The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, 2011.
Directed by Bill Condon.
Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone, Julia Jones, Billy Burke, Maggie Grace and Michael Sheen.
The new-found married bliss of Bella Swan and vampire Edward Cullen is cut short as a series of betrayals and misfortunes threatens to destroy their world.
As you can imagine, it’s going to be struggle to review this film with an unbiased mind, due to the enormous amount of hype surrounding it. As an ex-fan of the Twilight Saga book series, I had expectations for this movie – not high ones, as you might imagine, but mediocre-at-best ones; simply because in my eyes the previous three movies failed these books catastrophically. Granted, the Twilight franchise started on a low budget with very little known about it in the media. What it has become is some kind of monster.
But enough of that, what was the actual film like? Well, I think it’s fair to say that my expectations, although supportable, were exceeded greatly. Call me a starry-eyed teenage girl, but I eat my words. As much as I hate to admit it, I actually (kind of) enjoyed watching Breaking Dawn. Although it’s far from perfect, it’s definitely the best movie of the Saga so far by a long shot.
Despite this, there were still several problems with the film. Kristen Stewart’s acting, although much improved since her beginnings in the original Twilight, is still wincingly wooden. She’s added to her catalogue of facial expressions, which previously was made up of two (confused and extremely confused). Her performance was strong and emotive, and invoked in me an empathy which was absent in previous films. Robert Pattinson, who is usually praised more than Stewart on his acting skills, was unusually apathetic in Breaking Dawn. Honestly, I think he has the same mindset as the majority of the general public: he just wants this damn series to be over already. And unfortunately, this was painfully evident in his performance during the film.
The writing of this movie was even more focused (if that’s possible) on the emotions surrounding Bella and Edward’s relationship: their marriage, honeymoon and later on (spoiler – but like you didn’t know already), Bella’s pregnancy. It made a nice change to see some conflict between the couple, whereas before everything was all sunshine and buttercups. Pattinson as an angry vampire is highly unconvincing and lacks the emotional attachment which is necessary for such a storyline. Stewart does a much better job, and the audience can really feel for her as she struggles to go against what Edward wants, or to follow her maternal instincts. The writers have to be praised here; the issues dealt with in this part of the story are explored in an extremely careful and sensitive manner. The whole pregnancy scenario could be seen as a metaphor for what their young audience has experienced or may experience in the future. At the absolute opposite end of the spectrum is the birthing scene, which I’m sorry to say I couldn’t help but giggle at. After reading this scene in the book I was (fruitlessly) hoping for a delicious gore-fest, with blood and guts everywhere, and the emergence of some hideous human-vampire hybrid. Unfortunately, I was sorely disappointed, something which I can understand due to the target audience and certificate of the film, but nevertheless I left the cinema with my appetite for blood (considering this movie has werewolf and vampire fights in it) dissatisfied.
Speaking of which, the choreography of the fight scenes was well done as always, although unclear at times, along with the plot. I consider myself to know a fair amount about the Twilight Saga, and even I was left confused at times concerning the standpoint of the werewolves on the whole treaty-breaking thing. The special effects of the fight scenes were impeccable, although in other places were sorely lacking. For example, the digitalised face of baby Renesmee was laughable, as was the depiction of Jacob’s (Taylor Lautner) first-person werewolf rage fit. However, the portrayal of Bella as skeletally pregnant, with a hideous bulging belly, was magnificent, and highly realistic. It left me wondering whether Kristen Stewart had actually developed anorexia/gotten pregnant with quadruplets during filming.
Besides the above, the only other qualm I had with this film was the obvious and possibly the most idiotic continuity error ever. Edward Cullen, or any of the other vampires, did not sparkle. Not once. And considering that a large proportion of this film was set on an island off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, it was a pretty big error.
But overall, despite some really terrible bits, I enjoyed Breaking Dawn. I would put it under the classification of “guilty pleasure”. Visually, it isn’t particularly striking (despite the Lautner/Pattinson eye-candy), and the acting, although improved, is mediocre at best. But as always, this series never fails to impress, although I’m not entirely sure why. Bring on Part 2. 7/10