The longer this film series goes on, the less I understand about the modern young vampire. (And no, I haven't read the books.) When we last left teen-age Bella (Kristen Stewart), she'd become engaged to Edward (Robert Pattinson), a youngish-looking but still-very-old vampire. This fourth film (adapted from the last novel in Stephenie Meyer's series, and to be presented in two halves) begins at the wedding. It's as nice a day as you can have when guests include humans, vampires and a sulky werewolf named Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who also loves Bella.
Then, it's off to the honeymoon, with its much hyped bedroom (albeit PG-13) scenes. These toggle between bed-breaking sex and playing chess, but fail to clarify the exact mechanics of how the bloodless undead can impregnate a human. But it happens, and it's a mystery to all, apparently. (Edward Googles for answers, while Bella takes the easy out, declaring it "a miracle.") The unplanned pregnancy also brings on some strident pro-life pontificating, with Bella defending the right to carry a demon child, who is seemingly eating her from the inside.
This is just one of the Twilight series' not-very-subtle bits of moralizing, but I confess to getting tangled up in the messages. Early on in the series, despite much dreamy longing, Edward and Bella resisted the ultimate physical intimacy (sex and/or bloodsucking). But now, within the much-heralded sanctity of marriage, the couple end up with some serious (if vaguely detailed) sexual dysfunction, plus a carnivorous monster baby! And left by the wayside: Is it OK for Edward, in the name of love, to bite Bella and make her dead-ish? Where does pro-life intersect with pro-dead?
Much of Breaking Dawn, directed by Bill Condon, unfolds just below full-on camp. There's a fistfight between vampires and wolves; the ongoing pining of Bella, Edward and Jacob, none of whom ever seems to be happy for more than a minute; a least four scenes in which people have trippy brain episodes; a flashback to Edward of the 1930s and some convenient moral relativism vis-à-vis biting people; a medical crisis with all the high melodrama of a Victorian penny-dreadful; and the aforementioned honeymoon sequence that had the theater laughing, not swooning.
Still, fans clapped heartily at the end, so head on out if you need your Twilight fix. (Be sure to stick through the credits for an update from the Volturi.) Newbies are apt to be thoroughly confused, and should just stick easier-to-understand all-human love stories.