Human Bella (Stewart) and vegetarian vampire Edward (Pattinson) finally tie the knot and engage in some nookie. But when she becomes pregnant, they face a life-threatening dilemma. The neighbourhood wolf pack circles, determined to prevent the birth of a
You already know if you’re going to see this film or not. Twi-hards will more-or-less enjoy this fiercely faithful adaptation of the first half of the final book, which lavishes screen time on their favourite characters and wallows in melodrama. Haters, meanwhile, will hate more violently than ever given the heightened emotional pitch and endless hand-wringing. For the tiny group of people in the middle, this starts strong, takes a turn for the weird and occasionally veers into the ludicrous.
There are effective elements. The wedding scene manages to inject some humour into a series that’s often po-faced, these lighter moments largely thanks to the chronically underused Anna Kendrick and Billy Burke, and Bella (Kristen Stewart) shows some amusingly human insecurities on her wedding night. Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, meanwhile, have never been better in these roles, the latter leavening his grimaces with much-needed sarcasm and the former relishing the flaws in the romantic ideal.
But the problems are insurmountable. The entire second act is like a particularly overwrought soap opera — an impression not helped by some of the worst incidental scoring you’ll hear outside porn — as everyone tries to persuade Bella to end the pregnancy that risks killing her and she determines to brave the danger. It seems to last for hours, punctured by some laughably bad conversations between CG wolves who see the baby as a threat, although the bigger danger would appear to be the devolution of their special effects, and horrendous mugging by the Cullen family (particularly Jackson Rathbone’s bizarre Jasper), still crippled by the least flattering wigs in human history.
Then there’s the toned-down but still grotesque pregnancy itself, a horribly emaciated Bella (so that’s where the effects budget went!) struggling to survive this chestburster baby. For those not already inured to the weirdness by the book, it’s all going to be more than a little hard to take — although her stomach-clutching is the closest the film gets to excitement. Even for this action-averse series, this is exceptionally short on fighting, a brief clash between vampires and werewolves (which gives Kellan Lutz’ Emmett a reason to turn up for the first time in four films) is all you get. Still, at least they put the ending in the right place, creating just enough of a cliffhanger to get the fans back for the final instalment. We’d promise more action and less weirdness next time around, if only we could.
The acting's better than it's ever been, but with the best will in the world, this can't get past the fact that the story's demented.