PLOT: Newly minted vampire Bella Swan fights for the future of her half-mortal child.
BOTTOM LINE: The teen vampire franchise finally gets the blood flowing in a fitting finale that may even keep non-fans entertained
CAST: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
WHEN/WHERE: Area theaters
After four soggy, self-serious films in as many years, "The Twilight Saga" is coming to an end -- and just when it was getting good!
Finally, "Breaking Dawn -- Part 2" pumps real life into this series, if only in its final third. That means an initial hour or so of soap-opera story line, which begins abruptly where "Part 1" left off, with newly minted vampire Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and her undead husband, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), fretting over their child, Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy).
"Part 2" is also the first time that Bella, a hitherto sulky and useless character, actually does something. She hunts, she fights and, in bed, she gives as good as she gets. ("You really were holding back before," she tells Edward.)
Stewart wears her blood-red vampire eyes well, and her newly mature beauty is striking.
But director Bill Condon, who revealed glimmers of mischief in "Part 1," is just setting us up for what may go down as one of the best pranks in cinema, a sudden explosion of outrageous and horrific violence that pushes the PG-13 rating to its edge.
The audacious narrative twists toy with fans' emotions with such sadistic glee that you can almost hear Condon cackling (or maybe that's Sheen).
"Part 2" is a big, bloody kiss to fans, with all the familiar faces (Billy Burke as Bella's endearing dad, Peter Facinelli as the dignified Carlisle Cullen), plus a yearbook ending (remember Anna Kendrick as Bella's chatty schoolmate?).
The first "Twilight" film that could get non-fans' hearts pumping turns out to be the last.