This is not a review but a commentary on some of the themes in the film. Since this movie is part two and is a continuation of “Breaking Dawn Part One,” the CANA article on part one should be read.
Blood, Blood, Blood
The series’ heroine, Bella, formerly human, is now a vampire. This happened right after an excruciating childbirth when she delivered a child she conceived as a human with her vampire husband, Edward. As a quick review, here is an excerpt from the CANA article on the movie, part 1 (the book is sickeningly more specific):
“As soon as the baby is born, covered with blood, Bella’s heart gives out. Edward grabs a huge plunger filled with his venom (a vampire’s saliva — since they are dead, they don’t have regular saliva), shoving it into Bella. He tries CPR but Bella seemingly remains dead…..Edward begins biting Bella all over her body, injecting his venom into her veins to ‘turn her’ so that she will become a vampire.”
Bella naturally wants to see her recently born baby girl, Renesmee. Edward and his clan (vampire family) have shielded the baby from Bella, fearing Bella’s new thirst for blood. Edward tells her, “You need to get your thirst under control,” meaning that unless she drinks some blood first, she might attack her own child in a bloodlust frenzy.
So Bella and Edward hunt for animals, Bella delighting in her newfound vampirehood. Their super powers of speed, strength, perception, and hearing are on display as they race through the forest. Bella sees a deer and starts to attack it, but becomes distracted by her super vision of a rock climber quite a distance away. As luck would have it, he scrapes himself on the rock and bleeds. Before you can say “Renesmee,” Bella zooms over to attack him, with Edward in pursuit to stop her.
Edward catches up to Bella. She is barely able to control herself because of the scent and sight of the human’s blood, but under Edward’s gaze, she restrains herself and manages to leave, flying into the air and down the mountain.
They return to the deer just as a mountain lion is about to assault it. As the lion leaps for the kill, Bella soars and attacks the lion in mid-air. Mercifully, the gory specifics of this scene, which are laid out in nauseating detail in the book, are not depicted. Nevertheless, it is sort of a like a Disney movie gone to the dark side.
Meeting the Baby
Finally able to control her thirst for human blood, Bella meets her baby (who happens to be rather ugly and seems to be a computer generated image) while Edward’s clan gathers round. Jacob, the Native American-human-wolf shapeshifter who has also loved Bella, has come for a visit and is there as well
Barely has this Hallmark family moment started before it’s over. Jacob tells Bella he has “imprinted” on her daughter (“imprinting” is the way these human-wolf creatures discover their soul mates; it seems to work like an instinct). Enraged, Bella throws Jacob out of the house and throws him around repeatedly with her super strong arms.
Vampires don’t sleep, so Edward and Bella have a bed solely for the purposes of super lovemaking (this takes up a big section in the book). In the book, lovemaking is said to be a pleasure “second only to drinking human blood.” Vampires never get tired or have to even catch their breath (apparently, this condition may be the exalted godhood state Mormons look forward to; Stephenie Meyer is a Mormon). The message is clear: humans are vastly inferior to vampires.
Jacob continues to hang around the house because, having imprinted on Renesmee, he can’t stay away (Bella has come to accept this). Meanwhile, Renesmee is growing about 9 times faster than normal children. Jacob, sometimes as a wolf, hangs around, looking longingly and rather leeringly at the child, his future mate.
But a shadow hangs over this happy super non-human family and their human-wolf attendant. The Volturi, a sort of vampire hierarchical authority (depicted as enthroned in Italy in a building similar to the Vatican and dressed like the upper crust clergy at the Vatican, special robes and all), have been told about Renesmee, whom they believe is an immortal child, a child who has been turned into a vampire. Immortal children are forbidden because they are unrestrained in their killing, thus exposing vampires to humans, which is a crime. (Long passages in the book go into the grisly violence committed by the immortal children).
A story is told to Edward’s clan about the acts of these children and how those who turned the children had to be killed, as well as the children. Some rather brutal scenes illustrate this story, including a vicious beheading (vampires behead and burn other vampires in order to destroy them) and throwing a vampire child into a fire.
