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updated: 11/16/2012 5:23 AM

Action, Stewart revive 'Twilight' saga in 'Breaking Dawn 2'

'Twilight' finale finally embraces over-the-top action

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  • Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy) and her vampire mother Bella (Kristen Stewart) realize they're in danger in the crazy finale "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2."

      Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy) and her vampire mother Bella (Kristen Stewart) realize they're in danger in the crazy finale "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2."

  • Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) face their trouble with the Volturi in "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2."

      Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) face their trouble with the Volturi in "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2."

  • Video: Breaking Dawn Part 2 trailer

 
 

Finally,finally, FINALLY after four years with four films of fangless, bloodless turgid vampire/human romance -- plus Kristen Stewart moping around like a goth girl recovering in a methadone clinic -- something actually happens in the "Twilight" saga!

Heads roll.

Lots of heads, too.

Those nasty vampires, the Volturi, rip the heads off the good vampires and stuff fiery torches down the corpses' exposed throats.

The good vampires, led by Stewart's Bella Swan and Robert Pattinson's Edward Cullen, respond by tearing the heads off the venal Volturi and sticking stuff down their throats.

Then, the still-fakey-looking werewolves, led by Taylor Lautner's Jacob Black, get in on the action by chewing the Volturi heads off and spitting them out after using them as squishy teething rings.

There's only one question to ask here: What took so long?

Director Bill Condon made Part 1 and Part 2 of "Breaking Dawn" over six months stretching between 2010 and 2011, and the relative inertia of "Part 1" in which Bella gives birth to her half-human, half vampire daughter, never suggested the over-the-top craziness and riotous absurdity that Condon embraces in this fairy tale final chapter.

"Part 2" picks up exactly where "Part 1" left off. Bella, dying in childbirth, is saved when Edward's bite transforms her into a vampire.

As a critic, I have to say that the "Twilight" series should have closed on that exquisite final shot of Bella revealing those fiery red contact lenses and that Maybelline makeover that magically appears when one turns into an immortal.

The series would have ended on a delicious note of ambiguity, leaving open the question of Jacob's "imprinting" on Bella's baby daughter, and left us wondering how Mom would break the news to her police chief dad, Charlie (Billy Burke), that his new granddaughter is only half a Rosemary's baby.

But no! That would have robbed us of this violently nutty, all-out, full-scale battle sequence right out of "Braveheart," only with fighters who are already dead.

When Aro (Michael Sheen), the snakelike Volturi leader, tries to out-slither Alan Rickman's performance as Snape in the Harry Potter films, it's gotta-see stuff.

So is the part where Aro and a good vampire leap into the air and fight like Chinese martial arts performers from a grainy, 1970s chopsocky epic.

The dialogue is often a hoot or an anguished scream.

Take the scene where Jacob refers to the imprinted baby Renesmee as "Nessie."

Bella's red irises go nuclear.

"You nicknamed my daughter after the Loch Ness sea monster?!!" she screeches.

See? Had the series stopped at "Part 1," we would have missed that comical exchange. With dialogue like this, Condon has inadvertently directed a parody of his own movie and those of preceding directors Catherine Hardwicke, Chris Weitz and David Slade.

Anyway, "Part 2" opens with Bella and Edward feeling randy while someone plays a guitar and sings gently in the background.

Oh, wait. That was an intrusive soundtrack song, one of many that call attention to themselves and actually detract from the emotional moments in the story.

Edward, Carlisle (Peter Facinelli), Esme (Elizabeth Reaser) and other good vampires realize that the control freak Volturi will come to kill Nessie -- uh, Renesmee -- because although she's mortal, they think she's a full vampire who will get hungry and wipe out an entire suburb when she throws a child's temper tantrum.

That will call attention to the existence of the vampires. That can't be tolerated.

"Only the known is safe," Aro says. "Only the known is tolerable. Can we live with such uncertainty?"

It's sometimes hard to tell if Aro works as a Volturi leader or an investment strategist.

"Breaking Dawn Part 2" is still a fangless, bloodless vampire/human romance.

But Stewart supplies the series with its most remarkable performance here. She casually slips into vampiredom as it were a sexy negligee.

Stewart comes out beautiful, alert, charismatic and cool, rarely falling back on her exhaling tics for dramatic effect. She's a revelation.

She and those rolling heads.

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