Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn part 1 – review

Director: Bill Condon

Release date: 2011

Contains spoilers

For those who don’t know my position on the Twilight series let me lay my cards upon the table before reviewing this film. I actually appreciate the books… Stephenie Meyer might not be the best writer in the world – and you can look at the overtly puritanical sub-text all day – but she writes a good character. For the target audience they are great and they have (whether you like it or not) contributed to the intense popularity of vampires for the last few years.

When it comes to the films I am not so impressed. The first film was boring – and pretty poorly acted across the board. New Moon was atrocious with one redeeming feature in the form of Ashley Greene. Eclipse was better than New Moon, but still poor. The first thing to strike me about Breaking Dawn part 1 was the fact that it is part 1… the book has been split into two films.

wedding jitters
Could it be a cynical attempt to prize more money out of the fans? Quite frankly yes. If the other films were poorly paced this one went virtually nowhere for half its length, the entire Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) wedding and honeymoon was overly long and did nothing. Neither lead has the acting chops to make such a non-event sparkle (if you pardon the pun) and the entire thing made up fifty percent of the film and could have been dealt with in a considerably shorter time.

the happiest day of her life
Bella makes for one miserable bride, having dreamt of death and devastation the night before – wedding cold feet for one who seemingly wants to become a vampire. Worse still was the fact that Kristen Stewart makes Bella wear the one expression the actress seems capable of and such a miserable expression would cause any other groom to bolt from the altar.

oh dear...
So Bella and Edward get married, go on honeymoon, have sex (and Edward breaks the bed and gets moody about some bruising he caused) and Bella suddenly realises that she is pregnant. The pregnancy makes up the second half of this film. The local wolves believe the child to be an abomination and want to kill Bella and the child before it is born (and the pregnancy is rapid, Bella looking heavily pregnant after a couple of weeks). This rapid growth makes Jacob (Taylor Lautner) and Edward fear for Bella’s safety, especially as it seems to be draining her life from the inside out, and want her to abort. Erstwhile non-entity character Rosalie (Nikki Reed) becomes Bella’s protector and defender – but the film fails to explain why in any depth.

Jacob breaks from the wolf pack (taking a couple of them with him) and I had heard a lot of complaint about the inter-wolf communication whilst in wolf form. Let me just say it wasn’t as “Scooby-doo” as it was suggested to me but it did seem odd… after all this has not been a feature of the previous films and thus it felt out of place. The film ends, after a bloodless/deathless fight involving the rebel wolves alongside the vampires against the indignant wolves, on a damp squib; the indignant wolves leaving because Jacob imprints on the baby (which is the process in which a wolf falls for a mate) and thus the other wolves can’t attack the baby. This concept seemed ropey in the book and whilst the film does its best to distance itself by going on about being a brother and protector and showing the baby as a teen (Christie Burke) during the imprinting sequence, it still feels unsavoury… Nothing they could do however, the imprinting with the oddly named Renesmee is part of the book.

excellent makeup
I have to say that in the second half of this film we saw some of the best acting by Kristen Stewart that she has offered through the entire series. Her pained expression fits the painful thinness that the pregnancy induces – later they discover that her drinking blood helps support the baby and herself. Actually, the acting was probably more a testament to the makeup artist, Stewart just had to lie back and let the excellent makeup do the work for her.

red eyes
Beyond this there was nothing really to mention about the film. It is somewhat of a non-entity. The shocking view of Bella’s red vampire eyes as the final shot wasn’t shocking at all – we knew it was coming. It wasn’t offensive as a film, simply a non-event. 3.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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