The final installment of Stephenie Meyers' 'Twilight Saga' has hit the screen with an audible, if Italian-accented "Squee!" here in its packed hormonal World Premiere at the Rome Film Festival. Destined to make a jillion dollars in its first six minutes of release, the film is already such a juggernaut that voicing an opinion on whether it's any good is a little like examining the fenderwork on the 20-wheeler that's bearing down on you at 100mph: it doesn't matter, because either way, you're going to be flattened. But hardy fools that we Playlisters are, we're going to damn well tell you what we think anyway: "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" is as thrilling, scary and swooningly romantic as this series gets. But it's still dire.
Teen mother Bella Swan got vampire-ized at the very end of the last film, the wedding video known as 'Breaking Dawn - Part 1.' So now that she's an immortal, she gets to run really fast, break rocks with her fists and suppress her desire for human blood, because she's a good vampire, who won't even kill a deer to feed, she'll kill the nasty beast that's about to kill the deer instead. She also gets to have proper vamp sex with hubby Edward (Robert Pattinson), which they apparently enjoy. But freaky uncanny valley CG baby Renesmee is growing up super quick, which has two main side effects: it turns Jacob (Taylor Lautner) from being a creepy weirdo in love with a baby into being a creepy weirdo in love with a toddler really quickly, and it makes them all assume that the lil' moppet is not long for this world. The Volturi get wind of Renesmee's existence, assume she's a child vampire which is against their law, and decide to wipe the pesky Cullens off the map for good. And so the Cullens flit to the four corners of the earth to bring friends back to bear witness that Renesmee is not an immortal, she's just a regular kid with a werewolf boyfriend and the ability to project her memories through cheek-touching. Most of the friends have natty X-Men powers too.There would appear to be a battle coming.
But what of the principals? Well, Stewart and Pattinson seemed fractionally more at ease here, and after a series of affirmations of Bella and Edward's unprecedented love for each other, the spotlight is somewhat shifted off them in the second half anyway. Perhaps we were imagining it, but we'd swear their red eyes were lit with relief at the franchise's approaching end, possibly because they are both promising young actors who have been grossly underserved by these films. Lautner, not so much, but he really does get the mother of all shit jobs here: in love with a baby, getting naked in front of Billy Burke, beaten up by the paramour who rejected him and will at some point presumably become his mother-in-law -- there's no humiliation this poor character doesn't suffer.
Let's just acknowledge that reviewing 'Breaking Dawn - Part 2' for this site is a no-win situation: regular Indiewire readers don’t believe we should even cover it, while the fans who anxiously scour the net for early reviews rarely are those who are willing to hear a single bad word said about it, and will vehemently go three or four times no matter what is written here, or anywhere. But we did kind of love the idea of surprising everyone and suddenly saying "You know what? This is terrific!" and went in with optimism and contrarian bravado. But it's not. 'Breaking Dawn - Part 2' ends a bad series with a bad film, but in relative terms: it's better than 'New Moon' and 'Breaking Dawn - Part 1,' maybe as good as 'Eclipse,' and worse than 'Twilight,' and that's about all we can say for it. [C-]