The conclusion of the Twilight Saga actually has quite bit going for it. No longer do we get to snicker at talking wolves or sparkly vampires, and the cinematography by Guillermo Navarro (Pan’s Labyrinth) is actually pretty stunning in parts.

The cast has matured substantially over the years, too, and even Kristen Stewart is finally given something more exciting to do than stand around with mopey eyes and a quivering lower lip.

But the one thing it can’t shake is the horribly campy screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg (and novel by Stephenie Meyer). And it’s that that ultimately keeps Breaking Dawn Part 2 from giving the franchise the send off that (at least some people think) it deserves.

If, for some reason, you need a refresher on the plot, the story left off with human Bella (Stewart) becoming pregnant by vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) and giving birth to half-and-halfie Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy) before becoming a full-fledged vampire herself.

The menacing, Italian-based Volturi vampire clan find out about the child, and, assuming she is an immortal (which is a strict no-no in vampire circles), they set off to wage war against Edward, Bella, and their extended family.

That’s about all that can be said without giving away too much, especially when it comes to a pretty significant third-act twist that will either leave Twi-hards frustrated or elated (yes, it’s that polarizing).

Director Bill Condon, who shot Parts 1 and 2 back to back, does have a flair for the dramatic. Not too many people can make seemingly endless scenes of people standing in all four corners of a room and talking seem interesting, but he actually does here. And the aforementioned twist is honestly one of the most pulse-pounding sequences in the entire franchise.

It’s Rosenberg’s flair for the melodramatic, though, that keeps Part 2 from being on a level with, say, the third entry in the franchise, Eclipse— widely regarded as the best of the bunch. Even the best actors at work today (which Stewart, Pattinson, et al are not) would be hard-pressed to rise above the clich├ęs and drivel that dominate the proceedings… or the blatant product placement (Volvo, Jansport, and Steinway are all spotlighted gratuitously).

On the plus side, none of this really matters at all. Twilight fans, by and large, will be as giddy as a kid at a birthday party throughout the two hours that bring the saga to a rollicking close. There are even some fun (and funny) moments to show that no one is taking this thing more seriously that it deserves.

As movies go, Part 2 could have been a whole lot more, sure, but as the sun sets on one of the most popular franchises in film history, those who have a vested interest will feel a pretty good bit of satisfaction that their beloved Edward and Bella are forever in their happy place.

Everyone else? Well, they’re probably staying as far away from movie theaters that they can this weekend.

You can’t blame either one.

2.5/5 stars