Though The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 doesn’t feature the wrap up of the series, it does get to something the series has been building to since day one: Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) finally putting their desires to bed. And for the couple it is literally a bed-breaking event, one that leads to pregnancy. As a film Breaking Dawn Part 1 classes up the joint by adding Oscar winning writer-director Bill Condon to the mix, but for those hoping for something that might rise above the material, they’re going to be sorely disappointed. For the fans, it’s likely everything they want.

The Players:

The Plot:

It’s time. Bella (Stewart) and “Team” Edward Cullen (Pattinson) are tying the knot so she can finally become a part of the Cullen family. “Team” Jacob (Lautner) wants no part of it, but decides to make a late appearance anyway. His clan is still upset with the Cullens, but currently they have a fragile peace. Edward and Bella go on an exotic honeymoon, and finally couple in an event that leaves her bruised and the bed broken. But as she feels weird, it becomes apparent that Bella is now pregnant with a vampire baby.

Full Disclosure:

I have only seen the first two films and haven’t read the books.

The Good:

  • Slightly Better: The jokes are funnier, the acting’s a little less stiff, and they managed to have the shortest running time of series. It has the more polished tone of the later films, but with the fun (and some of the camp) of the first film. The wedding sequence has some great little zings and jags – with Anna Kendrick having a number of funny moments.
  • They Go There: I have heard about imprinting and the more daffy elements of the narrative beforehand, and they’re in there, and it’s just as strange and messed up as I was led to believe. I wish it was R-rated (few films this obsessed with blood and sex are not), but that was never going to happen. Still, it’s weird.

The Bad:

  • Telenovela: At this point in the narrative, there’s not a lot of drama, and the drama in the film probably means more to the faithful. I guess there’s another war brewing between vampires factions and werewolves, but it’s a minor section of the film. Instead, a good chunk of the film is dedicated to a wedding and a honeymoon. There’s nothing going on under the surface of these things, and when Edward confesses that he once killed people Bella says it’s no big deal and then it never comes up again. And then Bella gets pregnant, and it’s all about waiting for her to give birth (abortion is mentioned, quickly dismissed). Much like the other broken-up book of the last couple (Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows), it feels more like a collection of scenes than a film. And so you wait for Bella to come to term so something happens, because every time Jacob and his crew get antsy it gets resolved quickly.
  • If You Don’t Know Me By Now: Where a number of franchises make it easy to drop in on later chapters with relative ease (There are Aliens in outer space, Harry Potter’s in school), but with Twlight at this point the mythology is established and the audience is there. Nothing about Breaking Dawn is going to matter much to those who aren’t in for the ride. It’s just for the fans, and only for them.
  • Not for You: And to that point, this doesn’t really function as a film. The performers are never bad per se (even Taylor Lautner – once the hot property – who has probably 86′d his chances of too much work outside Twilight after Abduction), but there are no arcs. The same could be said for the film. Not even the pregnancy is used as a device. This is a filmed book. And what appears to be not a very good one, that covers half of a narrative, which would be about one and a half of a three act structure. When the film hits its conclusion, it doesn’t feel like a cliffhanger, as all tension is resolved from the incident itself.

Overall:

I guess this is functionally better than the previous films in terms of having scale and better quality of most everything, but this is a movie for people who already care. As an outsider it was dull, but relatively painless, sometimes insane and occasionally interesting, but only to a point.

Rating: 4.5/10

Breaking Dawn opens November 18.

Stills:

Trailer: