The Twilight saga is about to come to a thundering conclusion — and we just saw the beginning of the end. We were treated to a sneak peek of the first seven minutes of Breaking Dawn Part 2, and they were both thrilling and amazing. Doubts: Banished.
The new movie picks up right where the last movie left off — with some pretty intense action, and an inside view of what it's like to be a vampire. It's a giddy ride.
The big surprise at the start of Breaking Dawn Part 2 is Bella's eyes. We start out seeing her suddenly blood-red eyes in her pale face — and then we see the world through her eyes. Vampire vision! She can see every drop of dew, every dust mite, every speck of grass in the carpet — and every word of a book that's all the way across the room.
Bella sees Edward lifting his hand to touch her and looks at her own hand... then they finally touch each other. Over all this, there's a sweet glittery pop song playing. "So beautiful," "Edward says. Now they're the same temperature, and they're equally pasty and white. Bella hugs Edward so hard she hurts him, and he winces with pain. "It's your turn not to break me," he says. Bella wants to see her daughter — but Edward says she's new to her vampire urges, and she needs to hunt and feed before seeing Renesmee.
And then there's a hunting sequence that's pretty terrific. We get to see vampire vision of all the shit in the woods. Bella runs and everything else is a blur around her, and it's like a more up-to-date, zoomier version of Bullet Time. She jumps off a waterfall, and just sort of hangs there in mid air. You really feel the excitement and joy of vamphood. Finally, Bella pauses — and she can hear all the forest creatures chattering. And there's a deer. Bella poises to kill Bambi's mom — but then she sees a human rock-climber, off in the distance. He's cut himself, and she sees his blood. Bella runs to him, and climbs like a demon — but Edward stops her before she can go in for the kill. Instead, she runs back to the deer... which is about to be eaten by a mountain lion. As the lion pounces on the deer, Bella pounces on the lion, killing it instantly. Edward's impressed that she's not only able to keep from killing a human, but also completed the hunt on her own. Many mature vampires would have trouble with that.
Finally, they go back to vamp headquarters — and Jacob is there. Jacob seems relaxed and friendly. He tells Bella: "I didn't expect you to seem so 'you' except for the creepy eyes." Bella tells Jacob to keep away, because she is still learning to control her bloodthirsty instincts. But Jacob says it's safer for the baby to see how Bella does with Jacob first.
"Since when do you care so much about the baby?" Bella asks. Jacob doesn't quite know how to answer that question. Instead, he simply tells her to "take a whiff." She smells him, and says: "I can see everyone's been talking about. Jake you really do stink."
Jacob laughs. "You guys really look great together." Bella and Edward hug.
"Want to come meet our daughter?" Edward asks Bella.
Later, we saw another brief clip, where Bella's dad is going to visit her, and she's nervous. Bella is putting in contact lenses to make herself look normal, and the Cullens are all coaching her on how to act like a fake human. Like, move slowly. Try to blink a few times a minute, don't sit up straight, and pretend to be breathing. "I got it," says Bella. "Move, blink, slouch." But when Bella tries to act human, she looks like "a cartoon character," as Jacob puts it.
After the footage, there was an audience Q&A. The most interesting question was when someone asked Twilight author Stephenie Meyer if she would ever do anything with the abortive Midnight Sun novel — or write anything else from Edward's perspective. Meyer seemed distinctly put out by the question, and finally passed it off to Robert Pattinson.
"Are you going to write a novel from Edward's perspective?" Meyer asked Pattinson. "They want to know." Pattinson looked somewhat gob-smacked by the idea that he would write Edward's autobiography, and didn't really respond. Meyer asked the crowd, "You'd like it better if it was him, right?" she asks the crowd, which also didn't quite know how to respond to that. Meyer added that she's been doing vampires forever, and "I've been kind of burned out on vampires."
Also, we were at a press conference with Meyer, Renesmee actor McKenzie Foy, plus stars Taylor Lautner (Jacob), Rob Pattinson (Edward) and Kristen Stewart (Bella), and all the actors who play the Cullen clan.
I asked if this was the movie where Edward and Jacob become friends, and maybe even learn to love each other as family. "We've always had that relationship," jokes Lautner.
"I sacrifice my daughter to him," says Pattinson. "That is love. Yeah, this one is basically a love story between me and Jacob." He laughs.
