So here it is: the final installment of the Twilight saga, or "our long national nightmare," as I have come to think of it. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 picks up with former human Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) getting her first taste of vampire life, after her bloodsucker husband, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), saved her during the difficult childbirth that concluded Part 1. We see Bella get her first kill, but she returns home hardly mussed (perhaps she carries hand wipes and a hairbrush?), in a prime example of the series' continued upside-down thinking. Just as the Twilight films have obsessed over sex but swatted away sincere carnal desire, Part 2 sanitizes Bella's bloodlust while pebbling the ground with decapitated heads.
The plot kicks in when Bella and Edward's new progeny, Renesmee - half-vamp, half-human and weirdly reminiscent of baby Pubert from Addams Family Values (sans mustache) - is spied from afar by another vampire, who runs to tell the Volturi (the undead tribunal) that the Cullens bit a kid (a capital offense among vampires). Most of Part 2 concerns the Cullen clan's efforts to gather witnesses to attest that Renesmee is a hybrid before the Volturis arrive to exact a misguided punishment.
There's little wit or subtlety to screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg's scribblings, but Part 2 benefits from the removal of the will-they-or-won't-they-be-together question that weighs down the rest of the series. Here, Bella and Edward are practically super-glued together. They can't even enter a room without holding hands, because this is twu wuv. Nauseating as this is, it allows the film to address other concerns, such as the surprising maturation of the werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who's survived six years as a critical punching bag to emerge as one of the livelier actors in this go-round. He and Michael Sheen, returning with a delicious giggle as Volturi-in-Chief, seem in on the joke, but everyone else toes the line in this slavish, straight-faced adaptation.
Fan fiction. Those were the two words I couldn't shake while watching this final installment. Though Rosenberg stays on the beaten path of Stephenie Meyer's source novel (with a notable exception I won't spoil here), the movie seems as if it was assembled by an uber-fan, not an Oscar-winning filmmaker (Bill Condon). If the late-in-the-film montage of Bella and Edward's swooniest moments seems familiar, it's because you've seen the same supercut on YouTube already, spliced together by sighing girls who may now turn those editing chops toward more worthy endeavors. Kiddos: I'm sighing, too - from relief that it's all over now.