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No matter what I or any other critic say, there will be a lot of people who have already made up their minds on whether they are going to The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 and the most positive or negative reviews will never change that. Opinions between Twi-hards and Twi-haters are extremely polarized, but it is my duty to give an honest opinion on the latest chapter of the saga.
It has finally happened. Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart) have tied the knot and, despite some pre-wedding nerves, it seems like a success. The two lovers spend their honeymoon on a tropical island off the coast of Brazil and we get the moment we have all been waiting for: they finally have sex. But a shock is in store when Bella ends up pregnant (remember kids, always practice safe sex) and the human-vampire fetus is killing her from the inside. As the Cullens try to save Bella, the Quileute tribe set out to kill her and the child, believing it will be a threat and abomination. Jacob (Taylor Lautner) ends up being torn between his loyalty to the tribe, his hatred for Edward, and his love for Bella.
There is a new trend in Hollywood to split book adaptations into two parts. It made sense with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, because that was a long novel with a many elements that were interlinked and it needed to be told in two parts, but “Breaking Dawn Part 1” was trying to stretch the material to fit the allocated time. There are numerous montages, such as the honeymoon, which could have easily been shortened to make a single, stronger movie. The film had very little plot too; it’s basically about a complicated pregnancy that just happened to feature vampires and werewolves.
There is a melodramatic tone throughout, amplified by the music, whether it was the piano-heavy soft moments, the epic score (often played over non-epic moments), or the emo rock songs. A little melodrama is fine, but it goes on for most of the movie, and when there is little hook of a story, it just becomes a drag. Even people who are fans to the series will admit that dialogue has never been its strong suit. Bill Condon attempts to make the sex scene and honeymoon to be tender, but it came off more sappy and overbearing.
“Part 1’s” strength is that it is the best-acted of the series. Stewart certainly gives it a good go and Lautner gives what is a half-way decent performance. Pattinson was slumming it, but with some of the cheesy dialogue he has to say, even someone like Laurence Olivier would have struggled.
Condon does have a few moments of visual darkness, including the dream sequence in the beginning with its juxtaposition of bright white clothing and blood and Bella and Edward standing on top of a load of corpses. The birth scene was actually intense and gory. But these are counter-balanced with goofy moments, one of the most infamous being a psychic werewolf argument.
The whole wedding sequence and honeymoon plays like a young girl’s fantasy, sort of idealistic. This is fine, but hardly dramatic and not likely to have wide appeal.
Previous “Twilight” movies have had some interesting side issues that could and should have been explored. This is not the case with “Part 1.” There are no issues of a man resisting his urges and dark side, a young teen forced into being a vampire, an army of powerful new vampires being formed and the idea of there being a vampire council. There is nothing like that. The few themes there are include a look into Edward’s past, a brief debate about abortion and the idea of imprinting, which is basically brainwashing. A better idea could be looking at somebody forcing someone else to love them. That would be a dark story.
“Breaking Dawn Part 1” is the weakest movie in the series so far and I speak as someone who is neutral to the overall experience.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1
Directed by Bill Condon
Written by Melissa Rosenberg (screenplay), Stephanie Meyer (novel)
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner