Let me just get this right out of the way, I have never written anything about Twilight before. I have seen all of the previous entries in this series in the theater and I would certainly never knock anybody for loving the franchise as a whole, but it’s just never been my thing. I certainly never hated any of the movies, and felt that they were watchable, but I also never really loved or even liked any of the movies either. Well, this entry, the best entry in the series has certainly gotten a strong reaction out of me. So much that it made me sit down and write this.
It’s hard to talk about this movie and not talk about that ending. The beginning and middle of this movie were a lot of fun among other things, but man, that ending…wow. Let me back up a little bit though before I fully get into it. Needless to say, huge spoilers will follow.
Twilight had me. I was on the verge of actually loving a Twilight movie. Out of all movies, while watching the huge battle scene in this one, I was reminded of Star Wars. Blasphemy you say, how could that be? Well, I just kept thinking, “Twilight is about to finish up their franchise way better than Star Wars did with Return of the Jedi.” I kept telling myself how I couldn’t wait to tell people about this. But why Star Wars?
Well, I was reminded of Harrison Ford and his plea to George Lucas about how Han Solo should have died in Return of the Jedi. It would tell the audience that all bets were off and everyone was now in danger of dying too. It’s an old story but it finally made sense. Han Solo obviously lived so Star Wars and Lucas didn’t take the risk but instead they played it pretty safe. Well, the battle in Breaking Dawn started with Carlisle, the patriarch of the Cullen family, being decapitated! It was such a shocking moment that filled you with either heavy sadness or anger. One way or the other, you definitely felt it. The stakes had been raised.
Not too long after Carlisle’s death, another one of the main characters, Jasper, was also decapitated. This was insane. Something like goosebumps hit as well as other indescribable emotions, and this was coming from a person who was never a huge fan of the series. No one was safe as Twilight actually had the guts to do something that Star Wars never did. You felt so much hate and anger for the villains so when Dakota Fanning’s and Michael Sheen’s characters were also decapitated, the entire crowd burst into clapping as you were so happy to see these monsters finally get theirs.
Twilight had me. Except, they didn’t really have the guts to do it. They went for one of the biggest fake-outs in cinematic history as we learned that none of the battle stuff actually happened and instead what we saw was just a vision of what would happen if the two actually went to combat. Cooler sides prevail and the Volturi, knowing that they would be destroyed, walk away and let the Cullens be. All of those emotions, the sadness, the anger, the redemption, they were for nothing. Revisiting the movie and the particular scene would just remind you that this does not mean anything and instead plays as one big ‘what if’ scenario.
It would have been so much better if they didn’t tease us with the scene and just played it safe all along. People will say how those deaths didn’t occur in the book so they couldn’t have really gone through with them anyways. I call BS on that too. The film should always work as a film and never be a slave to the book. I have never read a Twilight book, and that shouldn’t really be a requirement when watching a movie. The movie should always hold up on its own.
This is why I feel like the writers and directors that adapt a book should never feel like they have to follow the book word for word or page for page, and in fact the best adaptations come when the creative minds take the ideas and create their own route. Changes are always encouraged in my book, even going so far as to change the ending of the movie from the book. Use the original Planet of the Apes as an example of an ending that was changed from the book, and worked way better. My point is just because these deaths did not occur in the book, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have happened in the movie. Having the stuff on the battlefield actually happen would have made this such a better movie and something truly gutsy and epic. I will never forget the feeling I had when Carlisle and Jasper were killed, and suddenly everyone was in danger. I will also never forget the moment where they took it all back.
It bothers me so much because I felt like they were actually onto something very special and instead we got something that was merely good. Once we found out that it was only a vision, it was a bit hard to get back into the movie, luckily there was only about fifteen minutes left in it. It was a nice touch that they were able to show the flashbacks of the entire series and actually work it into the story in a logical way. The ending credits/roll call was also a nice touch that sent the fans home happy. I can say that I liked the film and that it surpassed the other movies in the series, but then again, with the latter, it’s not saying too much. Now this is only one person’s opinion, while other people and fans of the series will naturally disagree, that’s fine. In my mind, they really had a chance at something truly great and epic, which is why it feels so much more frustrating with the way things actually played out.