Film Review: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1

twilight_breaking_dawn 1 headerTwo nights ago I had a dream that winged creatures were attacking my school, which for some reason looked like a castle.  As my friends were devoured in front of my eyes by hungry jaws (RIP Cassidy), I could not cower in fear because I had a mission.  That’s right, thanks to weeks of seeing Breaking Dawn – Part 1 trailers on TV, my dreams were being infiltrated, this time with Kristen Stewart.  As I did everything in an attempt to save her, I ended up sacrificing myself.  Clearly I should have gotten her to promise that she would not waste her life, because after seeing Breaking Dawn Part 1 I am really afraid I dream died in vain.

With the 4th book in the Twilight series coming to the big screen, or as I like to call it Breaking Dawn: Bella Contemplates Life in Mirrors, we find our vampire / human couple of Edward and Bella on the day before their wedding.  With only one day left to save Bella from a lifetime with a monster, Edward reveals a monstrous past he has kept for her, becoming forced moment #1 of the film.  I am no stranger to vampire brooding, and this is a nice idea in theory, but no matter how well the flashback worked on it’s own, it was far too forced in this moment.  Which begs one to wonder, why the heck are these two getting married?

Yes, they are in love, but this movie seemed to be bringing the relationship into question far more than necessary.  Starting with the wedding itself.  As Bella (Kristen Stewart) walks down the isle, she looks as if at any moment she is going to start sobbing and pulling away as her father drags her kicking and screaming by the wrist into a forced marriage.  As someone familiar with the Team Edward / Team Jacob divide, I understand the importance of the love triangle for this series, but once Bella has made the choice in marriage I think it is time to have this resolved more than it has been.  But instead of having the loving marriage starting off as such, it almost felt as if through it all she was more happy to see Jacob than her own husband, happily jumping into his arms as he arrives at the wedding (as opposed to the hardly visible smile when she sees Edward at the alter), or by later telling Jacob that with him there she is complete.  Come on Bella, stop being such a ho.

This sums up my biggest complaint as far as story content presentation goes, but the whole film felt like a lot of potential was just being ruined by poor choices.  Starting with the choice to break the film into two.  Because of this, this portion of the story feels rather stretched thin as the director reaches for anything that will help create something film length, throwing every movie making technique into the mix.  Here are a few of the biggest problem moments:

  1. As I mentioned before, the Edward flashback seemed rather forced into the story instead of being given the time it was due (such as Jasper’s flashbacks in the previous film).
  2. One more horrible choice prior to the wedding was shooting a dream sequence where Bella pictures the alter resting on a mound of bodies of her friends and family.
  3. We finally get to hear the wolves talk to each other telepathically.  Unfortunately the voiceovers just seemed so ridiculous in this moment as the wolves angrily paced around each other that this high intensity conversation of conflict came off as laughable.
  4. An imprinting sequence is shown through a series of images, such as a teen girl and rolling clouds.  I always wondered what this would be like, and I now know it is something similar to a perfume commercial parody.
  5. The use of CGI in order to physically show a change to a character was completely unnecessary, and in all honestly removed all of the impact of the final shot before the screen goes black.

I never thought I would say this, but in addition to Billy Burke and Anna Kendrick as the highlights of the majority of the film, Taylor Lautner actually pulled through far more than I ever expected him to.  Let me just put it this way, as a character I have always found Jacob to be extremely annoying, but for the first time I actually enjoyed his time on the screen.  I’d like to believe that it was just because he is improving as an actor, but that does not help me forget just how mediocre the inclusion of some of the other characters were (who will now be considered the “sit quietly in the background characters.”  I’m looking at you, Cullens).

Other than the expected great soundtrack to these films, Breaking Dawn – Part 1 brought the series back down a notch, or seven.  The series has always fluctuated in the level of satisfaction with the films, but following Eclipse I really thought they were heading for improvement.  But no, with a mass of misused opportunities, I can do nothing but wait for Part 2 to fix the mistakes of this film.

Final Grade: D+     

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