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

twilightbreakingdawn headerThe Twilight Saga is coming to an end with Breaking Dawn: Part 1 and while some are counting away the days till it is out of their lives it should be remembered as a series that missed opportunities to actually be interesting.

The film is an extended look at the first few weeks of Bella and Edward’s marriage and it stresses under the attempt to split the single book into two films.  Easily broken into three parts, the film encompasses the wedding, the honeymoon and the speedy pregnancy, giving us no real plot until it barely scrapes one together in the third act.  There was clearly no real reason to split this into two and the film’s quality is certainly sacrificed because of it.  The film is supposed to be the culmination of these two’s long delayed sexual desires and the results just fall flat.

From what I have heard about the books this chapter of the saga was supposed to be rather R-rated and the film is certainly PG-13.  The film practically glosses over the first time between the two and doesn’t get very sexy on top of that.  The film could be steamy without being graphic, but Bill Condon chooses to just let us see the aftermath of this supposedly epic sex romp.  Also being short changed due to the rating is the alleged graphicness and craziness of the birthing scene.  Through the hazy gaze of Bella’s POV they imply some nasty work by Edward, but had it been more graphic it could have made the moment far more interesting.

The film’s structure is also quite odd in that it races through plot and lingers on scenes of nothing.  The honeymoon sequence is a bloated mess, the wedding (while mostly quite good) runs a tad long, we see Bella looking miserable forever, and then when they reintroduce plot to the proceedings they rush through every element.  The plot didn’t have to be great; I just want to think about something once in awhile.

The movie also, again, has questionable CGI which is completely uncalled for in a billion dollar franchise.  Summit, why are you cutting corners anywhere with these films?  Sure some of the effects look good, but don’t short change a money shot (the baby’s face during the imprint) if you want us to have any sort of a reaction. No excuse.

The film also glosses over just about every interesting bit the story throws out there and I really miss getting to know the supporting characters’ pasts; like in Eclipse.  They tease us with one such flashback here, Edward’s human hunting days, and it is by far the most interesting thing introduce; too bad we only get a whole minute in this scene.

What did work for me?  The fight at the end was pretty good.  The music and score are great.  Condon and his cinematographer make sure this is the best looking film in the series and take full advantage of the Cullen home’s awesome architecture.  There is also a scene that would have been awesome, had the atrocious wolf pack voiceovers not made it almost terrible.

Acting wise everyone is consistent with the other films so I am not going to bother getting into it.  A house keeper on their honeymoon is a forced and horrible bit of acting though and none of the newcomers get time to do anything.  The wolf pack is also over exposed, even though they are only in a third of the film, and the film is tone deaf as it tries to interject humor at the most inopportune moments throughout the runtime.

In the end, leaving the theater I didn’t hate the film, but I was disappointed at the many missed opportunities.  Overly long and aimless, the film shouldn’t have been split in two and writing it up only makes the film’s shortcomings shine brighter.  I bet after seeing Part 2 it will be clear there was a solid movie in Breaking Dawn as a whole, but as it stands Part 1 has a lot of problems standing in its way from being able to stand on its own.  Awesome credits though!

Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is a D+

P.S. Please more Michael Sheen in part 2

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