For all the twi-hards out there, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 will be the culmination of all their hopes and dreams. For those still in possession of their wits, this film is not only the worst of the Twilight flicks so far, but just about the most melodramatic and insipid movie I‘ve ever watched.
In case you are not a follower of the Twilight Saga, the story surrounds a clumsy teen named Bella and her undying love for the sparkling vampire Edward. Based on a series of supernatural romance novels by the same name, the Twilight movies have disappointed from the beginning, but this latest installment (given the budget and buzz) is audaciously bad.
The first three Twilight movies saw Bella introduced, falling in love with the uber hunky vampire Edward, and then torn between him and her best guy friend who is also a werewolf, Jacob. There was also some vampire politics thrown in, sexy teen danger and first kisses; but none of the shenanigans of the first three movies (and books I assume) stands up to the events in Breaking Dawn (which filmmakers felt was so monumental that they had to break it up into two parts).
Breaking Dawn opens with Bella getting ready for her wedding to Edward. She’s made up her mind and she won’t be deterred. Though Edward loves her, he has long wanted to talk her out of her desire to become a vampire so they can be together forever. In the previous movies, Edward was at last brow-beaten into giving her what she wanted after her life was put in jeopardy by an Italian vampire clan; but he had one request, that they be lawfully married first.
Of course Jacob isn’t happy about the wedding, because he loves Bella and is obsessed with her though she keeps ejecting him to the “friends” zone over and over. When he finds out that she’s going to stay human through her honeymoon, he is outraged as he thinks vampire sex will kill her.
It turns out that it doesn’t kill her; not quite. Though Edward has to hold back so as not to do her to death, they successfully consummate (to the thrill of millions of tweens) their love. But when Bella discovers she’s preggers, a thing supposedly impossible, things get really strange.
The embryonic baby is a vamp, so it’s hungry for blood and the pregnancy is far from normal. It is slowly draining Bella of life, and despite Edward’s desire to get rid of it, Bella insists on protecting it.
Things look bleak for Bella, and she is told she will probably die because of the baby. Meanwhile, the werewolves are stirring up trouble as internal strife in their pack–caused by Jacob’s loyalty to Bella and her new vamp family–comes to a boiling point.
Despite some “grown up” events taking place in this installment, Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn has managed to maintain that ridiculous teenage-angst-meets-adolescent-fantasy feel. I mean, these are fashion plate sparkling vampires for goodness sakes. And yet, this episode in the series has some very disturbing events taking place, which are dealt with in a non-sparkly manner.
This makes for a disjointed final act, and the mix of high school melodrama and disturbing images towards the end of the film leaves me wondering what filmmakers were thinking. I mean, if this had been a brutal and violent vampire pic from the onset, fine. But this is a twinkly love story for teens, and the shots of a corpse-like Bella having her vamp baby literally bitten out of her womb by Edward’s fangs feels out of place and gratuitous.
I guess it’s not surprising that the script and dialogue were atrocious and soap opera-y, given that screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg has worked in TV writing for shows like Ally McBeal, Party of Five, and The O.C.. She has written the screenplays for all the Twilight films so far, and at least I can say the dialogue has been bad, but consistently bad.
Bella, the main character, has very few things to say when all is said and done. She is more prone to breathless lip smacking and worried looks than anything else. When there are romantic moments and tight scenes, lines like “It’s crushing you, from the inside out”, and “Touch me, please” fill the screen in melodramatic yet reticent splendor.
And now to touch upon the direction. Director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) shot Breaking Dawn like a Lifetime movie of the week. With the exception of the werewolf action scenes, the “staged” feel of the scenes is almost laughable. Every shot is an blatantly arranged affair, with vampires and humans standing just so, heads angled for maximum effect.
Any scene featuring a vampire had the bloodsucker in question practically posing, looking like a sexy goth model, or an ad for herione chic. The unnatural shots, cheesy scenery, and fake-looking vampire accessories (like colored contact lenses that looked like they were bought at a Walmart), make for a cheap-looking and amateurish film (in no way enhanced by the terrible CGI).
And a low budget can’t be blamed this time around for poor CG effects. The Twilight franchise is huge, and plenty of money was spared for this highly anticipated sequel, so the fact that the CGI is still abominable is a gross negligence on the part of the filmmakers. The werewolf effects not only are as bad as ever, but the added effect of their “inner voices” communication process was laughable.
Ok, filmmakers did wisely decide to reduce the sparkling vampire moments in this installment, but there were more than enough scenes to make up for the missing glitter. The bed-breaking sex scene will certainly stay with you (and not in a good way). All of the mayhem on screen is accompanied not only by an overly sentimental and drippy soundtrack, but the constant drone of insipid mood music in the background.
Like other popular franchises, The Twilight Saga peeps have decided to milk the movie-going public for every cent, and extend the final book in the series into two separate films. This means that both films, Breaking Dawn-Part 1 and Breaking Dawn-Part 2, will be overly long and necessarily overly melodramatic.
Kristen Stewart is up to her old tricks as Bella, lip chewing and all. Her performance hasn’t improved over the years, and her Bella is still uninspiring and slightly mysterious. I say mysterious, because there is little about her take on the character of Bella that would convince me that an eternal being of perfect beauty would fall in love with her over every other bumbling “average teen” at the highschool.
Taylor Lautner took off his shirt within the first few minutes of the movie (much to everyone’s surprise). His hunkiness is put to good use, and his Jacob (and I’m not taking teams) is a lot more charismatic than Robert Pattinson‘s Edward. Pattinson delivered a one-note performance, as usual, and his Edward relied on a series of deep stares and furrowed brows to carry him through the drama.
The audacity of the filmmakers to make this terrible of a movie has me almost speechless. I’ve seen better fan fiction backyard home videos. And I’m pretty sure the daytime TV sentimental mood music playing constantly in the background will haunt me for a long while yet, as will the wooden performances and sub-standard CGI. Unless you own and wear a “Team Edward” t-shirt on a regular basis, or have any pictures of sparkling vampires taped to your headboard, avoid this pic at all costs.