"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2" hits theaters Friday, and reviewers are weighing in about whether the vampire finale is bloody good or a lifeless mess.
Regardless of the critical consensus, Twi-hards are almost certain to show up, but based on the early notices "Part 2" is more likely to be shortlisted for Razzies than Oscars come awards time. The film scored a lackluster 52 percent "rotten" rating on critics aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, with many reviewers breaking out the garlic and stakes to condemn the film's sluggish pacing and wooden performances.
"Part 2" focuses on Bella (Kristen Stewart) as she adjusts to life as a mother and a vampire. Robert Pattinson returns as the brooding bloodsucker Edward Cullen and Taylor Lautner is back as the oft-shirtless, part werewolf Jacob.
On TheWrap, critic Alonso Duralde was largely positive, praising director Bill Condon for bringing some bite to the franchise. Where the film falls short, he argued, is in its source material — the series of novels by Stephenie Meyer that started a phenomenon but were derided for their tortured prose.
"Credit Condon with putting these cardboard characters and their loony dilemmas into a rich atmosphere; whether we’re running through the woods with those ridiculous wolves or following Bella through a lit-for-Christmas Seattle, the director and cinematographer Guillermo Navarro ('Pan’s Labyrinth') give the wintry settings a palpable sense of chilly foreboding," Duralde wrote.
The best thing that Peter Travers could say about "Breaking Dawn" deux was that it signaled the series was finally over. The Rolling Stone critic acknowledged that it was better than other films in the franchise but struggled to find much else to praise.
"You're going to hear a lot about 'Breaking Dawn Part 2' being the best of the Twilight movies. That's like saying a simple head cold is preferable to swine flu," he wrote. "They'll all make you sick."
"Splitting the last book in Stephenie Meyer’s teen-vampire series into two separate movies may have been a wise business decision — with guaranteed throngs of adoring Twi-hards willing to go back for multiple viewings, why not eke out an extra sequel? — but it leaves the last film in the series with no place to go," Stevens wrote.
The movie is so dull, complained San Francisco Chronicle's Mick LaSalle, that audiences might contemplate doing bodily harm to themselves an hour into the latest visit to Forks, Wash.
"One final question: If they've been alive for 800 years, why does every female vampire sound like a Valley Girl? Are they endlessly adaptive, or did they all really stand out in Victorian England?," LaSalle wrote.
It wasn't all pans. A few critics, such as the New York Times' Manohla Dargis found herself on Team Breaking Dawn. Though she griped about its languid pace, Dargis said Condon and his supple stars evoke the glamor of classic Hollywood screen couples. In the process she becomes probably the first critic to compare "Twilight" to the films of George Stevens.
"From the first extreme close-up of Bella fluttering open her dark, feathery eyelashes, Mr. Condon makes this 'Twilight' an intensely tactile and intimate experience," Dargis wrote. "Taking his cues from the Golden Age of Hollywood — the close-ups of Bella and Edward bring to mind those of Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift in “A Place in the Sun.” He bathes his stars in a gleaming light that gives their pale faces a luxurious alabaster sheen. This is one movie that should have been shot in 3D if only to allow the fans to caress the air."
Owen Gleiberman was similarly enraptured by Bella, Edward and their toothsome friends. The Entertainment Weekly critic said that the series benefits from a showstopper of a twist ending.
"It made me realize that, as narratively lumpy as they can be, I like the Twilight films because they're really about the eternal movie romance of vampires at play," Gleiberman wrote.