The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 Directed by: Bill Condon Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner Running Time: 1 hr 57 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: November 18, 2011
PLOT: Bella (Stewart) and Edward (Pattinson) get married. Before being changed into a vampire, she becomes pregnant. No one knows what to expect and now Jacob (Lautner) must choose sides between his own family and protecting Bella.
WHO'S IT FOR? It's for the base crowd who have seen the previous three films. Surprisingly though, I don't think you need to see the other three films to understand what is going on here.
EXPECTATIONS: I was trying to piece together exactly where we left off in this saga. The only thing I could definitely remember is that Eclipse was a little better than the first two.
Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen: Edward is our rock. He is constantly saying and/or doing the right thing. The problem is, the people around him rarely listen. The romance between Edward and Bella is on full display with the wedding and honeymoon. While Eclipse let him have a couple of funny moments, there isn't much of a chance for Edward to joke around here, what with the potential demon baby inside his wife. That tends to interfere with things. Pattinson gets a chance to go retro once again with a quick flashback of his younger years. Just like Water for Elephants, it's a natural fit to think of Pattinson from another era. Score: 6
Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan: Look, I know what you are doing, but could you at least try explaining it just a little bit? Bella is 18 and she's still acting like it. She's desperately nervous/scared to walk down the aisle and consummate her marriage, so suddenly becoming confident in her decision to have a baby seems out of place and the film fails to try to get us on board. You have to give her points toward the end for looking insanely sickly, but I didn't feel connected to her decisions at all in this film. Score: 5
Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black: Jacob keeps saying goodbye to Bella and keeps coming back. It's repetitive and almost pointless. Since the character is given so little to do, it's up to the actor to rise to the challenge and emote. I just don't see it from Lautner. He is a robot muscle boy who keeps trying to program himself to walk and talk (and let's not forget looking upset, tearing his shirt off and running). I feel like I am watching the Epcot "ride" Hall of Presidents, spotting the differences between Lautner's animatronics and real human movements. Score: 3
Rest of Cast: The wolf pack doesn't pack much of a bite, or seem to pose any real threat. They are nervous about whatever is growing in Bella's belly, but it keeps slipping and sliding from "Bella's nice" to "Kill them all!" Once again, Billy Burke + mustache as Charlie Swan is a great fit and there are plenty of sweet, funny moments between Bella and Charlie during the wedding. Anna Kendrick gets some zingers in there as Jessica, Bella's high school friend who seems completely out of place in Bella's new life. The Cullen clan do their typical things. I have no clue where the Volturi are, to the point where it seems like a mistake, like a scene is missing. Cast: 5
TALKING: The conversation flows pretty nicely in the beginning, but then there are long pauses all over the place, and silence (except for invasive music). I was impressed that when Bella explained she was "late," Edward didn't make a lame, "For what?" joke. When talking about fetus, feelings, or imprinting, it feels almost comical. Kind of like when Star Wars gets into the Midi-chlorians. The questions I had about Bella's choice, Edward's frustration and Jacob's faith seem barely answered, which is weird considering they were trapped in the house for weeks. Score: 4
SIGHTS: OK, the Cullen's know how to decorate for a wedding, I love their house and that honeymoon spot is ridiculously cool. I still don't love how they film/CGI the vampires running fast, it just looks like poor special effects. So do the fight sequences. I will say the werewolves look good, but again, not while they are fighting. Once Bella goes in to labor, the graphic nature was ... actually pretty amazing. Score: 6
SOUNDS: Wow. Does every emotional moment need to be accompanied by what feels like the start of a musical video? They brought back the Iron & Wine song "Flightless Bird, American Mouth" which was a nice touch, but everything else felt terribly forced. Worst of all is the musical score that feels like it is more for a comedy or cheesy melodrama ... oh, huh, I guess it makes more sense than I realized. Not until the end, when things turn dark, did I feel like the music fit just a little bit. Score: 3
BEST SCENE: I enjoyed the toasts at the wedding, but I'm always a sucker for that.
ENDING: I have to admit, I'm curious what happens next even if I didn't love the entire process. The ending suits this film quite well.
QUESTIONS: Is it just me, or do they say "imprinting" too much? Where the hell are the Volturi, or does that not matter? Isn't Bella leading Jacob on a little too much?
REWATCHABILITY: No thanks, I can hold out a year, watch Part 2, and never care much about these movies again.
It takes mere minutes for Jacob to be emotionally hurt by Bella, rip off his shirt, and go for a wolf run. It's at that moment I remembered I wasn't watching a movie, it's a soap opera. It's the melodrama of a love triangle, saving yourself, accidental pregnancy and potential demon babies, just like mom used to watch.
While The Twilight Saga: Eclipse desperately promised us more action (which I feel like it didn't deliver), this one is about the romance. At least the first half of Part 1 (so technically a quarter of Breaking Dawn) is dedicated to the love many women have been desperate to realize on the big screen. I'm surprised they didn't push farther with the PG-13 love-making. Not for me, but for their core audience. Just like geeks clamoring for more lightsabers, would Twilight's core have been upset by five more minutes of tight angles, slow undressing, and other gratuitous soft-core moments? Considering it felt like they slowed down so many other moments, this would have been a better use of time.
After the romance it is a waiting game, and I don't feel like Bella, Edward and Jacob accomplish much during this stretch. From my perspective, so far, it seems like this could have easily been one movie. Then again, I don't know what lies ahead. There are plenty of conversations to have, but it's like they choose to just turn on the music and pretend to wander off to serious thoughts. They also do a terrible job of explaining exactly how much time has passed.
It's shockingly effective how sickly Stewart can look toward the end of this pregnancy. I hate giving a woman credit when it looks like she desperately needs a Big Mac, but damn. And things turn up another notch when the movie shifts into a graphic child birth complete with bloody residue over everything, including a chiseled cheekbone. While I can't say The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 was great story telling, it has genuinely made me wonder where this is going next. I didn't feel that way after watching The Twilight Saga: Eclipse even if I did like that film slightly better.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10