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Moaning, Death, and Big Bucks Times Two

Its not that Twilight, Breaking Dawn Part 1 (a mouthful) is the worst picture of the year, it’s that it’s the most cynical. “Cynicism is the death of any of us,” said the brilliant production designer, Polly Platt (Paper Moon, War of The Roses).   The picture reeks of cynicism.

Stephenie Meyer’s ultra successful literary saga ended (hopefully) with the final book, Breaking Dawn. But the success of the franchise in movies has been so extraordinary, that the distribution entity, Summit, elected to take the final book apart in two sections. Well, we know what Solomon had to say about splitting the baby. Yet, the Harry Potter finale was able to successfully divide the final child of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows into two parts. But Harry’s finale had a great deal of story.

Just a few minutes ago (November 28, 2011) the Hollywood Reporter announced that Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 2 is the ninth picture of the year to pass the $500 million marker worldwide. This, in only 12 days. It is possible, but not probable, that it could hit a billion dollar worldwide box office before the end of this year.

And yet, young girls, a significant part of the Twilight audience, who love everything and historically rate movies extremely high, gave the newest flick a shockingly low 26%, according to Rotten Tomatoes, the internet movie rating site of choice. Only Jack and Jill rated lower. In contrast, pictures currently in the multiplexes, Moneyball was rated at 95% and The Artist was rated at 97%.

With a rating so low, it can’t only be that the picture was awful, it’s because it had the smell of death about it. It goes right back to what Polly Platt had said: Cynicism is death. The problem is that the distributors cut the baby in two but there was no story left once they got through surgery. For the last half hour of the picture, the heroine sits or lies on the sofa and moans over birth pains.   Occasionally, some werewolves howl and  people run up and down the staircase of a glass house. It’s shockingly empty of narrative: there just sitting around waiting for the birth of vampire baby. The rest of the movie has two beats: she gets married, she has wild sex with Edward, the vampire (which apparently ended up on the cutting room floor (all we see is scratch marks and a broken bed). After all, the picture had to be PG 13 because you needed the teenage girls.

We all understand the nature of commerce and art. It’s an unholy alliance and balance must be found.

It’s simply sad to me that such a wildly successful franchise opted away from caring for the fans and the canon of the characters and the story, to serve the god of mighty commerce only. Maybe that’s what we can expect from mythmakers of vampires and werewolves. Perhaps the Bella fans will forget and will come back in droves for Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (another mouthful). It’s almost as sad to see such a talent as Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, and Dreamgirls) working on, at best, the very worst Lifetime picture ever. Okay, that’s enough on this trifle. It’s only worth a short amount of your time. Thank you for listening.