"Comic-Book Vampire Immortality Minus God"
THE TWILIGHT SAGA is definitely a major pop culture phenomenon. As such, its story of romantic love, human empowerment, danger, immortality, and becoming an adult has attracted many young fans, including pre-teen children. Thus, it’s very important for Christians to understand the movies based on the trilogy by Mormon writer Stephenie Meyer.
The third book in the trilogy has been turned into two movies, BREAKING DAWN – PART 1 and BREAKING DAWN – PART 2. PART 2 has finally come to theaters.
In PART 2, the story’s heroine, Bella, has finally given birth to her daughter, Renesme. Because she was born before Bella became a vampire, Renesme is half human from her mother and half vampire from her father, Edward. As the movie later explains, Renesme can either drink blood (human or animal) or eat human food to survive, or both. Renesme is able to grow several years in several months or less.
Meanwhile, Edward and Bella are enjoying Bella’s newborn vampire powers. Her vampire abilities include having superhuman strength, being able to run very fast, and jumping very high and far. Also, each vampire has his or her own special power. One vampire, Alice, has the ability to see into the future. Renesme’s vampire side allows her to read people’s minds and show them what she’s thinking or experiencing, much like Mr. Spock on STAR TREK. Another vampire has the power to use the four elements to attack or defend, like some kind of comic book superhero. Apparently, Bella has the beginnings of a power to shield herself and others from vampire attacks.
Two things upset Edward and Bella’s happy family life.
First, Bella’s Indian werewolf friend, Jacob, who used to have the hots for Bella before she married Edward the vampire, has “imprinted” on Renesme accidentally, and vice versa. Jacob denies that this means Renesme and he will eventually be lifelong “mates.” (SPOILER ALERT: Strangely, a short scene between Jacob and Edward at the end suggests that Jacob is lying here.) Both Edward and Bella are upset about this, but the imprinting process is beyond Jacob’s control. (In the books, besides finding one’s soul mate, the imprinting process reportedly means that the two imprinted “people,” werewolves, or supernatural beings can’t stay away from each other and will do anything for them.)
Secondly, the Volturi, an elite coven of human-feeding vampires (Bella, Edward, and Edward’s immediate family have decided to give up human blood and only feed on animal blood) have found out about Renesme. Led by the creepy, power-mad Aro and his mean brother, Caius, this powerful vampire coven enforces the laws of the vampire world to keep that world hidden from human society. They think Bella and Edward have committed the ultimate vampire crime of turning a child into a vampire. This means that the child vampire will remain an uncontrollable, immortal, murderous child vampire. Such a monster could expose the vampire world to human society. In the past, Aro and his coven have killed such vampire children and any vampire that brought them into existence. They don’t know, however, that Bella’s daughter was actually born and that Bella was still human when she was conceived.
In reaction to Aro’s intentions, Edward, Bella and their friends seek out friendly vampires to witness the fact that Bella’s daughter is half-human and poses no threat. It’s a race against time as Aro and his allies decide to go to Edward, Bella and their daughter and kill them. Aro will also kill anyone who stands in their way, plus anyone who dares to stand in their way.
Though photographed beautifully, the first two-thirds of BREAKING DAWN – PART 2 are rather slow, clunky and episodic. It’s also more than a little corny in a few places. However, the climactic confrontation between the good vampires and the bad vampires is pretty tense and exciting. There are also several nice twists, including a really good one at the very end. Thus, fans and average moviegoers probably will really like the ending. Even so, non-fans probably will get lost in the middle.
Thematically and philosophically, BREAKING DAWN – PART 2 presents a mishmash of occult legends, superhero antics, romantic fluff, allusions to Mormon theology, battles between good and evil, and a violent plot about achieving immortality without God and Jesus Christ. This makes the whole TWILIGHT saga a mixed blessing with more bad than good in it.
First, PART 2 combines vampire and werewolf mythology with Mormon theology. For example, Bella, the story’s female heroine, yearns to become a supernatural, immortal creature like Edward, whom she views as a kind of God. Like his adopted vampire family, the Cullens, Edward has risen above his baser nature (he refuses to drink human blood anymore). Consequently, he and the Cullens are now able to pursue higher and higher intellectual and humanitarian ideals (the patriarch of Edward’s family, Carlisle, is a doctor who goes around healing people). This scenario is a metaphor for Mormon belief, which says that people can become immortal gods by rising above their sinful nature and pursuing good works.
Also, in both parts of BREAKING DAWN, much is made of the fact that Edward and Bella are made for one another. Also according to the story’s mythology, male werewolves imprint on their future mates, which establishes an unbreakable bond between them. Both these things fit in well with false Mormon theology, where women enter the celestial kingdom only through their husbands, who become the god of their own individual planet. In fact, according to heretical Mormon teaching, this is exactly what Jesus Christ is – the god of this planet — but not the God of the Whole Universe and whatever else may or may not exist beyond it.
Mormon theology is completely different from New Testament Christianity, which teaches that salvation and deliverance from sin and eternal life are free gifts from the one and only True God. These gifts come through belief in the vicarious atonement, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thus, good works are not a means of salvation or redemption. Instead, they are only an expression of our salvation in Christ. Faith, which is a gift from God, is the means by which human beings appropriate that salvation and start to have communion or fellowship with God through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. This occurs both here and in the afterlife in Heaven and when Jesus returns to establish the New Heaven and New Earth.
