“What the f-awrawrawrawrawrawr* did I just watch?”: Review of Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (SPOILERS)



  1. THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS POST. Carry on reading at your own risk.
  2. Besides Breaking Dawn, I’ve never read/watched a single text from the Twilight saga/franchise/universe, including fan-made stuff, so let me know if I get some things wrong.


Last week, my sister and I were engaging in our usual Wibbling Rivalry i.e. having an inane discussion over Whatsapp when she suddenly asked: “Want to go and watch Twilight on Sunday?”

Now, I’ve never been a fan of the Twilight saga/franchise because of all the horrendous things I’ve heard about it.

But as the title of the song by The Strokes goes, “I’ll try anything once.” (The line is, sadly, never sung in the song – but that’s another story for another day.)

So I told myself: OK, Laremy. Let’s keep an open mind and go and watch the damn film.

After all, what’s the worse that could happen? Right?


To understand the Twilight saga/franchise/universe, you must first understand that it’s a chick thing and most chicks dig it.

It’s crafted in such a way that all girls get to live out their fantasy vicariously through Bella, the protagonist of the Twilight saga/franchise/universe.

Or for the more canonical-minded among you, Twilight is essentially the Wuthering Heights of the 21st century, and all the girls imagine themselves to be Catherines (Bella) finding love in a hopeless place together with their Heathcliffs (Edward).

My post-post-feminist instincts (LOL) aside, I have no qualms about that; fantasy is fantasy and I, too, enjoy reading s/f texts.

But my only – and my biggest – gripe with Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is that it’s SO f-awrawrawrawrawrawr-ing badly written.

And so the worse did happen: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 now has the dubious honour of being the first film in my entire life that I’ve wanted to walk out from.

However, it also has the dubious honour of being the only film I’ve stayed on to watch because it was so bad that it was hysterically hilarious.

How hysterically hilarious? Let me count the ways (SPOILER ALERT):

  1. The opening was very Bond-esque but unlike the Bond films, it didn’t seem to have a deeper semiotic/thematic meaning (I could be wrong).

    But again, because I have an open mind, I thought: OK, because of this Bond-esque sequence, let’s give this film a shot and try to watch it with the assumption that it has some cinematic value. And so…
  2. …I made the biggest mistake – and I snorted out loudly in the cinema because of this – by assuming there was a deeper meaning to the ripped-out page.

    To explain: Alice, one of the characters, scribbles a note for Bella on a page that she rips out from The Merchant of Venice (for the wankers among you: desecrating the canon; post-post-modernist revisionist yada yada yada).

    The moment I saw it, though, I immediately started thinking: OK, maybe it has something to do with a “pound of flesh” and all that jazz.

    But imagine my amused, snorting horror when it was revealed that the ripped page was just that – a page ripped out from The Merchant of Venice because it was convenient to do so!

    After that, I just gave up and started taking the show at face value – which I should’ve done from the very beginning.

    But still, there were other exceptionally literal moments…
  3. …such as The Volturi.

    I initially heard it as The Vulturi and was quite impressed because of the connotations – menacing scavengers a la vultures; policing the skies; ridding the land of carrion because they have transgressed the laws of life; etc.

    But then I come home… and realise it’s spelt as Volturi.

    Like, what the f-awrawrawrawrawrawr, man. I know there’s an attempt at historical significance – but calling them the Volturi is so f-awrawrawrawrawrawr-ing unthinkingly lazy!

    And I’m sure I’m not the only one who appreciates how much more aesthetically pleasing it would’ve been if the f-awrawrawrawrawrawr-ers had been named The Vulturi who live in Volterra. Right? Right?

    But was this the only incongruity in this universe? No…
  4. …there was also the incongruity of other laws of nature established in the universe.

    Some background information: in s/f texts, the universe that’s created is different from the one we inhabit.

    So there are alternate (social, environment, legal, biological, etc.) laws in this reality that must be intricately crafted and then connected together, otherwise the premise of the text falls apart.

    In the Twilight world, the vampires have supernatural sensory perception e.g. Irina, one of the members of the Volturi, is able to see Renesmee from afar (like, 20km away).

    And in that instant, she assumes that Renesmee is a vampire child and therefore, the Cullen coven have broken the vampire laws.

