Best Twilight movie yet: Breaking Dawn 2 review

So, the Twimoms and I got home from the movies and lunch just in time to get the kids from school.

Yeah, we’re old like that. 10:30 a.m. screening of Breaking Dawn Part 2 followed by Red Robin. (Yum!) And, of course, lots of discussion and analysis.

I gotta tell you, I’m not disappointed.

Bella is a beautiful vampire who somehow (now that she’s virtually living stone) has more emotion and life in her face than she ever did as a living teenager. Edward has developed into a doting father and devoted husband who recognizes his wife as an equal partner.

And the Volturi – well, let’s just say they finally get a taste of their own medicine.

Of course, there were some in the party, and in the theater judging by the hooting and cat-calls, who particularly enjoyed the scene where Jacob reveals his wolf nature to Charlie. First he strips to his undies, then he changes to werewolf. I dunno… I just keep thinking about my kids’ favorite move, Sharkboy and Lavagirl, which makes lusting after Taylor Lautner is just plain creepy.

However, watching Charlie nearly stroke out when this kid he’s known his whole life suddenly turns into a giant dog is pretty awesome. Everyone seems to have ramped up the caliber of their acting for the final installment.

I’m debating how much to tell you – because I’m sure this will be public soon – but there are two surprise endings, in my opinon.

To tell you the one would be to spoil the ending. Let’s just say the fight scene is… unexpected…

The second surprise is that everyone is credited at the end of this movie, all the way back to the very first Twilight film, all the main characters from all the movies are listed and shown at the end, from the high school kids, to the members of the wolf pack, and even Bella’s mom. It is a wonderful tribute to the actors who have been a part of the journey and it felt a little bit like a gift to us, the fans who have been along for the whole ride.

I am sure I’ll be seeing Breaking Dawn 2 in the theater again (can we go tonight, sweetie?). And it will be on my wish list when it is released on DVD!

I’ve been writing about Twilight for a while – mostly because I was blown away by the way so may of the scenes and characters could be adapted as illustrations of Biblical truths. Curious? Check out my book Glitter in the Sun: A Bible Study Searching for Truth in the Twilight Saga here.

Hunger Games vs. Twilight = Apples vs. Oranges

I doubt many have escaped the relentless buzz surrounding Hunger Games the movie, opening March 23 here in the U.S. – and the increasingly tired comparisons being drawn between this dytopic series and the last blockbuster young adult novel/movie franchise, Twilight.

For clarity’s sake, these are the points these two series have in common.

Hunger Games producer says comparison makes no sense

1) They are both hugely popular book series.

2) They feature a teenage girl and two teenage boys between whom she feels she must choose.

3) Ummmm… yeah. I think that’s about it.

I have explained before why the Twilight Saga has struck such a deep chord among it’s mostly female audience, and it’s all about the love. Some have analyzed The Hunger Games the same way, calling the charismatic hunter Gale the embodiment of Eros (romantic) love and the gentle baker Peeta the representative of Agape (unconditional) love. While I really like that analogy – that is only a minor theme in the series, otherwise we would not keep reading all those pages where neither of the young men are involved.

For those not up to speed, here are the synopsis. In Twilight, human girl Bella Swan finds herself torn between the enigmatic vampire Edward Cullen and the dangerously passionate werewolf Jacob Black. Thematically, her choice is between Edward’s eternal love and Jacob’s unconditional love.

The Hunger Games are set in a future 75 years after America has been destroyed by civil war. The resulting nation is divided into 13 districts ruled with an iron hand by the capitol city called Panum. Each year two teenagers are selected from each district to compete in the Hunger Games as “tributes”. The winner is the one who survives. District residents are required to watch their children die in the arena while residents of the Capitol make lavish bets on their favorites. Katniss Everdeen volunteers to replace her younger sister who had been pulled in the drawing. She leaves behind her younger sister, widowed mother and the handsome Gale, her best friend and hunting partner. The male “tribute” is the baker’s son, Peeta, whom she barely knows. Peeta has always known Katniss and has loved her from afar since childhood. Yet, in order to survive, they will eventually have to see each other as the enemy.

When I read these books the pieces of popular culture that kept coming to mind were not love stories. Twilight was the furthest thing from my mind. They were pieces of literature like Orwell’s 1984, Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery, and the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger movie The Running Man in which criminals could earn their freedom by competing to the death through a deadly maze. I was reminded of stories in which violence and resistance defined and refined the characters. In spite of the incredibly violent content, Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins is decrying the increasingly violent aspects of our culture.

Mennonite pastor Marty Troyer nails the pacifist theme throughout The Hunger Games trilogy in this excellent Pangea Blog post. He explains how Collins drags us through the pain inflicted by Dominant Violence, used by those in power to keep their power. And how the resulting Resistant or Revolutionary Violence can become just as bad. The problem with Resistant Violence, as our heroine Katniss learns, is that it very easily can become Dominant Violence itself.

