Review of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1


Movie Review: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1

Rating: PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, sexuality, partial nudity and some thematic elements
Length: 117 minutes
Release Date: November 18, 2011
Directed by: Bill Condon
Genre: Drama, Adventure, Fantasy
Stars: 2 out of 5

"Breaking Dawn - Part 1," the almost-final installment of the Twilight Saga, promises to thrill fans of this series, and perfectly sets the scene for the finale. The references to previous Twilight films might not make sense to the average moviegoer, making this film feel as though it was intended, more than any of the others, to be made just for Twilight fans. Anyone with no previous knowledge of the Twilight films or books might be confused at times because of these references, but this confusion does not take away from the story.

The film begins with Jacob (Taylor Lautner, "Abduction") receiving an invitation to Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson, "Water for Elephants") and Bella Swan's (Kristen Stewart, "The Runaways," "Adventureland") elaborate wedding. Following Jacob's not so thrilled reaction to the nuptials, the film begins a slow buildup to the actual event, which some may feel ruins any intensity Jacob's scene might have provided. Viewers then follow Bella through the process of planning a wedding, including trying on shoes, fussing with hair, makeup, and receiving treasures passed down from family members. This is all backed by classical soundtrack meant to increase the anticipation of the upcoming nuptials.

Bella forges ahead with the wedding, despite some natural second thoughts about marrying a guy who is undead. Twilight fans in Team Edward's camp finally get to see their dreams for this saga realized.

"Breaking Dawn - Part 1" is the fourth film in the Twilight series, and the first of a two-part final chapter. It was intended to tie up loose ends left by its predecessors, and it does that, while leaving room for future films.

Sadly, there isn't a lot going on in the film. The notable events include marriage, sex, and pregnancy, which do make for interesting elements in a vampire movie. Edward and Bella's marriage is given enough romantic clich├ęs and melodrama to sink the Titanic, but the dreamy quality and high emotion of these scenes far outweigh any negatives. It is pure escapism at its best.

The wedding speeches are edited into a montage, which provides some comic relief to the dark intensity of previous scenes. This works to lighten the mood and change the pace a bit. Jacob later adds enough tension to let viewers know that not everything is going to turn out to be sunshine and roses for Edward and Bella. Then the festivities end and the film shifts to the honeymoon scene, which Twilight fans have anticipated from the beginning. The effect of this scene was intended to be suggestive but not raunchy. However, due to the edits necessary to make it PG 13 instead of R-rated, Edward and Bella's love scene ends up feeling disjointed and not as romantic as it could have been.

Director Bill Condon (Chicago) takes the film into darker territory in the second half, as Bella finds out she is pregnant with Edward's baby. The remaining scenes are focused on efforts to keep Bella alive as her little bundle of joy grows and becomes dangerously hungry.

The serious and heavy matters of unplanned vampire pregnancy are briefly forgotten when the action sequence comes along, though some viewers might feel the battle with the wolves comes across as cartoonish. In the end, "Breaking Dawn - Part 1" leaves viewers with a cliffhanger, which works to make fans of the saga eager to see what will happen in the final installment. "Breaking Dawn-Part 1" also stays remarkably true to the book, so fans of the Twilight Saga novels will enjoy this adaptation.