it’s been so difficult, why they’ve been drawn together, and why she’s been such a mystery to him… all of that makes sense now.”

“Breaking Dawn – Part 2” brings the Twilight Saga to a close, but it is a film featuring a pathetically weak male vampire and the kind of acting taught at the Keanu Reeves Academy for the Performing Arts. Only Sheen turns in a noteworthy performance as the wacky head of Volturi, and he really sinks his teeth, or fangs, into the part.

Those who have followed Bella and Edward from the start probably will like the film, but after consulting my blood meter for a final score, “Part 2” gets a six. Actually it would have been only a two or three had it not been for three things: Sheen’s portrayal of Aro, a superbly unpredictable twist, and those stunningly beautiful CGI wolves, which are an absolute special effects masterpiece.

So we bid farewell to Bella and Edward and leave them to the task of raising their daughter. I just hope that at some point Bella comes to her senses, divorces Edward, and marries Jacob so she will never again need to worry about shaving her legs.

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