Full disclosure: I haven’t read or watched a single installment of The Twilight Saga, nor did I ever intend to. But as a movie critic (and a lowly intern who is willing to review most every title that comes his way), I wholeheartedly attempt to not judge a film before I actually watch it. Because lord knows that I’m entertained by weird stuff myself, and it’s simply not fair to judge something based on how it may seem to the uninitiated.
At the same time, though, I also view movies as individual pieces of work, not taking into consideration what may have come before or, in some cases, how the original was in comparison. So I watched the DVD release of Breaking Dawn – Part 1 as its own movie. I had the benefit of viewing it with a friendly Twi-Hard who could kind of bring me up to speed on what I didn’t know. What I came to find was that for all the storyline’s stipulations to add up, and to understand most of what’s happening, not only do you need to watch the preceding films first, but the books as well. For me, watching Breaking Dawn amounted to watching a scene occur, looking to my friend for an explanation, processing said explanation, then thinking that it still doesn’t make sense.
Anyways, let’s dive into this thing already. Breaking Dawn takes 117 minutes to accomplish what could be done in roughly 30. Its concern is with the marriage of Bella (Kristen Stewart) to Edward (Robert Pattinson) and her subsequent pregnancy. The big to-do, however, is with the couple’s sex life. Seeing as though one is human and one is a vampire, the two have yet to go all the way, so to speak, because Edward is fearful of becoming overly aggressive and literally ripping Bella apart in bed. The plan is for Bella to make the transformation into a vampire once their honeymoon is over, because I guess vampire sex just isn’t the same as human sex.
Apparently this has been a problem throughout the course of the series, though it took only this one film for me to grow annoyed by the repetitive nature of Bella trying to entice Edward, followed by his refusal to do anything about it.
The two eventually do have sex, and Bella ends up pregnant with the child of a vampire. It grows at a rapid pace and causes her to become deathly ill. This is Jacob’s (Taylor Lautner) cue to enter. He’s still in love with Bella, but is upset with her decision to marry Edward and become a vampire. The fact that she’s pregnant with a half-human child that’s quickly killing her only pisses him off further. Will Jacob and Edward be able to put their differences aside and save the girl they both love? Don’t worry, it’s called Breaking Dawn - PART 1. There’s more to come …
Stewart is a unique kind of beautiful, and both she and Pattinson are semi-talented people, but they’re no match for a script meant for a daytime soap opera. Maybe that’s a case of the movie staying loyal to the book. All the same, it’s still not an excuse for awful, unrealistic dialogue. I’m aware that this is a story consumed with vampires and werewolves, but that doesn’t mean they should sound like idiots. And the least director Bill Condon could do to make up for such an atrocious script and equally futile acting is ensure that the CGI is good. It seems as though the big budget for this film wasn’t big enough to cover the effects budget.
Considering there’s a whole DVD disc dedicated to extras, I was surprised to see that they aren’t very plentiful. I suppose there is a fairly lengthy six-part documentary. Beyond that, it’s merely a discussion of Jacob’s character development (which I think was given more thought to in the special features than for the actual film itself), a mock wedding video for Bella and Edward and a special feature that allows fans to watch scenes which only feature either Jacob or Edward. I guess it’d be too easy to be a member of Team Jacob and Team Edward, right?
I’ve probably come down too harshly on Breaking Dawn. I do this, however, not as someone judging the fandom or even the concept of the story, but as someone who appreciates good filmmaking. Breaking Dawn seems to just take the success of a book and bring it to theaters knowing full well it will be a box office hit regardless of the quality. Typical Hollywood.
For those thirsting for a good vampire flick from recent memory, watch 2010’s Let Me In, or the Swedish original Let the Right One in.