And then Lautner gave a slightly more serious answer: "I think it is a little bit different, the realationship between all three of us — because it's always been this complicated triangle, and now it's a square, and it's become much less complicated."
Actually, says Kristen Stewart, they become "a perfect circle. A family."
The Rise of Vampire Bella
One big point of discussion during the press conference was Bella's transformation in the final movie. Stewart has always played Bella as an "awkward, clumsy, relatable" character, says Lautner, and now she's playing her as a sleek, powerful vampire instead. Meyer said that seeing Bella as a vampire was a dream come true — including the whole aspect of her vampire body being an amazing sports car, and going, "Let's break it in." That was always her favorite part in the book, too.
In particular, there's one scene in Breaking Dawn, Part 2 between Emmett Cullen and Bella, where they're "rough-housing" and she beats him, because she's stronger than he is. Kellan Lutz was really looking forward to filming that scene since the first movie, because finally there's a scene between Emmett and Bella, and a guy who's three times the size of Kristen Stewart gets his ass kicked.
And playing Bella as a vampire was physically challenging, says Stewart — moving very deliberately, as if she's already thought through every action before it happens. She borrowed a little bit from all the other vampire performances she'd been watching since the first movie. And after the first day of shooting, Stewart went to Meyer and said, "How am I supposed to sound like windchimes, you jerk?" She had to figure out what a speaking voice that sounds like windchimes would actually be like.
In the final movie, "Bella's a full-on vampire. The human aspects are completely gone" from the story, says Stewart. With nothing relatable and human to grab onto, she was worried that the final movie would be alienating — but Condon managed to make it very emotional. And the final moments make her cry every time she watches them. "We do really cool things with the ending," Stewart adds.
Someone asked about sex scenes in the new movie. "We're supposed to have mind-boggling other-worldly sex" in Breaking Dawn part 1, says Stewart. "But we tried to keep the first one like sweet, it was about discovery. Nothing about this series is raunchy. But in the second one, we just wanted to be animals. We're not humans anymore. How do you do that? We tried, and they told us it was rated R, and we were like —" she snaps her fingers.
The imprinting discussion
During the audience Q&A in Hall H, Lautner said his favorite scene to shoot was the one where he finally explains to Bella that he's imprinted on her daughter — because it was so intense. And Stewart said she always imagined that Bella would throw Jacob about 100 feet when she heard that information. But they shot the scene in a small space, so she was at a loss how to react. Director Bill Condon told her just to raise her voice.
And McKenzie Foy says her favorite scene was "riding the Jacob wolf."
During the press conference before the panel, Pattison and Meyer talked a lot about how they argued over what Edward thinks and feels, during the early movies — but after a few movies, Pattinson felt he internalized the character of Edward to the point where he no longer knew where he began and Edward ended.
There was some talk about the possibility of rebooting the Twilight movies — Pattinson would like to see other actors play those roles, while Stewart wants to see the movies left to stand on their own. But Meyer says it'll be at least 20 years before anybody could do a fresh re-telling of Twilight — and she feels sorry for any actors who try to live up to the performances of Pattinson, Stewart and Lautner.
Also, Pattinson joked that a possible next Twilight novel could deal with Edward and Bella getting divorced, and having a Mr. and Mrs. Smith-type situation where they're at odds.
Someone asked about The Host, Meyer's adult science fiction novel, which is soon to be a major movie. "The Host was a palate cleanser for me," says Meyer. But don't hold your breath for any more Host books — it sounds like she's not really interested in writing any more.
Peter Facinelli reminisced about all the time all the Cullen actors spent rehearsing together for the first Twilight movie, and trying to learn the family dynamic — including a session at a warehouse, playing indoor baseball together. Plus they took something called "cat classes" — presumably to learn to move like cats?
Breaking Dawn felt like one movie rather than two, says Jackson Rathbone. And Bill Condon was an amazing director to work with, who set a "breezy, effortless" tone with an amazing level of calm despite all of the craziness.
When someone asks during the press conference what the actors will miss from filming Twilight, Peter Facinelli pipes up with, "I miss the woods. Sometimes I go on weekend trips and wander through the woods, just reminiscing. And I put my contact lenses in. Is that weird?"
The actors did a "dance-off" during the final fight scene to surprise Bill Condon during the filming. "It was like after school club," says Facinelli. "Like, 'we're meeting at the lunch tent at noon.'" There was intricate choreography — and Michael Sheen, who plays one of the Volturi, was doing crazy moves.