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Taylor Lautner as Jacob

Taylor Lautner as Jacob

Taylor Lautner as Jacob

Nowhere is the tendency to tell rather than show more problematic and consequential than in the romance between Bella and Edward. Even for the critic who wants to judge the film on its own terms rather than simply dismissing it out of hand, it is hard to make sense out of so many of the characters' actions when one has to keep reminding oneself that "oh, yeah, it is because they are supposed to be really, passionately in love." I tend to attribute most of that difficulty in believing in the extent of the grand passion to Pattinson's rather flat and uncharismatic performance. Lautner has struck me throughout the series as the more charismatic actor and Jacob the more sympathetic character. That said, the Twilight fan and expert I saw the film with argued that Pattinson has been severely hampered throughout by a poor script in the first Twilight film that never truly explained Edward's character much less explained why Bella fell in love with him. For my friend the Twilight fanatic—and I have to think for the franchise's fans her response is more representative than my own—the finale was fully satisfying, giving fans "the moment we've been waiting for."

If you don't know what that moment is—if you are dragged to the movie by a wife, a daughter, a sister, or a girlfriend—you will probably find the film a little clunky but tolerable. If, however, you actually liked the Twilight books then go get in line right now, because Stephanie Meyer finally put her foot down and insisted that the last movie be made for you rather than for me.

Talk About It

1. Bella says she was "born to be a vampire." What does this mean? What are the implications of such an assertion for Bella's (and, hence, the film's) understanding of God?

2. Are the Cullens and their circle of allies morally superior to the Volturi? If so, what values or codes of conduct make them so?

3. Does the emotional appeal to Bella of being a vampire lie more in her being loved or being empowered? Is the vampire society truly an egalitarian one?

The Family Corner

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part 2 is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence including disturbing images, some sensuality and partial nudity. The sexual content is less explicit than in Part 1, but the violence is more graphic. Killing a vampire involves ripping his or her head off and burning the body, so we get to see several decapitations. One head is ripped off by holding the victim's mouth open and tearing the head at the jaw. These are some very gruesome images and that the film received a PG-13 rather than an R seems to indicate both ratings creep and a higher tolerance for violence than for sexual content at the PG-13 level. There is also some intense animal violence involving characters who are werewolves. One vampire feeds on a human victim, and this scene is regrettably played for laughs—as a means of introducing a secondary character—rather than any kind of pathos or horror. Edward and Bella are shown having sex once, though this is filmed through a moderately tame montage of extreme close ups of body parts—hands holding, backs arching, and the like. Bella speaks in graphic terms about the intensity of her physical desire for Edward and his performance as a lover. The language is explicit but not crude. Jacob (Taylor Lautner) strips to his underwear in one scene that is played for laughs but is more or less present to provide eye-candy for female viewers.

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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part 2