Mormonism is heretical because it violates these basic biblical truths taught by Jesus Christ and firmly accepted by His first disciples in the First and Second Centuries. Also, the Mormon Church, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, rejects the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, even though their unreliable Book of Mormon teaches the doctrine in passages lifted directly from the New Testament.
The good news is that most people seeing BREAKING DAWN – PART 2 and the other TWILIGHT movies probably won’t see these connections to Mormon theology. That doesn’t mean that the allusions to Mormonism in these movies are unimportant or nothing to take seriously.
Secondly, BREAKING DAWN – PART 2 also contains references to using occult powers to tell the future and read minds telepathically. These are placed in the context of the vampire characters having special powers, not unlike the super powers that popular comic book superheroes have. Even so, it’s an occult connection that warrants caution.
Thirdly, although BREAKING DAWN – PART 2 extols monogamous marriage and family, there’s a Romantic aspect to the love between Bella and Edward, the married heroine and hero. It strikes MOVIEGUIDE® as more of a feelings-based kind of romantic love. It’s also divorced from God and divorced from biblical truth. This fact doesn’t make the movie overtly Anti-God or Anti-Bible. Instead, the movie just seems non-religious or agnostic on questions about the existence of God and the truth of the Bible.
Fourthly, this non-religious quality to BREAKING DAWN – PART 2 is also the way the movie depicts the vampire immortality that Bella achieves. It too is divorced from God and the Bible, and from Jesus Christ. As a character said in the last PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movie, ON STRANGER TIDES, “Only God can grant eternal life!”
Fifthly, BREAKING DAWN – PART 2 has a plot that shows good battling evil. In the end, the good does win out. Also, the good guys try to find, and [SPOILER ALERT] achieve to a certain extent, a non-violent answer to overcoming evil. Regrettably, however, this answer or solution also involves using an occult power. Thus, the plot problem is solved partly by occult means. In addition, before this answer comes about, there’s a lot of violence in the plot. The violence includes a lot of decapitations of vampires. Apparently, the only way to really kill a vampire in THE TWILIGHT SAGA mythos is to chop off its head somehow and then burn its body.
All in all, therefore, BREAKING DAWN – PART 2 has some good things in it. So, it’s not overly abhorrent. Even so, it has enough problems to drive away discerning and media-wise viewers. Consequently, MOVIEGUIDE® recommends that families take this review and show their children and grandchildren why they probably should avoid THE TWILIGHT SAGA and its dangerous mixture of good and bad philosophy, theology, metaphysics, psychology, and morality. The bad elements of BREAKING DAWN – PART 2 are highly problematic. Also, the decapitations of vampires and scary parts are too much for most young teenagers and any pre-adolescent children. Extreme caution is advised.
(PaPaPa, RoRo, OO, FRFR, BB, L, VVV, S, N, M) Very strong mixed pagan worldview with strong Romantic feelings-based elements, strong occult content, some strong allusions to false Mormon theology about immortality and salvation, and some strong moral elements about good and evil, good stopping evil, heroic people trying to find a peaceful solution to conflict, and movie extols marriage and family but in a non-religious context with no redemptive content and no mention of God, religion, or Jesus Christ that MOVIEGUIDE® could tell on first viewing; about three or four relatively light obscenities; some decapitations of vampires in a big battle scene seem to be very strong, but otherwise lots of action violence and sometimes scary violence such as female vampire leaps onto mountain lion, intense hand-to-hand combat between vampires as they try to rip off each other’s heads, powerful vampire opens a crevasse with his fist and some vampires start to fall into it during battle, large wolves leap onto evil vampires and (mostly implied) start to tear into them, some decapitated vampires are burned with torch but nothing explicit shown as they burn, close-up of the head of a decapitated vampire as it dies, and flashback shot to a child vampire having blood around his lips in front of a visually obscured group of human corpses; implied marital sex in bedroom scene and some light references to that but nothing explicit, plus some passionate kissing and married couple lie in bed together after intercourse; upper male nudity; no alcohol use; no smoking or drugs; and, woman jumps to a conclusion and unintentionally bears a false witness to what she saw and is punished with death.
THE TWILIGHT SAGA movies come to a close with BREAKING DAWN – PART 2. In PART 2, Bella’s newborn half-human, half-vampire daughter starts to grow rapidly. Bella tests her new vampire powers and strength while enjoying her marriage to Edward, a vampire who only drinks animal blood. Their lives are in danger when an elite group of evil vampires learns about their daughter. The leader, Aro, is bent on killing the daughter, whom he considers an abomination. He also plans on executing Bella and Edward for bringing her into the world. The new family needs help from powerful friends (including Jacob the werewolf) to survive.
Though photographed beautifully, the first two-thirds of BREAKING DAWN – PART 2 are slow, clunky and episodic. It’s also a little corny in some places. However, the climactic confrontation between the good vampires and the bad vampires is pretty tense and exciting. There are also several nice twists. Even so, BREAKING DAWN – PART 2 is a mishmash of occult legends, superhero antics, romantic fluff, allusions to Mormon theology, and a violent plot about achieving immortality without God and Jesus Christ.