In Theaters: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1

By Tommy Bond, Film Critic

Yes, I watched it.  And yes, I have seen the rest of them too.  As I write this review, I’m still holding on to my Man Card as tight as I was when I ashamedly looked to the ground and mumbled to the guy in the ticket booth, “Two for Breaking Dawn, please”.  My girlfriend was with me, thank goodness.  The guy chuckled at me enough as it was, he’d seen my situation pass by him all day.

This is the fourth film in the tweenybopper crack cocaine (for “those people”, not me) that is The Twilight Saga, a soap opera-y drama about vampires, werewolves, and the girl they love – all of them acting with the world on their shoulders, as if every decision is life or death.  I’m glad my high-school experience wasn’t like theirs.

Bella Swan is the girl, and Edward Cullen and Jacob Black are the men in her life.  One’s a werewolf, one’s a vampire.  She’s too good for the usual stereotypes, no jocks or nerds for her.  Through the previous films the guys have fought for her attention, kicking and screaming and whining when they don’t get their way.  Finally, Bella makes a decision.  She will marry Edward Cullen the vampire.  And so begins this film, the first of two parts. (What is that you say?  They heard from Harry Potter that you can make more money like this?  Is that why?  Oooooooh.)  We witness the wedding, which admittedly is quite stunning and beautiful, and all of the awkward moments that can happen when a human bride’s family meets the vampire family of the groom, we’ve all been there before. Then there’s the wild, room-wrecking, bed-crushing honeymoon that Bella can only recall in flashbacks.  She’s bruised all over, but she assures an ashamed Edward that it was wonderful.  It was for him too.  So good was it for both of them that she realizes she is pregnant, something that neither of them thought possible, seeing as how Edward’s been dead for a few decades.  But life finds a way.

The second half of Breaking Dawn is all about how the baby could possibly kill Bella, and how Jacob and Edward don’t like that.  Neither does the pack of werewolves that believe the baby will wreak havoc and death upon all that it sees.  They want to kill the baby. (Really guys? She can’t even crawl yet, and she threatens you?).  The baby is born, Bella has complications, and there is a mighty battle.  Then some other cool things happen, but I can’t ruin everything for you.

Call me crazy, but the first three films weren’t so bad.  All men just hate Edward because he has warped the minds of the ladies we are trying to woo. Girls now think that men exist who only care about their girl, and nothing else at all.  No football, no poker nights with the guys, no video games.  Just creepily watching their girl sleep, and at her every beck and call when she awakes.  We have a right to hate him.  But the films themselves aren’t so bad, and they provide some good (if not highly overdone) drama.

The werewolves and vampires that Meyer has created are interesting and non-stereotypical.  No mirrors, garlic, or crucifixes mentioned here.  This is both frustrating and refreshing.  The dialogue has always been weak, and continues to be so in this installment, although the acting has gotten a tad better.  Kristen Stewart can mostly just let her heavy makeup do the acting for her though, don’t be fooled.

Technically, this film looks and sounds as good as the rest of them.  It’s well made.

My biggest problem is the melodramatic nature of the plot, and that everything is life and death.  Nothing is ever discussed in a relaxed position, it’s always about running, fighting, moving, hiding, tricking, planning.  Just chill out people!  You’re 18 years old. If the filmmakers put more effort into explaining the reasons behind so much of the hatred and drama and tension, then perhaps I could relate.  As it is, I just get frustrated at the characters.

I truly enjoyed the wedding and honeymoon scenes.  They were everything that the rest of the films aren’t.  Relaxed, light-hearted, funny.  I got to see sides of the characters that aren’t ever explored, and it was so refreshing.  I was actually starting to worry that I might really like the movie, and seeing as how I have integrity, I would have to tell you people that I really enjoyed a Twilight movie.

But the second half of the film ruined all that.  It was a slow-moving, confusing sequence of events that involved Edward grimacing in pain, Jacob creeping around the house and being generally annoying, and Bella making the awful decision to call her baby “Edward Jacob Cullen”, if it turned out to be a boy.  How Edward puts up with her antics sometimes I’ll never understand.

Rated PG-13 for disturbing images, violence, sexuality/partial nudity and some thematic elements.

Running Time: 117 Minutes.

Released in theatres: November 18th, 2011.

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