Four years, five movies and billions of dollars later the now-immortal vampire saga Twilight is coming to a close. After creating megastars out of the main cast – Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner – the final installment of the franchise, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, is threatening to transform gimlet-eyed critics into Twihards (well, let's not go that far).
The film based on Stephanie Meyer’s book series opens Friday.
Read below for excerpts of reviews from top critics:
The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy observes, "If the entire five-part, 608-minutes-all-in running time of The Twilight Saga means anything at all, it is that vampires are the ultimate fairy-tale characters, as this is a story that literally ends happily ever after and forever for all concerned. Anyone who has seen even one of the previous cinematic installments of Stephanie Meyer’s endlessly protracted cross-species love story basically knows what to expect here, and the multitudes who have seen them all will jam theaters the world over in the coming weeks to experience the consummation so devoutly to be wished: the ultimate and imperishable union of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen."
McCarthy adds: "The end credits feature the very nice touch of presenting a visual parade of all the actors who have played any kind of significant role in the entire series, building from the smallest bit players to Pattinson and Stewart at the end. They acquit themselves here just as they have throughout the saga, which has captured the peak of their youthful beauty. Now it’s time for them, and the audience, to move on."
Roger Ebert says, "If for no other reason, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 deserves credit for providing the takeaway dialogue line of the year: ‘Nessie? You named my baby after the Loch Ness Monster?’ Since the infant has been named Renesmee, what mother would so mistake her infant's nickname? There are other laughs as this fifth and finally final installment grinds to a conclusion, but Breaking Dawn, Part 2 must be one of the more serious entries in any major movie franchise. I suspect its audience, which takes these films very seriously indeed, will drink deeply of its blood. The sensational closing sequence cannot be accused of leaving a single loophole, not even some we didn't know were there."
Los Angeles Times film critic Betsy Sharkey says, "Under [Bill Condon’s] direction, the acting of that all-important threesome has gotten more polished. If you doubt that, the flashbacks will remind just how awkward the earlier outings were. There is also Edward and Jacob's massive sex appeal and their impossibly romantic notions about love, roughly drawn from the Victorian era. But Bella has always been the belle of this ball. In Breaking Dawn — Part 2, Stewart is even more luminous in holding the screen, breathing vibrant new life into her undead beauty queen. She's gotten better working in the 'Twilight' zone, elevating each new chapter as it comes along. It almost makes you regret that this is the swan song."
Christy Lemire of the Associated Press notes, "Now, Bill Condon (who also directed last year's 'Breaking Dawn – Part 1') finally lets his freak flag fly. Here is the Condon of Gods and Monsters, the one who loves lurid horror. Here is the Condon of Dreamgirls, the one with an eye for panache. His final Twilight movie dares to have a little fun – it actually makes you laugh intentionally for once, teetering on self-parody as it does."
The New York Daily Mail’s Elizabeth Weitzman concludes, "Bella finally comes into her own, rejecting the pouty passivity that has been such a hallmark of her character. Neither Stewart nor Pattinson has shown great range in the sequels, but their characters shift in interesting ways here. Bella saves herself -- and many others -- this time around, and Edward, like us, can only look on in amazement. Finally, she’s been transformed into a heroine worthy of the immortality these films will give her."