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Movie Review: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-Part 1

November 18, 2011

So let’s just get this out of the way from the get go, shall we?  SPOILER ALERT!!!!  This series has been out since 2008, people.  If you haven’t read all the books yet, then why the hell do you even care about the review of this movie?!

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve never thought the novels are that great.  They were engrossing and Stephenie Meyer is gifted at pacing, but she is a pretty horrible writer.  If I had to read “his eyes tightened” one more time, I was going to throw the book across the room!  I firmly believe what draws my demographic (female, 35-40 years old) to this series is that it stirs up memories in us of a simpler time in life when we were experiencing first love.  We get misty eyed and wistful about how unguarded and not cynical we were in our first in-love experience.

What I’ve always admired about screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg (Dexter, The O.C., Party of Five) is her ability to boil away all of Stephenie Meyer’s drivel and hit just enough of the high points that the movies are not missing anything.  I’ve had friends that watched the first 2 or 3 movies and asked if I thought they should go back and read the corresponding book(s).  I answered with a resounding “NO!  Don’t waste your time”.  The deftness of Rosenberg’s distillation of the books is all you need.  Her skills are on full display in Breaking Dawn. Let’s get started, shall we?

The first major event is the wedding.  It is beautiful.  Bella (Kristen Stewart) looks amazing, albeit borderline too skinny.  Edward (Robert Pattinson) is heartbreakingly handsome as the groom.  There are a couple great nods to the soundtracks of the other movies:  “Flightless Bird, American Mouth”, which played in Twilight while Bella and Edward danced in the gazebo plays during the vows; the string quartet at the reception plays “My Love” which was playing in Eclipse when Edward proposed.

Bella and Edward’s honeymoon is sweet.  It’s nice to see Edward happy and smiling for a change.  There’s an effortless chemistry between the two actors, no doubt helped along by their alleged real life romance.  Because Meyer is Mormon, Edward and Bella couldn’t get busy until after they were married. Yawn.  By the time I had suffered through three books worth of their sexual tension, I was cocked and ready for finally some good sexy time with our favorite couple.  Denied!  The candy-assed Mormon pulled the literary equivalent of showing the couple kissing, fading to black and fading back in on the couple naked from the armpits up in the bed.  Booooo!  I wondered if the filmmakers would push the envelope here and I’m happy to report they did – kinda.  The movie earns its PG-13 by showing as much hot, bed-breaking steaminess as they can without alienating the fan base and their Moms.

Another way they earned their PG-13 was with the gore.  The night before her wedding, Bella has a nightmare that she has killed everyone she knows and the scene is jarring in a good way compared to the preposterous lack of gore in this VAMPIRE series.  Bella’s pregnancy is also disturbing.  She looks worse with each scene.  I hope the bones protruding from every part of Stewart’s body were the result of movie magic because girlfriend had to have starved herself nearly to death to look that bad!  The scene where Bella drinks blood for the first time was cringe inducing in the book and even more so in the movie.  There was a collective gasp in the theater.  The birth scene is fairly graphic and bloody and Bella’s transformation is done in a really cool way. The last shot of the movie is crazy awesome.  It gave me chills.

The book spent a ton of time on a super-boring subplot involving Jacob (Taylor Lautner) and the wolf pack.  Page after page of dialogue in italics, because the pack members can hear each other’s thoughts when they are in wolf form.  Luckily, that nonsense is mostly gone from Breaking Dawn.  However, the scene in which Jacob reclaims his rightful place as Alpha was one of the dumbest fucking things I have ever seen in my life!  I was embarrassed for everyone involved in the making of this sequence.  It was beyond moronic.

When I heard they were splitting the last book into two movies I thought A) Shameless money grab and B) Why?  The second half of the novel was so goddamn BORING I couldn’t imagine how they would fill an entire movie with the happenings of the second half.  So we’ll see where they go with Part 2.  The only other thing I’ll say in that regard is STAY FOR ALL OF THE ENDING CREDITS!

This is by far the best and most satisfying movie of the series so far.  It looks great, the acting is less wooden and silly, there are great moments of humor, the plot zips right along and there’s good suspense and gore.  If you’re a fan, run right out and see this movie.  If you’re not a fan, you’re probably not even still reading this, so there’s your answer!

Rating 4/5

The Twilight Saga:  Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is rated PG-13.  Directed by Bill Condon.  Written by Melissa Rosenberg.  Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner.


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One Response to “ Movie Review: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-Part 1 ”

  1. Marcie on November 18, 2011 at 8:23 am

    I agree with you for the most part, after seeing the movie last night. The whole werewolf scene like you mentioned is just horrible. The whole “fake in a tunnel voices” had me cringing. It looked like some bad 80′s cartoon.

    Where we disagree, is that I thought the acting was even more horrible in this movie. I thought Kristen Stewart was the worst actress in the universe until I saw Leah in this movie. HORRIBLE!! Edward and Carlisle are the only decent actors in the movie.

    I’m a huge Twilight fan though, so of course I enjoyed it and will see it again. I thought they did a great job showing Bella slowly dying. It was graphic, but so was the book. The honeymoon scene was a let down. All that buildup, for pretty much nothing. It was more comical and ridiculous with the broken bed than it was steamy and romantic.

    I’m looking forward to the last movie just to actually see Bella as a vampire. Maybe Kristen’s acting will improve with the transformation :)