When Can I Watch 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2' with My Kids?

When Can I Watch 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2' with My Kids?

Nov 15, 2012

Breaking Dawn Part 2 is the best Twilight movie ever made.
That doesn’t mean it’s good. Please don’t confuse what I’m saying. Categorizing BDP2 as a Twilight movie automatically means it’s saddled with all of the deterrents which prevent it from ever being taken seriously as legitimate cinema. 
But director Bill Condon – as he proved in the initial Breaking Dawn – understands the inherent camp value of Stephenie Meyer’s literary series, and plays to that showy “drama” like a giddy teenager at a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show
And it works… for a Twilight movie.
If you’re reading this, you -- or, more likely, your daughter -- have made it this far into the five-film franchise, and you’re ready to attend the gaudiest farewell party Hollywood has ever thrown. We’ve gone down the Twilight road before in the When Can I Watch column. Having commented on the first chapter in the series, I figured it’d be appropriate to weigh in on the end, as well.
So, let’s hunt a cougar, gather up witnesses for the Volturi, behead a coven of sharply dressed vampires and figure out when you can watch The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 with your kids.
Red Flags: “You nicknamed my daughter after the Loch Ness Monster?!”
If you previously believed that The Twilight Saga was “broken,” BDP2 doesn’t magically “fix” it. Condon minimizes the cheesy, clunky corn that clogs Meyer’s passages, but doesn’t exercise it completely. Effects work remains unacceptably shoddy, and the dialogue is atrocious (as the quote I pulled for the Red Flags subhed will attest). 
All of that being said, Twilight fans haven’t cared up until this point (the series has banked more than $2.5 billion worldwide) and their collective opinion isn’t going to change between now and BDP2’s release date. 
However, because of the subject matter at play here, BDP2 is the most mature – and dare I say violent – Twilight film in the series. Parents planning on bringing young ones might think twice (and not just because your kids deserve to see a better movie, like Wreck-It Ralph or Hotel Transylvania, which also has vampires and werewolves). 
Stop reading here if you haven’t seen BDP2 and want to avoid spoilers!! Condon makes a major change from Meyer’s book, and while the alteration proves successful, the pure shock value needs to be seen on-screen and not spoiled here. Stop reading if you do not want to be spoiled!!
Still reading? Here’s the film’s biggest Red Flag.
There’s a massive battle between the Cullen coven and the Volturi over the fate of Renesmee. 
From what I’ve been told, this physical conflict never happens in Meyer’s last Twilight book, but Condon employs a narrative cheat to let it play out on-screen. And it is bloody! Vampires and werewolves are murdered. Virtually every major character is beheaded. (Why that’s the killing method of choice in this film, I’ll never know.) Faces are ripped in half. Our preview audience was equally appalled and titillated by the violent departure from the book. They loved it, even as they were horribly surprised by it. The BDP2 finale honestly was one of the most interactive and passionate experiences I’ve had with an audience in a theater in 2012. It’s almost worth seeing on opening weekend for that sequence, alone. 
The violence isn’t the only Red Flag in BDP2, but it is the boldest warning sign for parents to consider. Other than that, the series has matured with its characters. Now that Bella (Kristen Stewart) is a vampire, she and Edward (Robert Pattinson) can – and do – engage in tireless sex. 
There’s a subplot regarding immortal children where the Volturi go after vampire kids and their mothers. And by “go after,” I mean they are burned to death. It’s rough, but necessary. Honesty, the violence, sex and brutality have become a part of the Twilight mythology, and the story (such as it is) has earned the right to try most of this. But parents should know that BDP2 is more mature than the earlier Twilight films… just as the core audience likely has matured. 
Green Lights: “Everyone here has something to fight for.”
In the process of maturing, The Twilight Saga touches on a couple of noteworthy points that are worth highlighting because you and your kids might miss them as girls (and grown women) shriek at the sight of Taylor Lautner and Pattinson in all of their dreamy teen-pinup goodness. 
Bella, at this stage, is a mother. She’s settling into marriage with Edward, and putting a house together. Later, she’s fighting to protect her child from a threat. Her power, not coincidentally, is the ability to project an invisible force field that separates her loved ones from their enemies. And there’s a moment when Bella has to make a very difficult decision regarding Jacob possibly escaping with Renesmee… a sacrifice that would be painful to the mom but beneficial to the daughter. It will strike a chord with parents in the theater.
So will the unified front put up by the Cullen clan as they rebel against the Volturi’s ignorance. Social and political themes can be read into the final BDP2 battle… and did you ever think you’d be able to say that about a Twilight movie? 
Appropriate Age
Back when I wrote about the first Twilight, I put the age range between 10 and 12 – the “tween” audience to whom the Twilight movies catered. But the movies matured over the years, and BDP2 is the most adult of the series.
That’s not saying much. It’s still not conventional “horror,” despite the presence of vampires and werewolves. This franchise has always been closer to a teen soap opera. It’s what the audience wants, and it’s what the audience gets. 
That being said, the proper age for BDP2 is a lot closer to 16 and up, given all the steamy (but chaste) on-screen sex and, of course, the beheadings. Lots and lots of beheadings.
If you stayed with the franchise from day one, you’re likely the right age. If you’re just coming to the Twilight series as a newcomer, start at the beginning, read this, and enjoy the ride.

If you’d like to read previous entries in the "When Can I Watch That with My Kids?" series, click right here. Some of the films covered: Star Wars, Back to the Future, The Goonies, Hugo, The Princess Bride, The Monster Squad and Elf, to name just a few.

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