In fact, the most jarring scenes in the series are when Katniss acts out violently against the powers manipulating her: shooting Coin instead of President Snow and voting for a final Hunger Game featuring the formerly exempt children of the privileged Capital residents.

And it challenges us today. Last summer saw the rise of the 99%, protesting against corporate rule and cultural inequalities. Just this past week the Kony 2012 campaign against a revolutionary fighter whose violence surpasses inhumane, calls for action – but what action is most appropriate? The strength of peaceful resistance has been on my mind lately since reading Blessed are the Peacemakers by Daniel Buttry. This collection of biographies demonstrates exactly how dangerous intentional peacemaking can be, but how very worth the sacrifice and difficult choices can be in the end.

Patterson vs. Robertson – Edward wins

Is there ever a target too big to aim at?

What if it’s an internationally recognized televangelist/politician?

Here’s the deal. Pat Robertson (not to be confused with Rob Patterson – although that would be hysterically ironic in this case) has declared the Twilight movies to be demonic. See the clip here at The Huffington Post for his exact answer to the question.

I couldn’t just let that go, you know? Because unlike the stereotypical, old-school vampire that was truly the evil cross-breed of all things occult, horror and overwrought Harlequin romance, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight novels instead illustrates love that is unconditional in Jacob, eternal in Edward and warm in the families portrayed. These are the characteristics of God’s love.

Happily, I have friends with bigger platforms than mine so hop on over here, to Read the Spirit to read my full response to Pat Robertson’s ill-educated response to a leading question.

The Official Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

The Bible According to Bella

New book examines the Twilight Saga and what it teaches about God

Monroe, MI – In a bold move, author Jane Wells has hijacked the most popular cultural touchstone of recent years andturned it on its head. With insight, humor and great compassion Wells uses scenes from the hugely popular Twilight Saga, a four-book and soon to be five-movie juggernaut, to illustrate just why the saga is so popular.

Glitter in the Sun front cover

Glitter in the Sun

Glitter in the Sun: A Bible Study Searching for Truth in the Twilight Saga (November 14, 2011), came out of a women’s Bible study Wells taught at her local coffee shop. While the group came from different denominations and backgrounds, everyone had read and enjoyed the Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer – and soon Wells found herself illustrating theological truths with scenes from the series. It quickly became obvious to her that the Twilight phenomenon was a rare window in time when huge portions of the population share a common ground that can be turned into a ladder toward God.

“I believe Twilight is about vampires to the same degree Romeo and Juliet is about Italians,” Wells said. “It’s not about who the characters are, but about what they represent. We don’t debate Team Edward and Team Jacob because they are vampire and werewolf, but because one represents eternal love and the other represents selfless love.”

Glitter in the Sun is set up as a 16-week Bible study. Each chapter begins with a scene from one of the Twilight books or films then delves into Scripture addressing the truth captured in the fictional scene. Many chapters contain illustrations from Wells’ own life experiences in areas such as self-control, faith and the pain of spiritual growth. Small group study guides are included for each chapter.

Glitter in the Sun can be purchased at Amazon.com.

Biography

Jane Wells is a wife, mother and writer whose primary passion beyond her family is helping others understand the deep

Jane Wells

Author Jane Wells

and abiding love of God for his creation. Her writing experience includes newspaper journalism, freelance inspirational magazine articles and Bible studies.

Wells has a countdown to the release date of the next Twilight movie, Breaking Dawn: Part 1 on her blog and is nearly giddy anticipating her fellow Twi-moms’ traditional opening night party.

For more information visit www.glitterinthesun.com. Contact Jane Wells via e-mail at jane.wells@comcast.net, or by phone at (734)790-0201.

Careful, or your dreams may be contagious!

I have BHAG.

I know. It sounds terrible, doesn’t it?

But it’s not. It is the most hopeful thing in my possession and I can’t even put my hands on it yet.

It is my Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

“How big,” you ask? Try this on for size.

I want to make Glitter in the Sun a New York Times best seller in the month of October.

“Whoa!” Right?

I have been assured by people who want to sell me a $3,000 self-help program that this is entirely do-able. Since the woman who pioneered the program isn’t any more intelligent than I am, and she did it without knowing it was possible, I’ve already got a leg up. Besides, I definitely don’t feel like forking out a metric butt-ton of money I don’t have yet.

This is how it works. I find every blog, mailing list and twitter influencer with any sort of tie to my topic, so that would be Twilight fans, pastors and youth pastors looking for new teaching material, small group leaders and people looking for new bible studies. And, I expect, other groups I haven’t run across yet but I’m keeping my eyes open.

I read their blogs, newsletters and twitter posts and (this part is key) I find a way to be useful to them.

Then, in late September, I suggest another win/win/win (them/me/their audience), a review, contest and giveaway of Glitter in the Sun and free swag for anyone who buys stuff from them. The secret is to have swag that doesn’t cost much but looks super cool, like computer wallpaper to match the gorgeous cover artwork or digital video clips of me talking about the book’s inspiration and lessons. Anything I don’t have to pay shipping and handling for.