Edward and his clan believe that the Volturi are coming to kill them, including Renesmee (this has been seen in a vision by one of the clan, Alice). The family decides to gather witnesses who will testify that Renesmee is not an immortal child.
The clan travels around, inviting family and friends to let Renesmee touch them so they can know she is not an immortal (they can feel her blood and heat). One vampire, who will become another ally, is shown as he is catching a human for his meal. After being asked for help, he then finishes what he started by attacking his victim, who is trying to crawl away, killing him as the man gives a helpless cry.
This highlights a problem: these vampire allies drink human blood, unlike Edward’s clan who confine themselves to animals. They have assembled at Edward’s home and promise not to hunt in the area. But they do go further afield to hunt and kill humans (in the book, they go beyond 100 miles but Edward’s clan provides cars for them).
Each vampire has a type of gift. Edward can read thoughts, Renesmee can convey memories to others, Rosalie can electrify with her touch, Alice can see the future (though it can change), one can temporarily blind others, and another vampire can generate fire from his fingers. Bella discovers her gift is being a shield; that is, she is immune to the gifts of other vampires. This immunity is particularly invaluable since it protects her from the destructive gifts of the Volturi and their cohorts (Jane can inflict almost unendurable pain), so Edward’s clan want to teach her to project it to the allied vampires.
Rosalie tells Bella to visualize her gift and then will it to go beyond her. This is an exercise eerily similar to some psychic exercises familiar to this writer. Using Edward as a vampire guinea pig, Rosalie passes electrical currents to Edward while Bella projects her shield, and it works.
Edward, Bella, and clan gather in the snow with the wolf creatures to face the Volturi, who come marching up in long robes and hoods. Renesmee is presented to Aro, the Volturi leader. Placing her hand on his face, he realizes she is not immortal, but half mortal, half immortal.
Irina, the vampire who informed the Volturi that Renesmee was immortal, is brought forward and brutally beheaded by the Volturi for lying to them. This angers the vampires but Edward and others restrain them from fighting back. Jane, a Volturi cohort, inflicts pain on Edward, but Bella is able to project her shield on him, protecting him.
Alice, who can show the future, goes forward to Aro. A fight appears to ensue once it is known that Aro plans to try to get rid of Renesmee, whom he feels will be a danger to vampires in the future. Bella has prepared for this, and Renesmee, backpack and all, rides off on Jacob’s back (in his wolf form). Alice, who has warned Edward’s clan of this plan, is taken by the Volturi and Carlisle, “father” of Edward’s clan, tries to intervene to save Alice (Carlisle is actually the one who turned all in the clan into vampires). However, Carlisle is captured and horrifically beheaded by Aro, so the vampires and wolves attack.
In a fierce battle, Alice’s partner, Jasper, is destroyed. Jane wanders around, inflicting pain. A number of the “good” vampires are destroyed in rather repellent scenes of beheadings, and their enemies suffer toothy wolf woundings as well as beheadings. Jane is literally fed to the wolves, while one vampire pulls off the top half of a Volturi’s head. The carnage is visually massive and ferocious.
Psych! It’s all just a vision that Alice has shown Aro, letting him know the Volturi would be defeated. Aren’t you glad? (I was disarranging my brain cells trying to remember if Carlisle had been killed in the book, and was getting ready to search the 754 page tome when the film reveals it’s all just a vision). So all is well, and Renesmee remains seated on Jacob-as-wolf’s back. At the rate she is growing, they should be married in another year or less.
When the Volturi are assured that Renesmee will be able to live concealed from the world by meeting another immortal child, now adult, who has lived 150 years, they leave in peace.
Alice has a vision of a future Renesmee and Jacob together on a beach, looking happy. Of course, Renesmee is not totally immortal, and at some point she will die while her parents, Edward and Bella, eternally young, will outlive her. Yet the film closes with romantic memories playing in Edward’s and Bella’s minds, as the word “forever” flashes on the screen.
Note: The books cannot be judged by the movies. The books are more detailed and offer erotic scenes; bloody, repulsive images; and gruesome brutality. I believe the books and movies cultivate unhealthy appetites and interests for morbid ideas and images, as well as presenting models of unhealthy romantic attachment.