If there's a cinematic alchemy award to be given this year director Bill Condon deserves to take it home after magically turning the tedious Twilight franchise into entertainment gold. 2011's Part 1 was a horror camp romp that turned the supernatural love triangle — the naval gazing trio of Bella Edward and Jacob — on its head. Breaking Dawn - Part 2 continues the madcap exploration of a world populated by vampires and werewolves mining even more comedy thrills and genuine character moments out of conceit than ever before. The film occasionally sidesteps back into Edward and Bella's meandering romance (an evident hurdle of author Stephenie Meyer's source material) but the duller moments are overshadowed by the movie's nimble pace and playful attitude. Breaking Dawn - Part 2 will elicit laughs aplenty — but thankfully they're all on purpose.
Part 2 picks up immediately following the events of the first film Bella (Kristen Stewart) having been turned into a vampire by Edward (Robert Pattinson) to save her life after the torturous delivery of her half-human half-vampire child Renesmee. She awakes to discover super senses heightened agility increased strength… and a thirst for blood. One dead cougar later Bella and the gang are able to focus on the real troubles ahead: Renesmee is rapidly growing (think Jack) and vampiric overlords The Volturi perceive her a threat to vampiric secrecy. Knowing the Volturi will travel to Forks WA to kill the young girl (a 10-year-old just a month after being born) The Cullens amass an army of bloodsucking friends to end the oppression once and for all.
Packed with an absurd amount of backstory and mythology-twisting plot points (some vampires can shoot lightning now?) Condon and series screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg mine revel in the beefed up ensemble of Breaking Dawn - Part 2 and thanks to a wildly funny cast it never feels like pointless deviation. Along with the usual suspects Lee Pace adds swagger to the series as a grungy alt-rock vampire Noel Fisher appears as a hilarious over-the-top battle-ready Russian coven member and Michael Sheen returns has Volturi head honcho Aro and steels the show. Flamboyant diabolical and a steady stream of maniacal laughter Sheen owns Condon's high camp vision for Twilight and he lights up the screen. There are a few throw away nations of vampires — the oddly stereotypical Egyptian and Amazonians sects are there mostly there to off-set the extreme whiteness — but the actors involved bring liveliness to a franchise known for being soulless. Even Stewart Pattinson and Taylor Lautner give personal bests in this installment — a scene between Bella and her dad Charlie (Billy Burke) is genuinely heartfelt while Jacob's overprotective hero schtick finally lands.
Whereas Breaking Dawn - Part 1 stuck mostly to the personal story relying on the intimate moments as Bella and Edward took the big plunge into marriage and sex Part 2 paints with broader strokes and Condon has a ball. Delving into the history of the vampires and the vampire world outside Forks is Pandora's Box for the director. One scene where we learn why kids scare the heck of the Volturi captures a scope of medieval epics — along with the bloodshed. Twilight might be known for its sexual moments but Breaking Dawn - Part 2 will go down for its abundance of decapitations. The big set piece in the finale is something to behold both in the craftsmanship of the spectacle and in its bizarre nature.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 had the audience hooting hollering and even gasping as it twisted and turned to the final moments. There's little doubt that even the biggest naysayer of the franchise would do the same. No irony here: the conclusion of Twilight is a blast.
I'd tell you to quit playing games with my heart, 98 Degrees, but I wouldn't dare after Backstreet Boys uttered the words. (I am nothing but faithful.) After all, back in March, you teased me with a possible reunion tour before Nick Lachey said "I Do(n't)" to the idea on Twitter. And now, just three months later, you confirm that you will indeed reunite, but only for "Una Noche" in August at the MixTape Festival in Hershey, Penn. Oh, 98 Degrees, how you tease me with your brief re-emergence and easy punnery!
Of course, I'm holding out hope that reviving the sweet memory of dressing in similar hues will bring out the band's desire to take their show on the road. And it seems Drew Lachey himself is not entirely closed off to the possibility. Talking with Ryan Seacrest Wednesday, Lachey told the radio host: "This music festival right here just kind of seemed like the right time to get back together and do a show and kick the tires and see how it feels."
Be still, my Kangol-loving heart. But since the men have yet to grab their gelly roll pens to sign on for a full-on tour, we'll have to settle for their MixTape performance. And since us Generation Y children are a demanding demographic that has managed to will '90s nostalgia into existence, I have some requests for the Lachey brothers, Jeff Timmons, and Justin Jeffre. So, without further ado, here are 10 things we need to see during 98 Degrees' reunion at the MixTape festival, which will also host Kelly Clarkson, Carly Rae Jepsen, LL Cool J, DJ Pauly D, NKOTBSB, and, did I mention, will be the BEST FESTIVAL EVER TO HIT EARTH.
