Thinking it over, I'm leaning toward the idea that it was the individuals working on components of the movie who brought out its best parts. Rather than looking at what the whole vision for the movie was, I like to look at what these individuals did. All of the actors, even the ones with just one or two lines, were completely committed. The special effects were, finally, just right. The running effects weren't distracting, but simply conveyed what they were supposed to convey. I wasn't ever really thinking about how the animation on the wolves was--I was just watching.
Being used to the dialogue being very different from the books, I was happy to find some of the great, silly quotes already in the first parts of the movie. And while I was disappointed that neither Part 1 or 2 seemed to show how painful and long the transformation is, and while the guy-on-the-cliff sequence was a little odd, the opening scenes overall showed what we needed to see. Bella now has super-heightened senses; Bella gets tempted; Bella resists; life goes on.
Most of the shots of Renesmee as a young baby were just slightly disappointing from the effects standpoint; I was expecting to be wowed, but I'm not sure the quality was that amazing. Still, the effect got better as she got older, and I don't know how anyone could complain about the casting of Mackenzie Foy. Though Renesmee is missing from a couple of scenes, overall she was right.
This movie moved pretty quickly and steadily for me, especially the first time. This is probably also since it is the shortest of the five--though I do think they could make made it a few minutes longer to include some more story points here and there. So I'll just skip along to "the scene."And once again, do not keep reading if you haven't seen the movie.
We had all heard that there was "something" about the final scene, "something" that made all audiences, even the carved-in-stone movie critics, gasp. So I guessed about what it might be. Then during the movie, I kept on wondering if it had happened yet. When Alice kicked Aro, I asked, "Was that it?" When we saw Carlisle's head, "Was that it?" Nope. And they left us no room for hope: not only do we see Carlisle's head, but also his body in flames. I thought maybe Stephenie had agreed to kill Carlisle; it's dramatic and all. But then everyone started dying.
And nothing can beat that moment in the theatre. Since I saw the movie early in the morning (8 in the morning, to be exact) and in the Cine Capri (the bigger theatre Harkins has, which I prefer to the even bigger IMAX), the theatre was nowhere near crowded. But the group of us just still shared in our two types of gasps. The huge sighs of relief came from the book-readers; the gasps came from the movie-watchers-only.
And it's such a clever trick they gave us. It allowed them to have that huge battle scene that other franchises get to finish with but wouldn't really have been appropriate here. Yet while it does this, it stays within the book; it doesn't change anything but perspective. And while it would have been difficult to re-feel in the movie the anxiety Bella goes through when she thinks they are going to fail, so all of that anxiety gets taken and placed into this one final scene instead. Just as Bella is, in a way, tricked by Alice, so is the audience tricked by the filmmakers. Oh, yes, and the scene is also a sort of reminder to fans of Breaking Down--the manuscript Stephenie wrote, not intending it to be the actual story, where everyone either died or came to some other terrible end.
I still think Twilight is my favorite of the movies. But this one was enjoyable, balanced and perhaps even simple (which I mean in a good way--and maybe in an ironic way since it ends with so many characters in that final scene). Echoes of other movies helped this one move full circle: the scenery in the opening montage, the echoes of previous music scores, etc. A nice way to end the series.