**NO Spoiler Alert**
Since I reviewed the first theatrical installment of this series in 2009, it is now only fair to give it one last look as the new Breaking Dawn - Part 2 filters its way through movie theaters, into the hearts and minds of our young people and right back out again with a resounding gale of laughter.
If you saw it, you must remember the unintended humor in certain scenes, when random moviegoers or perhaps your own date just couldn't contain themselves. Even worse, I sometimes had to restrain my giggle as Bella stalked around, feigning power and ferocity. Or when shots of baby Renesmee resembled a floating head against a green screen -- a convalescent jack-in-the-box, if you will.
But you know, I feel like I shouldn't have wanted to giggle -- I really shouldn't have. I mean, Bella is finally portrayed as a strong female character who no longer buckles at the slightest ripple in Edward's mood. She's supposed to be cured of her lameness. In other words, now that she's an unbreakable immortal vampire, she's actually something to be proud of.
And now, unfortunately, it's funny. Or funnier than it used to be... which is an accomplishment. And you know what? I like Kristen Stewart. It's just that the character of Bella doesn't convince me the way I want her to. You might blame the actress, Robert Pattinson, the director, the stylists or even the lighting. Alas, the puny image of Bella remains, poignantly emanating from the film as well as the novel.
Yet this doesn't stop you from reading on (or watching), hungry for more. Like a dry chocolate chip cookie, it just doesn't hit the spot, but you keep eating because there's chocolate in it. Or maybe you're hormonal. Like many stale pastries, it's just something decent to chew on as you idle your time and energy with the distraction of a subpar treat.
We can also put it this way: Bella's character is so inherently weak in terms of personal power, that when she finally morphs into a stronger being, the clothes don't fit. Know why? Because it's not on her terms -- it's on Edward's.
My best friend and literary book enthusiast once said that one blazing sign of a lopsided and perhaps abusive relationship in real life is when the woman is led to believe that she must abandon her entire self -- her old friends, family, and identity -- and join HIS realm of influence in order to be considered special or noteworthy. This is a dangerous form of isolation and it actually exists in much less inspiring ways in the lives of many women today.
Conversely, this movie romanticizes it. Much like Fifty Shades of Grey romanticizes the patriarchal and quasi-abusive relationship between Ana and Christian. Notably, I would argue that the latter is more demonstrably disempowering than the former. Yet, I aim not to dissect which book is more unhelpful to women in this article. Only a deaf mute could contend that neither book has elements of 'super annoying.'
But I digress.
As far-fetched as the aforesaid comparison may seem, it is somewhat relevant in this context only because Bella is such a moping scarecrow to begin with. Alternatively, if she had been a formidable woman on her own, or if she had at least feigned more worthwhileness through her human skin in the beginning of the saga, we might have gleaned a better vibe from her in the final film.
That being said, Breaking Dawn - Part 2 does try to lend an image of egalitarian power structures between male and female vampires, and I can appreciate that from a feminist perspective. And for the most part, the movie was entertaining to watch -- who doesn't get a kick out of feuding supernatural clans these days?
So go ahead and watch it, giggle and appreciate that they gave it a valiant effort. Oh, and did I mention that Dakota Fanning's role is a wonderful but sorrowfully under-used character? Bummer about that...