More blood, Bella, more blood!

The cinematic saga that was Twilight grinds to a close with a whimper rather than a bang

The vegan vampire Edward, pale as Pluto, lets his hand creep up the blouse buttons of his bride, Bella, recently converted by love from human to immortal blood-sucker. But lust still courses through their cold-blooded bodies, or so we mortals can only presume.

Bella: "I still remember how to undress," she says drily, as she brushes off her husband's fingers.

Edward (robotically): "But I can do it better than you."

These two lines are enough to net, in my unofficial estimation, around $49.35 million at box offices around the world, while another topless shot of Taylor Lautner, in the series' greatest running joke, should chip in another $6.7 to $6.9 million, half of that from besotted Southeast Asia alone. Early in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, the final film in the franchise that spreads the romantic virtues of vampirism, there's also an allusion of a marathon bout of sexual congress between Bella and Edward, who were such a chaste high school couple in the earlier movies that they'd have made a perfect poster boy and girl for a campaign to discourage sex among teens.

Now sanctified by marriage _ and cosmically rewarded by the birth of a half-breed daughter _ the pair crumple the sheets and go at it for days, tirelessly, food-lessly, photogenically. Why? Because they're immortal, of course, so bliss is eternal, although the whole thing, the entire Twilight Saga, remains conspicuously unsexy, even after the dam has been breached and the forbidden love consummated. Morality-code enforcers can rest assured, however: one of the biggest pop phenomena for under-20 audiences ever, which comes to an end with this film, is also one of the most awkwardly unerotic, with what sex there is (precious little) having an anaemic quality and the characters' idealistic view of love being more Victorian than Jane Austen's. Older by close to a century, Dracula (anyone remember Christopher Lee?) has never felt hotter.

Of its various attributes, that's the one that most sticks in the mind of this (admittedly) non-convert. To the legion of followers of Stephenie Meyer's books, or fans of Robert Pattinson's and Kristen Stewart's one-note turn as Edward and Bella, this final episode wraps up the package with an orgiastic self-celebration that packs the characters off to their deathless destiny. While many of the details, in-house myths and internal logic will be lost on the uninitiated, this is the second movie to be based on the final book in Meyer's series. Splitting it in two was a ploy to extend the shelf life of the film adaptation and rake in an extra few hundred million dollars _ and it shows: Breaking Dawn 2 runs on the very last gasp of energy and is, at best, a serviceable conclusion that gives hardly any lift to the whole prolonged affair.

But if you enjoyed its predecessors, do, by all means, proceed for you'll surely find some way to enjoy this one (a young woman sitting next to me at a special screening was inexplicably overjoyed, to say the least, the whole way through).

After that aforementioned bout of (unseen) sex, Edward and Bella face the cynical wrath of the Volturi, referred to by other vampires as "the Italiam scum", who plan to accuse the couple's young daughter of being a devilish "Immortal Child", thereby justifying the massacre of Edward and his clan.

To fix this, Edward and his family of palefaces gather a battalion of witnesses _ three coming from as far away as Cairo and another two arriving in the most ridiculous Amazonian fashion, with painted faces to boot _ and they prepare to repel the fascist bloodsuckers.

Jacob the Wolfman, played by Lautner, also enlists the help of his canine packs to fight alongside Bella, despite the never-ending romantic grudge he nurses. Meanwhile, chez Volturi, the supremely theatrical Aro (Michael Sheen) is assisted by a bunch of sadistic sidekicks, most notably Jane, played by Dakota Fanning, her eyes like burning coals. While I wish I could praise The Twilight Saga for having put a creative spin on the old vampire genre by "juvenilising" it and populating it with young, pleasant-looking actors, let's dig up the DVD of a fairly recent Swedish film called Let The Right One In, which is about the puppy love that develops between an underage female vampire and a (human) boy. In that pitiless Scandinavian snow, the plight of the young vampire is scarier, more romantic and concludes by going against the grain of convenient idealism that seems to power Twilight. Movies about monsters reach out to us best when, ultimately, they are not about the monsters but about the (im)possibility of humanising those monsters. Twilight romanticises the idea of "otherness" in such a superficial way that it wanders deeper and deeper into the uninhabitable forest of the undead.

Anyway, the best distraction in this movie is the vampire brawl, with heads being plucked from necks, but _ and this is the kick _ without a drop of blood being let. The manifest absence of haemoglobin _ except in the fantastical title sequence _ sums up this successful but utterly bland franchise: like its heroes and heroines, it's a cold-blooded creature, and the little life it does possess is heading in a single direction _ towards a frozen existence. Die-hard fans will mourn, but fortunately it all ends right here.

About the author

columnist
Writer: Kong Rithdee
Position: Bangkok Post columnist