REVIEW: There's been a lot of fuss recently about The New York Times' review of Guy Fieri's Times Square restaurant, Guy's American Bar and Grill. Some felt that a snooty reviewer had tried to hold a casual eatery up to standards of four-star dining places, and that Fieri's restaurant would have fared better if it was critiqued for what it was, not for what it could never be.
Use those standards, then, when judging "Breaking Dawn Part 2," the fifth and final movie in the "Twilight" series. This movie will never be "Citizen Kane," or even "Bridesmaids." It doesn't matter. Those who loved the books and regularly daydream additional adventures for Bella and clan will not expect Oscar-winning dialogue and acting.
That doesn't mean that the studio has an excuse to lazily throw up a few hand puppets against postcard backgrounds. It just means there's only so much you can do with a story whose source material includes a spine-cracking birth scene, blood being guzzled through straws and vampire baseball.
It's fairly easy to say that almost everyone who was looking forward to seeing "Breaking Dawn Part 2" will enjoy themselves, as the film wraps up the series in a satisfying way, and a neat twist to the credits sequence pays tribute to the characters from all the previous movies. And yes, things don't exactly pan out as they did in the "Breaking Dawn" book, so even fans who've memorized that tome may find some surprises. There's also a brief sneak peek into the characters' future that brought gasps from some of the fans in my screening.
Kristen Stewart as Bella is breathtakingly beautiful as a vampire, with eyes changing from blood red to a hauntingly deep brown, and luxurious locks that a shampoo model would envy. She's not really required to act too much here -- sometimes she just looks like she smelled something bad in the room, and when she attacks someone she thinks is threatening her child, it's with the same attitude Elaine on "Seinfeld" used when telling someone to "Get out!"
The lines, oh, the lines. "We're the same temperature now," Robert Pattinson's Edward says wonderingly to Bella. "It's your turn not to break me," he warns her after noting her new vamp strength. (That might have been about the time a tween behind me sighed, "God, he's GORGEOUS!")
The vampire's super-speed running is still hilarious, as believable as that of Steve Austin in "The Six Million Dollar Man" back in 1975, but thankfully the CGI wolves aren't talking this time around. (There's a really cringeworthy sequence where one of them is ridden like a horse.)
Thank the vampire and werewolf gods for Taylor Lautner, though. He not only takes off his shirt to display those washboard abs, he strips down completely (in a PG-13 way) in one scene. And his Jacob also gets many of the best lines, pointing out some of the most ludicrous plot points with wry humor. When a character wonders if Bella can transform into a wolf too, he snorts, "She wishes she was that awesome."
The plot involves the Cullen coven gathering vampire pals from around the planet to help them convince the ruling Volturi to leave Bella and Edward's half-human daughter, Renesmee, alone. This leads to a gathering of supermodel-gorgeous young people (no one old or fat ever gets to be a vampire, apparently) in stiletto heels and some national-stereotype costumes.
And then there's a fight. Hands are cut off. Heads roll. Or do they? You kind of have to see it for yourself. There was a 4-year-old girl at my screening, and during several blood-splattering scenes, I wondered what she was thinking.
But if you're not 4, and the "Twilight" books are your guilty or not-so-guilty pleasure, gather your coven and head out for the wild, weird finale that puts a blood-red bow on the blockbuster series.