The book Breaking Dawn disappointed me. As I sat on a lounge chair on the beach, I read half the book hungrily, awaiting the conclusion to the saga that a co-worker had introduced me to. And when it was over, I was sad. Not that the story had ended, but that it had ended in what I considered a weak way.  Where was the big battle?  All that build-up for nothing.

The movie? Quite different, and pleasantly so.

The story picks up where Part 1 left off. Bella, looking fantastic for someone who just went through a grotesque birthing sequence, wakes up and sees the world with new red eyes. And what do her eyes focus on but the love of her life, smiling at her and ready to take her hunting for poor defenseless forest creatures.

This portion of the film is meant to show us how strong Bella is, and how much she's changed from the sad weak girl of the prior films. She's empowered with really long and heavily mascaraed eyelashes, and her hair looks styled. She also dresses a lot better (due to new sister-in-law Alice).

But her transition to a vampire is hampered by the fact that she has given birth to something unknown in the vampire world, and the Volturi discover the existence of her daughter. Their laws forbid the creation of an immortal child, and they don't realize that Renesmee (yes, I know. The name never stops sounding silly) was born, a living symbol of the love shared by a human and a vampire.

Armies form on both sides, and we are introduced to an international parade of vampires with a variety of superpowers.

I hesitate to say more since I fear venturing into spoiler territory.  And if you've read the books, yes, you too can be spoiled.  There are some differences between book and film, and the result is a stunning scene that had me gasping aloud.  Twice.

And if you were like me and felt that the book lacked action, well, the movie gives you all the action you thought you wanted.

Another thing I feel I should point out is how beautiful the film is.  Oh, it won't win awards for cinematography, but the snow and the trees really give a picturesque quality to the film.  It makes me want to visit Forks.  I could practically smell the pine trees.   And all the vampires are so damn beautiful.  Even the special effects were much better in this film.

Bella's dad (Billy Burke of Revolution) steals the show in every scene he's in.  The audience loved him, as did I.  And Renesmee wasn't nearly as creepy as I pictured her while reading the book.  I think the acting was considerably better, too.  I don't remember Kristen Stewart biting her lip even once.  I guess vampires don't do that.

Fans of Jacob won't be disappointed.  Yes, he does take his shirt off, and gone is the whiny jealous Jacob of Part 1.  Even the werewolf has grown and changed for the better.

If you've stuck with the series this far, I don't think you'll be disappointed by this fifth and final chapter.  If you hate the franchise, well, nothing I say will convince you otherwise.   But where Breaking Dawn Part 1 was gooey and emotional and bland, Part 2 is filled with action, desperation and survival.

As the final credits roll, excerpts from Stephenie Meyer's books appear on the screen--a fitting conclusion to this five-part story that began as a novel for young adults.

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