"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2" from a Critic's Point of View

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After the birth of Renesmee, the Cullens gather other vampire clans in order to protect the child from a false allegation that puts the family in front of the Volturi.
Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment
November 28th, 2012

"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2" from a Critic's Point of View

-- With the release of "Breaking Dawn Part 2," the "Twilight" series has now come to an end after five overwhelmingly successful movies that broke box-office records across the globe. Whenever a series of this magnitude ends, many pop culture observers will begin to ask how critics responded to the film and if the anticipation for the final installment was worth all the hype.

According to the popular film review website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 46 percent positive rating, which is the percentage of critics who reviewed the film and thought it was good. That leaves 54 percent of the reviewers who didn't like it so much. This kind of split is on par with reviews of the original "Twilight" and "Eclipse," though "New Moon" and "Breaking Dawn Part 1" have significantly lower positive ratings.

This kind of critical split is not surprising, since the original books by Stephenie Meyer also received mixed reviews when they were initially published. The novels were adapted by screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg, who had previously penned the script for the Channing Tatum vehicle "Step Up." Rosenberg did not veer very far from the source material, though she did tease a surprise towards the end of "Breaking Dawn Part 2" that fans of the books will be able to point out right away. If a series of books has critics split on its merits, then it seems logical that the film adaptations would be equally split.

The funny thing about film critics is that they are not always in sync with moviegoers, who decide what lives or dies at the box office with their purchasing power. On Rotten Tomatoes, members rate each movie themselves. The website then takes the average of all these ratings and produces an audience score that goes right next to the overall critic score.

For "Breaking Dawn Part 2," the audience score is a whopping 88 percent, nearly twice the critic score. One could argue that the most ardent fans of the series, who call themselves "twi-hards," are artificially inflating the score to make the movie seem better. This could be true, although twi-hards are more likely to concern themselves over the patched-up romance between stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson than to try to get a better online score for the film. With a box-office take of over $141 million in its opening weekend alone, fans clearly don't care about the mixed reviews.

Now that it has been established that critical reception is mixed, it is time to figure out whether the film was worth the months of hype. The answer to this question is not a simple one, because it largely depends on whom you ask. A critic who panned the movie likely didn't think that it was worth the buildup, whereas a twi-hard probably thinks it should be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. The disparity between opinions makes it hard to answer a question that is so subjective.

One thing that is not based on opinions, though, is box-office receipts. Over Thanksgiving, the film took in an additional $64 million, as plenty of fans were out of school and able to take in another screening. With that holiday money, the movie inched toward the $200 million mark just a week into its release. Those figures don't even include the rest of the Thanksgiving weekend, which is sure to be bolstered further by kids being out of school.

With numbers like that and strong figures coming in from overseas releases, if you ask Summit Entertainment, the distributor of the film, representatives would likely say that the film was worth the hype. The entire series was released by Summit, and the company is probably wishing right about now the Meyer would write another book in her popular saga. Meyer has released a new tome recently, but it is not based on "Twilight" or any of its characters.

In the end, the film "Breaking Dawn Part 2" more than made back its budget and will probably earn millions more once it hits DVD shelves. It appears to have been worth the hype for all involved, even for critics who didn't particularly like the movie. In reviewing the film, they got plenty of fans and interested parties to come to their websites or buy their magazines to get the critics' take, so even if "Breaking Dawn Part 2" was not their cup of tea, the film was likely worth the hype for critics as well.