Breaking Dawn - Part 2 (M)
SOCIETY'S need for a love story is everlasting, and when a film franchise has, to date, grossed $2.5 billion the fact is ferociously confirmed.
But that this love story between a human and a vampire (and then a werewolf) has come to dominate cinema on a global scale for the past four years is telling of the apparent want to also believe in the paranormal; something beyond our true understanding.
The reason why is an interesting and likely unanswerable question. But we do know that the final instalment of The Twilight Saga arrives after a tumultuous year for the leading couple.
Kristen Stewart's affair with her Snow White and the Huntsman director tarnished her reputation in the eyes of some fans; and no doubt blemished the film's preluding hype.
But fans will still come in droves to see the aftermath of half-immortal Renesmee's birth.
Bella (Stewart) has been turned by vampire husband Edward (Robert Pattinson), and finds motherhood suits her well.
Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy) soon becomes the interest of ruling entity the Volturi, who believe she is an immortal child - once human and turned into a vampire.
The Cullens aren't given much time before the Volturi make a visit to kill Renesmee, but use it to gather friends as witnesses to help in the case to spare her.
The hope of restoring peace amongst the ranks seems thwarted as Volturi leader Aro (Michael Sheen) goes about destroying those who are uncooperative.
Combined with the disappearance of family members Alice (Ashley Greene) and Jasper (Jackson Rathbone), Bella and Edward are fearful.
While the saga has always been very much a family affair, this instalment heaps on a lot more seriousness. The small amount of physical romance that remains is, although annoyingly scripted, surprisingly tasteful, and it takes a back seat to the emotional turmoil they face. Bella finally grows up.
But the first half an hour in particular suggests a concession in defeat that the love triangle, in particular Taylor Lautner as Jacob, has truly become a parody of itself.
Director Bill Condon has embraced the fact with humour, be it intentional or not, to alleviate some of the tension we all knew was coming.
Condon, known for diversity among his films including Dreamgirls and Kinsey, treats the adaptation as adult - but at the same time understands the need to balance darker and lighter moments for the young fan base.
This is best shown in a final showdown which differs from the book, proving extremely effective for those in the know.
Frustratingly, something the franchise has never done right is special effects; the final film is no different. That loss of credibility has regularly been shared with the cast performances, which are a mixed bag.
Here, Lautner plays Jacob with a bit of schtick but Stewart and Pattinson's chemistry drops dramatically, seemingly for the lack of romantic content.
For minimal plot, it holds steady over the course of two hours, and over the course of the films this gains points for the twist, as well as intense Amazonian vampires. But like previous instalments, the final chapter is one that will be impressive mostly to fans.
Now screening at Reading Cinemas