1. 98 Degrees styled by House of Deréon. I dream about a costume wardrobe that's a mix of Destiny's Child with just a little touch of 98 Degrees' cohesive style — this would make me smile. (Also, why isn't O-Town locked in for MixTape?) But if there's anything that 98 Degrees' patented mix-and-match-and-match-some-more wardrobe, it was a few sequins. After all, after chasing a bedazzled trophy on Dancing With the Stars, isn't Drew going through sequin withdrawal?
2. Shirtlessness. Plenty of shirtlessness. Remember what I just said about 98 Degrees' wardrobe? Well, I take it back. I want to see 98 Degrees styled by no one other than the big man upstairs. Nick, Drew, and Jeff, it's been far too long since I was embarrassed to focus on your abdominal area in Teen People for longer than 10 seconds when my parents were in the room. And Justin, it's been far too long since I've been awed by the creative ways you manage to keep your shirt on in photo shoots. I don't care that it's been 14 years, several babies, and numerous reality show appearances since you rose onto the scene via 98 Degrees and Rising, I won't be satisfied until every last one of you continues to gain my affection by losing your shirts. As Jeff Timmons for pointers!
3. 98NKOTBSB. As much as I would love to see 98 NKOTBSB bands, that is not what this means. Instead, MixTape has no choice but to present fans with a super-hybrid version of the hybrid boy band. New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys discovered a mint when they realized the power of '90s resurgence — why not cash in with another addition? I know, I know. 98 Degrees is a threateningly handsome and talented bunch. But it's worth it for a mash-up of "Quit Playing Games (With My True To Your Heart)." Plus, these boys have skills. See above.
4. A Carly Rae Jepsen/Justin Jeffre meme. If memes existed in 1998, Jeffre would be aching for one. The baritone had long been labeled the 98 Degrees outcast, purely for his preference for clothing. I've mentioned it before, but one of my favorite games to play in the '90s was "Where Is Justin Jeffre?" Take a look at these photos to see if you can spot him:
He blends in perfectly wearing this shade of sedimentary. He’s not just a background vocalist — he’s actually the background. More layers! More layers! 5. Dance moves. 98 Degrees is mostly known as an S&M group (Stand and Model), but I would hope more than a decade in the industry would have taught them a move or two. And, if they were to so be inspired by lesser boy bands like 'NSYNC (yes, I said it), that would be fine too. Especially, in fact, if 98 Degrees mimicked my all-time favorite '90s dance move, seen at 2:43 in 'NSYNC's "I Want You Back" video. And now let me introduce you to the choreographer:
6. A Michael Jackson medley. This one's for serious, friends. Having broken my Walkman listening to the band's "She's Out of My Life" cover more times than I tied and untied my Doc Martens, I have no choice but to demand a follow-up following the King of Pop's 2009 death. And as much as I loved their "Man in the Mirror" at Jackson's 30-years-as-a-solo-artist celebration in 2001, I demand that 98 Degrees, yes, "Beat It."
7. Cameos. Lots of cameos. Speaking of legends, 98 Degrees scored a hit with their Mariah Carey-supported "Thank God I Found You," and a fan favorite with the Stevie Wonder-headlining "True To Your Heart." If Mariah and Stevie cannot appear live, I will accept the tunes being bolstered by the talents of Joe and Mulan.
8. A Recreation of the "I Do (Cherish You)" video. But please force Ali Landry to eat Doritos and Harvey Walden to scream in Dustin Diamond's face.
9. The announcement of another Christmas album. Because This Gift has been played so often in my house on Christmas, Mannheim Steamroller (or, more accurately, my Dad) threatens to steamroll over it. Please, 98 Degrees, add some variety to my holiday! Plus: The spoken verse portion of "Silent Night" is not nearly long enough to fill space during Christmas dinner.
10. A performance of "The Hardest Thing" while the band holds a Furby, drinks Surge, eats Tastetations, dons frosted tips, and tells us they will, in fact, go on a reunion tour. Because, clearly, I need this so bad.
Follow Kate on Twitter @HWKateWard
[Image Credits: Motown, Universal, Columbia/SME Records, Chippendale's] More: 98 Degrees Reuniting? Good — They're the Best Boy Band of the '90s! 98 Degrees' Jeff Timmons: Joey Lawrence Better Strap Himself In for Chippendale's