Some movies seem interesting only because of what they tell about the entertainment business. Movies directed at young women—the Sex in the City films, for instance, or “The Hunger Games”—really aren’t intended to amuse old men. The artifice these movies use to suck their target audience in doesn’t work on other moviegoers, who are consequently able to see what the movies suggests their makers thought about the intended viewers.
The new and possibly last of the Twilight pictures, “Breaking Dawn Part 2,” will be a success with older girls and younger women, the people for whom it was made. Directed by journeyman Bill Condon, “BD2” has a central romance between relatively attractive characters, a major family crisis to provide some narrative complication, a cute little girl and a vaguely ethnic hunk (Taylor Lautner) who takes off his shirt.
In place of delightful costumes, the movie substitutes interior design details from the junction of L.L. Bean and Ikea. And the cast includes some real talents, including Michael Sheen as Aro, chief of the vampire Interpol, Ashley Greene and Billy Burke in their break-out roles, and Dakota Fanning hidden in the second row of Aro’s little army but shining through nevertheless.
The movie is based on a series of books by Stephanie Meyer. The stories are about a rural Oregon teen named Bella (Kristen Stewart) who falls in love with a glittering and humane local vampire, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). Ironically, she is beloved by a local American Indian named Jacob (Lautner) who is also a werewolf.
The couple finds a way to get married. Bella is pregnant before her new hubby bites her neck and turns her into “an immortal.” The baby grows up fast. Jacob, we are told, “imprints on” the little girl, whose name may be “Resume.” I thought the young fixed on their minders rather than vice versa, but perhaps I’m just behind the roll of these important concepts.
Three brief observations about the blood-suckers. First of all, some of them have additional powers—the ability to see the future, to give pain without touching, or to neutralize the effects of another’s special powers. Second, their cops, who look like a nineties reunion of the Rock band Spooky Tooth, are run by a sort of fangtator, Aro, who has a history of ordering the battlefield execution of whole squads of his fellow heel-hangers except for the one with a special power. That one is invited into Aro’s cops unit.
Third, vampires have had some poorly described and not dramatized trouble with babies who were bit and turned into new vampires. So that isn’t allowed anymore.
Well, the Spooky Teeth arrive in the Pacific Northwest, supposedly outraged that someone has turned Resume into a vampire. The Cullen clan has prepared for their arrival by calling in specially-powerful cloak-wearers from all over. These guys are around supposedly to testify to the cops that Resume has not been bitten.
Bella and Eddie are accompanied onto a snow-covered potential battlefield by the witnesses and by werewolves, the natural enemies of all international police units. They meet the Spooky Teeth and begin with a little parlay.
Now. Here’s where I had a bit of a shock about what Hollywood thinks young women want from movies. There is considerable violence in the movie’s last third. It is silly looking—how intimidated would you be to see an enraged 100 pound Kristen Stewart running at you? But the fighting isn’t any sillier than it is in many kung fu movies.
The recent popularity among female readers of series romance novels with sex scenes as graphic as anything you’ll see on literotica.com have puzzled me. Maybe, I found myself thinking, there is an ideal level of the sort of aggressive action one associates with young men. And maybe our societal campaign against hurt feelings has kept their expression of this sort of aggression out of our shared consciousness until women, who aren’t these days subject to as much institutional oversight, have started thirsting for the story elements we used to associate with action-adventure movies and books directed at men.
But, then, “Breaking Dawn Part 2” made all this thinking inconsequential when it did the equivalent of announcing that its action scenes had all been a dream. Oh well. The girls this movie was intended to entertain won’t find this old trick ruins their cinematic fun.