    Which doesn’t make sense because the other vampires can see and smell and hear things like heartbeats, the warmth of blood coursing through veins and werewolf scent – and this is demonstrated throughout the entire movie.

    So why couldn’t Irina have done this and saved everyone the trouble? Right? Right?

    Cringing yet? Don’t, because this isn’t the most cringe-worthy moment…
  5. …especially when you compare it to the unbelievable dialogue, which is SO contrived that it’s like eating Mega Sour Lemon Candy – on an empty stomach.

    Example (I’ve paraphrased to the best of my memory):

    Setting – intimate scene between BELLA and EDWARD. EDWARD sensuously and slowly unbuttons BELLA’s top.

    Bella: I know how to undress myself.

    Edward: But I can do it better than you.

    What? What? Who speaks like that? Who?

  6. But the winningest moment of the movie was when ‘he-woke-up-and-found-out-that-it-was-all-just-a-dream’.

    To explain: the audience is made to believe that the fight sequence between the Volturi and Edward and Bella’s gang is real.

    However, it’s subsequently revealed that the fight sequence is actually part of a vision shown to Aro by Alice of a possible ending (that goes badly for him) if he chooses to fight Edward and Bella’s gang.



The only redeeming grace of Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is that it (strangely enough) can be read as an allegory of Singapore society.

Or maybe I was just trying to make myself feel better about watching such a horrendous show…


For what it’s worth:

  1. The vampire covens are like the [redacted] people of Singapore – concerned about petty things (e.g. “imprinting”??? WTF man!), not wanting to speak up when it’s time to do so, not wanting to be involved in conflicts with the Gahmen, not wanting to be quoted in the newspapers… the list goes on.
  2. The werewolf packs are [redacted because Singapore but can ask me in private].
  3. The Volturi are – jang jang jang! – the PAP government which governs vampire (Singapore) society.
  4. Vampire society respects the Volturi out of fear; it’s an uneasy relationship between the vampires and the Volturi but so long as vampires can carry on cavorting in fields of violets, the status quo is allowed to remain.
  5. The Volturi want to clamp down on what they perceive as potential threats to their power, but they frame it as potential threats to vampire society (perpetual siege mentality/crisis mode).
  6. When vampire society decides to challenge the Volturi, there is a very high possibility that the Volturi might be undermined/overthrown (a la GE2011).
  7. Hence, the Volturi make some concessions to vampire society – which allows the Volturi to remain in power and vampire society to continue cavorting in fields of violets (artificial/constructed social compact).
  8. The threat of the Volturi snapping off the heads of vampires stil remains (climate of fear).
  9. Last but not least, Vladimir and Stefan are the SDP, which wants to be involved in any democratic conflict with the PAP government regardless of what the conflict is.

    When the conflict is averted and the the artificial social compact allowed to remain, Vladimir and Stefan stage a protest.

    When no one pays them any heed, Vladimir and Stefan run away to lick their wounds… and possibly avoid bankruptcy so they can return to fight another day (or in another election, at least).


* f-awrawrawrawrawrawr: Werewolvian for “fuck”.

Rethinking Richard III

Richard III parody - George Bush Jr as the King.

If you haven’t already heard the news, it seems that a set of human remains found in what is now a car park could’ve belonged to King Richard III.

In the wake of this news comes an article that discusses the portrayal of King Richard III.

So I thought I’d share my – possibly inaccurate – two cents on the matter.

I’ve always thought King Richard III was a very relevant text for Singapore and Singaporean audiences.

As a big fan of Singapore (I love Singapore!) and Singaporean history in all its forms, reading the text brings to mind visions of:

Nevertheless, as someone who is also very much aware of how media, language and representation can be used to manipulate the minds of the many, I don’t doubt that Richard III could’ve been misrepresented.

To break it down simply (and again, I stress that this might be an oversimplification of the matter):

  • Theatre in Shakespeare’s time was a form of media/entertainment then;
  • Shakespeare wrote during the reign of Elizabeth I who was from the House of Tudor;
  • The House of Tudor was founded by Henry VII; and
  • Henry VII was the same dude who defeated Richard III at The Battle of Bosworth Field and wrested the reign of the throne from him.

