Writer Melissa Rosenberg faced a serious dilemma in adapting Stephenie Meyer's last book in the "Twilight" series into the screenplay for "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2." Staying true to the conclusion of the story of Edward (Robert Pattinson), Bella (Kristen Stewart), Jacob (Taylor Lautner) and the whole Cullen gang would leave the film with as much bite as a toothless vampire.
Not only does the book lack a big dramatic action scene, a huge chunk of the storyline was already used to make "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1."
Rosenberg, with Meyer's help, came up with a clever solution. It's impossible to talk about their approach without revealing major spoilers, but it's safe to say that how well the legions of fans accept their solution will be the difference between this ending ranking as a howling success or a pale finale.
Also missing in this film is the offbeat love triangle that's been the focus of the earlier films.
In "Part 2," Edward and Bella are not only newlyweds but proud parents of bouncing baby Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy) who, because of her odd DNA, grows and matures at an incredible rate. Jacob has now shifted his focus from Bella to Renesmee, which will eventually lead to some awkward Thanksgiving meals.
With no love triangle to create tension, the majority of the production is devoted to rounding up fellow vampires -- the most intriguing played by Lee Pace -- who can witness that Renesmee's not the threat that the crotchety ruling Volturi gang thinks she is. If the Cullens can't come up with enough witnesses, the child will be destroyed by the ruling vampires.
Director Bill Condon manages to keep the tempo of the film at a solid pace and stages the Rosenberg/Meyer story twist with great energy. That actually makes up for several comical miscues -- from Bella going on a beastly hunt in a dress more suited for a dance floor to the computer created images of baby Renesmee that are so bad the infant becomes the creepiest character in the entire "Twilight" series.
Fans have loyally turned out to watch the romantic exploits of the trio. Even if Bella had gone hunting in lederhosen and a tutu and the baby had been played by a Muppet, "Breaking Dawn -- Part 2" would be a box office hit.
How big a hit will hinge entirely on how Twihards accept the way the second half of the book has been adapted.
"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2": rated PG-13 for language, war violence. Stars Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Michael Sheen. Directed by Bill Condon. Running time: 1 hour, 55 minutes. Grade: B Theaters and times for this movie | Other movie reviews
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559)441-6355, email@example.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.