THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN- Part One
RUNNING TIME:117 mins
DISTRIBUTED BY:Summit Entertainment
REVIEWED BY:Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
Edward and Bella are about to marry, but Jacob turns down his offer of invitation and leaves for Canada. The ceremony proceeds initially without hiccup, but in the evening Jacob turns up and has a row with Edward when he angrily voices his concern about the chance of Bella getting injured and even killed by being with Edward. The couple spend their honeymoon at a private island in Brazil, where they have sex for the first time. In the morning, Bella wakes up with injuries and Edward initially refuses to make love to her again, despite Bella saying she loved the experience, until after a few days she gives in. The next day, Bella realises that she is pregnant……
I have the feeling that, in a year’s time, I may re-read this review of Breaking Dawn and wonder what drugs I was on when I wrote it, because I really didn’t find the film that bad. Of course, it isn’t good either, but I don’t know………..maybe it’s because having recently sat through condescending rubbish like Straw Dogs, The Three Musketeers and Immortals, Breaking Dawn seems almost reasonable by comparison, maybe it’s because I’m feeling generous, maybe I’ve gone soft, I just don’t know. The previous three Twilight movies were all pretty poor, and I sometimes felt like some kind of insane masochist for seeing the second and third ones, but this fourth episode really is a little better. It seems that many Twilight fans dislike the book upon which it was based, and many others dislike this film for changing too much of the book, so those two facts, in themselves, should tell you that this film isn’t quite so awful! As I have already said, it’s not really a good film either, but I didn’t come away hating it as I expected.
One thing the movie still is, is extremely slow. Of course that need not be a bad thing if other aspects make up for it, or the film has a certain atmosphere, or the story is better told this way, but with this tale, for it to work at all, it needed some kind of increasing momentum, and for much of its running time, it just doesn’t have it. Thinking back, I think the second and third movies would have worked much better if they had been combined into one film, so little actually happens, and Breaking Dawn really seems to have suffered by the decision to only film the first half of the book and make the second half next year. Everything just seems interminably stretched out. Still, for most of the time, it plods along in a not entirely unpleasant way. The outdoor wedding has a certain romantic charm about it, and it’s rather refreshing to see Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson being given the chance to behave more like real people and display a wider range of emotions. In fact, I don’t think Pattinson does his stupid constipated stare once! Sadly, the two are just not up to the task, with Pattinson just as wooden as before and Stewart spending most of the film with her mouth open [though it’s a nice mouth, so I can almost forgive her]. She also doesn’t seem to even try to convey the fear and horror of something growing inside you which could be really unpleasing! Since Stewart was a capable child actress, and Pattinson’s other performances have been spoken well of [I haven’t dared to experience them yet], I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s more the material that has inspired such weak acting.
Of course there are the innumerable repetitive confrontation scenes where characters have a go at each other, and a really dumb bit where the werewolves, in their wolf forms, talk to each other. I have no objection to talking animals in the appropriate films, but it’s just hilariously out of place here, and the mouths don’t even move, while Carter Burwell scores the scene with really intense, dramatic music, making the scene even funnier. After the incredibly tame love scene [which was apparently re-edited after the first cut got an ‘R’ rating, but in this version it may as well be a ‘PG’], we get into the pregnancy part of the story, and for the first time in the series, there is a little bit of mounting dread. Of course, it’s hardly Rosemary’s Baby, but it’s done better than you might expect, and climaxes with a birth scene that is surprisingly unpleasant. We don’t see much at all, but director Bill Condon concentrates mainly on close ups of people’s faces, and it’s all quite intense. Sadly, the CG baby’s face is horrendous, and then, we have, quite simply, the sickest plot device you could imagine in a film aimed at teenage girls. I won’t go into detail, but it seems to me to nothing less than a case of paedophile grooming, and just seems wrong on every level. Considering how little true darkness there is in these films, I can only assume that original author Stephanie Meyer couldn’t think of a decent way to get Jacob back more into the story so just though “the hell with it” and just go sicko.
Condon gives us a striking dream scene where Bella has a bloody dream concerning the wedding and some of the film has a nice pretty hue about it – by some margin this is the nicest to look at of all the films – but I would be lying if I didn’t say that the best bit was a three second clip from Bride Of Frankenstein, which had already appeared in Condon’s Gods And Monsters! And once again, what little action there is, is shot with whirling cameras and quick shots so you can’t see what’s going on. I am so sick of this, I mean what ever happened to filmmakers actually showing us what’s happening? The CG effects are quite poor though, and I can’t understand why so little effort appears to have been made throughout the whole series in this area. Aside from Pattinson and Stewart, the acting, generally, is adequate, and Burwell’s score is quite compelling, though it seems like almost every scene is scored, and the scenes that aren’t are instead peppered with the weediest, ‘emo’ pop music you can imagine. One of my biggest gripes about these films is the stupid and unconvincing love story at their centre. Strange as it may seem, even though I write for Horror Cult Films, I can appreciate a good romance from time to time, be it Casablanca or The Notebook, but I’ve never bought Twilight’s. In this episode, the couple behave a bit more normally, but still have no chemistry whatsoever [despite being a couple in real life], and I don’t even want to think too much about what it all actually says. I’ve read that the main message of Twilight is that anyone, even if you’re a vampire or a werewolf, has a right to fall in love and be loved. It seems to me more a case of, a girl must have a man, regardless of how dangerous they might be, I mean Bella seems to be mostly defined by Edward and Jacob’s actions. Of course millions of Twi-fans will disagree with this! Still, I didn’t find Breaking Dawn nearly as much as an ordeal as I expected. That doesn’t mean I’m looking forward to Part Two though!