Then people buy the book, word spreads, numbers climb and I’m on Good Morning American with Ann Curry! Whoohoo!

Of course, there’s about a bajillion steps between here and there, so I’ve got my work cut out for me. Then there is the pessimist’s question, what if I fall short? I still win, as does everyone else who buys and reads the book and learns that not only is God love, but God loves them.

Do you have BHAG? What are you doing now to get there?

Can’t wait for Breaking Dawn? Get your fix, part 2

I know you’re probably still in the middle of Anointed by Sarah Witenhafer, but you must plan ahead. The next book on your To Be Read pile really should be Ravenmarked, book one of The Taurin Chronicles, by Amy Rose Davis – if you’re serious about keeping the Breaking Dawn release date anxiety at bay.

Ravenmarked is not exactly apples to apples with the Twilight Saga. Ravenmarked is high fantasy along the lines of J.R.R. Tolkein, as opposed to the urban fantasy/paranormal romance setting of Twilight. However, for epic romances and star crossed lovers, Amy’s got your fix. Also like Stephenie Meyer, Amy Rose Davis writes a thick book. (“You keep saying that like it’s a good thing.” “Yeah? Well. It is.”)

Mairead is about 20 years old, and has spent most of her life in the care of the nuns who began preparing her for her position as the rightful heir to the throne of Taurin. However, trouble has come to the land. The Regent, Braeden, who by law only holds the throne for the rightful heir, has declared himself king. The ancient earth magic that protects the sacred relics from misuse is weakening, and Mairead is sent to the far north in an attempt to save her life.

Her escort and protector is Connor SilverAir, a half-breed human who has been marked as a Raven. The Ravenmarked are divine avengers, appointed to serve justice no matter how violently that may be. The romantic tension comes when Connor falls in love with Mairead – but believes his Ravenmark prevents him from ever obtaining peace or happiness in life.

My two favorite characters in this book, though, are secondary. One is the mystic woman, Rhiannon, who helped raise Connor and just happens to appear again in his greatest need. Her faith is complete and  unshakable. She literally challenges evil to confront her, she is so secure in her place in the safety of her god.

My other favorite is Igraine, the Eiryan princess. She and Mairead were at the convent together. Unlike Mairead, an orphan, Igraine is a recognized princess from a neighboring kingdom there to avoid an arranged marriage. She is a political animal who never intended to take her vows of service to the church. When Braeden takes the throne by force, Igraine uses her beauty and her brains to save both herself and the sisters. And although she comes to realize her role in the fate of their world may be greater than that of becoming the queen of Taura, she continues to wrestle against divine will in an attempt to exercise her own.

These two women encapsulate my spiritual walk. Sometimes I feel as invincible as Rhiannon, secure in God’s love, invincible in his armor. Other times I fight fate, determined to do things my way, forgetting God’s way is more peaceful evenin the midst of struggle and His success more fulfilling.

Ravenmarked is currently only available in digital form through Amazon.com, B&N and Smashwords, which you can access through Amy’s blog, http://modicumoftalent.com/. Amy is currently editing Bloodbonded, book 2 in the series, and has several other books available as well.

Can’t wait for Breaking Dawn? Get your paranormal fix here

So, yes, MTV debuted the trailer for Breaking Dawn part 1. And yes, I’ve watched it more than once. And yes, I intend to reread the whole Saga before the release date of November 18, probably in one long marathon session starting on or about November 10th.

So don’t plan on talking to me that week.

“But,” I can hear you asking yourself, “what to do until then? I can’t spend all that time in the ‘real world.’ I’ll go stark, raving mad!”

Ah, do not fear! I have some suggestions for you. Starting today, over three Mondays, I’m going to suggest three fantastic authors whose books have more than filled the Stephenie Meyer hole in my imagination.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to my friend Sarah Witenhafer. Sarah is audacious. She read the Twilight Saga, liked it a lot, but thought it could be done better. As the penultimate TwiMom, she decided to pen a book for her own demographic. The result is the page-turning Tamed, its sequel Anointed, and a third book currently in the works.

In this series we meet and follow Reign Phillips, who recently earned her PhD in ancient languages. She meets Damon Sarantos, the owner of a curious piece of antiquity that he seems to have an unusually deep connection to. As they fall in love, Reign begins to realize that Damon is more than – or maybe less than – human. There is action, mystery, romance and betrayal – and some seriously freaky supernatural stuff too. Plus, the books are over 400 pages each so they kept me happy for hours and hours.

What I love most about this series is how Sarah weaves Christian faith throughout. Reign, for instance, is a devout Christian. But she is far from perfect. There are no prairie dresses and demure hair covers here (in fact, Reign keeps a gun tucked into her tall, black boots). Reign screws up. And she receives as well as gives grace. I think it is the best example of how a Christian life should look that I have ever read.

Tamed and Anointed are available from Amazon.com and at www.SarahWitenhafer.com.