There's a crazy moment in the middle of this movie -- and no, it doesn't really count as a spoiler, because if you're reading this review with any sort of intent to see the film, it's pretty much a lock that you've already devoured the books or at least heard about what's coming soon to a non-vampire womb near you -- when Bella (Kristen Stewart, less lip-chewy than ever but still sort of lost in her own story) learns she's pregnant with Edward's (Robert Pattinson) monsterbaby. Concerned that this unplanned demon-seed might possibly, you know, kill her from the inside out, she gets on the phone to ask important medical questions of Edward's doctor "father" Carlisle (Peter Facinelli). And then Edward, a take-charge hero of yore stuck in 2011, understandably concerned about his new wife's health but seemingly never having read even the Cliff's Notes version of Our Bodies, Ourselves, yanks the phone from Bella's hands to discuss the matter with Dad. Sorry, Little Missy, this is Vampire Business, don't worry your pretty head about it.
But again, it's not like any of this is news for longtime fans of this series. Bella is always having to be led around, told what to do and where to go, who to avoid and how not to be killed over her otherwise normal teenage yearning for love. From a seat in the audience, it seems like it sort of sucks being her, but she keeps on saying how happy and in love she is, so who are we to tell her otherwise?
In this penultimate installment, as the sub-world of vampires and werewolves and one human lady torn between their love swoons its way toward the final showdown between each other and the capey, flouncy Volturi coven (who, let's be real, are clearly evil but don't seem quite tough enough to fight anyone and win), we pause for a good long moment for Bella to feel conflicted and uneasy about a lot of stuff: high heels, wedding gowns, marriage itself and whomever's idea those blood-prophecy rose petals raining down from the sky were. But after a shaky white wedding Mrs. Vampire knows exactly what she wants -- to finally get with some of that Sparkle. Never mind that sex with him actually destroys entire rooms and leaves her bruised and battered. She's down for whatever.
What follows the wham-bam honeymoon is a disturbing domestic drama about unplanned pregnancy and its consequences, She's Having A Baby with even gnarlier complications, O-Negative smoothies and a glimpse into the womb that looks like what Bella's really carrying around inside her is the primordial goop from The Tree of Life mixed with a jug of living antifreeze. And the monsterbaby Bella names Renesmee? Nowhere near as cool as the ones from It's Alive, Eraserhead or Basket Case, but at least she... well, I won't give it away. Let's just say it's something you need to see to believe.
The cast and their abilities is old news, too, but thank new director Bill Condon for finally injecting some body-horror into this previously boring, bloodless sitcom and making all of its goofy, vintage unfeminism seem like the appropriately gruesome freak show it is. The finished product allows the audience to take it as as seriously as it takes itself and/or laugh at its inherently ridiculous retro romance. No matter which side you're on, you wind up winning.