Sunday, December 09, 2012

Movie Review: "Breaking Dawn pt. 2"

There's been an aura of fangirl wish fulfillment hanging around the Twilight books and movies since day one. I admit freely to enjoying the first book, in spite of some stilted writing/editing, because it reminded me of the painful awkwardness of being a teenager with a hardcore crush on that ungettable get. I have read all of the books in the Twilight series, and seen all the films (I can't bring myself to call it a "saga," which brings to mind Gone With The Wind - which deserves the moniker).

That said, I went to see "Breaking Dawn pt. 2" with a friend last night, and there were some places in which I was very pleasantly surprised indeed. BD is my least favorite book of the series, because of its too-slow pacing and its fizzle at the climactic moment of the story. Without giving too much away, I'll say that they definitely changed a couple of things that had left me underwhelmed when I read the book.

BD2, the film, starts out slow, as the book did, and I found myself preparing for disappointment. It's never easy to carry the "middle" of a story, but BD was noticeable in its slow pacing. I did not, and still don't, understand why they decided to break it into two films. True, there's a lot of story that needs to be crammed in - a lot happens in this book - but the real meat of the story is spread out over pages of introspection that I felt wandered too much from the necessary plot points in the book.

Another flaw of this film is that its CGI is noticeable in its clunkiness. It's hard to translate sensory detail onto film. After all, they haven't invented a way to see-how-she-sees, hear-how-she-hears, and smell-how-she-smells (but I keep hoping). But the action is clearly CGI, too smooth, too perfect, and too smudged. When a viewer finds herself looking for the bad mechanics of artistry in a movie, trust me, it's bad for the story. Edward and Bella's baby is clearly CGI, a completely unnecessary use of the medium. It's the difference between watching something with bad 80's special effects, and watching Avatar ... where you could see pores in skin. The character spends such a short time being an infant that I wonder why it was worth the bother to CGI her. Not only that, but virtually every non-human in this film is over-CGI'd. I felt like I was watching a cartoon, rather than what should (and could, given its budget) have been a photo-real film. Part of the reason we enjoy watching films is to relate to the characters on a human level. That means they shouldn't look/act flawless, even when they are. I can name half a dozen movies where the CGI was so good, it's nearly invisible. This is NOT one of them. The CGI is so visible, it should have had its own acting credit. Story first. The flashy stuff should support it, not outshout it.

Pacing took a back seat, as well (not unexpected). There are too many pauses where the movie lingers on the young, happy, and in-love couple and all the awesome things they can now do. This, to the detriment of Bella's character growth as part of the family in her new role, and Edward's in coming to terms with her change. It's all too easy for them. Granted, I'm from the Joss Whedon school of storytelling, where no one gets to be happy for long ... 'cause what fun is that? We read books and watch movies to see the characters overcome adversity, not to sit there and watch them be happy, as if we're mashing our noses to a storefront window with a sparkly, perfect life inside.

The end of this film may well have been its saving grace. It's another of those awesome examples of revision done right. It got a "Wooooow" out of me, no question. Had the rest of the film been this cunningly written, it might have gotten a 4 or above, but given all its flaws, I can only give this film a 3 of 5. Farewell, Twilight. Let's see what books Hollywood picks next.

No comments:

Post a Comment