In light of this, let’s consider these three truisms:

  1. Any politician worth her/his salt will go out of her/his way to remove any possible threat to her/his throne/seat.

    It’s a measure as old as Jesus (perhaps even older) and has been used in contemporary Singapore’s history as well (c.f. what I mentioned earlier about Lim Chin Siong and the Internal Security Act).
  2. History can be whitewashed/history is written by the victors.

    ‘Nuff said. Alternatively, a lie repeated often enough will become the truth.
  3. Any artist concerned about bringing home the bacon will not want to offend her/his patrons/governing institutions lest her/his funding dries up.

    Very contemporary case in point: Square Moon (“I saw you standing alone…”)

So it could’ve been possible – again, I don’t proclaim to speak the truth; I’m just pointing out possibilities – that:

  1. Shakespeare purposefully portrayed Richard III in the manner he did because he had no choice/he was forced to do so; and
  2. King Richard III wasn’t just for entertainment; it could’ve been used as a tool for public propaganda to shape the views and opinions of the masses in order to provide moral and political legitimacy to the existence of the Tudor dynasty.

Which brings us to our present-day beliefs and also provides us with a very nice reflection on the state of politics in Singapore.

“But Laremy,” you might (or might not, depending on whether I’ve managed to keep your attention up to this point) ask. “Is there any evidence in the text that could possibly support this view?”

“Possibly,” I will reply, and possibly, dinosaur bite you concurrently (or consecutively, depending on how well I can multi-task).

I’ve always thought of the character of The Scrivener as a metatheatrical device which represents Shakespeare’s voice in the matter.

  1. First, the Scrivener’s speech is actually a sonnet, in that it has 14 lines.

    Although it doesn’t follow the rhyme scheme of the sonnets that Shakespeare used to write, form in literature – more often than not – always has a function.

    So the use of the sonnet is meant to reflect the status of The Scrivener as a learned man; a man of letters – much like Shakespeare.
  2. Second, the speech is right smack in the middle of the play – and it’s a 14-line scene on its own.

    Why was it so important as a scene that it had to be left on its own? Why couldn’t it have been excised?

    Shakespeare already had enough material in the play to show the purported misdeeds of Richard, along with the purported views of the citizens.

    Why does this scene even have to exist?
  3. Last but not least, if I may take the liberty of paraphrasing The Scrivener’s speech slightly, look at what we have (mentions of time shouldn’t be interpreted literally):

    This is the indictment of the good [King Richard III];
    Which in a set hand fairly is engross’d,
    That it may be this day read over…
    And mark how well the sequel hangs together:
    Eleven hours I spent to write it over,
    For yesternight…was it brought me;
    The precedent was full as long a-doing:
    And yet within these five hours lived [King Richard III],
    Untainted, unexamined, free, at liberty
    Here’s a good world the while! Why who’s so gross,
    That seeth not this palpable device?
    Yet who’s so blind, but says he sees it not?

    Bad is the world; and all will come to nought,
    When such bad dealings must be seen in thought.

Convinced? Or am I also using media and language to manipulate your mind?

What is with this excessive tree-pruning obsession?

The excessive pruning of trees - disapprove.

I’m not against the pruning of trees, because pruning does help at times in terms of improving the aesthetics or safety of a place.

What I’m against is the excessive pruning of trees all over Singapore that takes place on a regular basis.

(At the same time, I do wish more trees could be planted in Singapore, but that’s another battle for another time).

That tree gave some much-needed shade to Pooters – something I appreciate because I hate sitting on an over-heated seat and I hate knowing Pooters is exposed to the elements.

There are other benefits to trees in our urban environment too: carbon sequestration, reduction in ambient temperatures, etc. Read more here.

That’s why trees are especially important in a place like sunny Singapore and in a world stricken by global warming.

However, I’ve always felt that whoever makes decision like these – e.g. to prune trees excessively – do so in the right spirit: to neaten and hence beautify the place, to prevent tree branches from falling and killing people during a gale or a storm, etc.

Unfortunately, these decisions seem to always be made in a vacuum, without consideration of other important factors like the ones I mentioned above: shade, shelter, preventing global warming, etc.


I think this has to do with encouraging critical thinking and providing these people with an actual knowledge of circumstances in our world today.

And that’s why it has never been more important for us to move away from subjects taught in the traditional curriculum, to teaching slightly more multidisciplinary and ‘real-world’ subjects like biodiversity or environmental ethics now.