Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Drama,Horror,Romance Movie Review of ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1’ (2011)

Movie Review of ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1’ (2011)

It has become the new “in” thing to hate the Twilight saga, to the extent that it would almost seem the fans are actually in the minority. The hate is also very justified. Unlike unfairly bashed great movies like James Cameron’s Titanic, those involved in creating Twilight just do not seem to care; the writing is poor and unfocused, the characters are superficial, the dialogue is beyond awful, and all of the directors who have helmed a Twilight instalment exhibit minimal grasp on critical filmic concepts such as pacing and narrative momentum. And here we are yet again, with 2011’s The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 once more demonstrating that this stillborn franchise is still not worth a damn. Once again scripted with detrimental fidelity by Melissa Rosenberg, this fourth Twilight film is livened at times by moments of unintentional hilarity, but for the most part it’s an agonising bore.

After three movies of brooding stares and playing hard to get, Bella (Kristen Stewart) and vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) are at long last set to be married, but this upsets angsty werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who still clings to the hope that he has a shot with the girl who rejects him all the time yet takes every opportunity to teasingly lead him on. Following the disturbing ceremony, the newlyweds set off on their honeymoon to the Cullen’s private island (?) in Brazil (??) for the long-awaited sexual intimacy. Bella unexpectedly falls pregnant, leaving the family bewildered and stressed, especially as the unborn grows as an exponential rate and seems to be attacking its mother from the inside (yes, these moments are every bit as hilarious as you can imagine). The werewolf clan decide to kill Bella and the baby for reasons too vague to go into, which prompts Jacob to take Bella’s side, wanting to protect the manipulative whore who continually shows that she doesn’t care about him.

The first three instalments in the Twilight saga gave Stephenie Meyer the opportunity to spread her Mormon (moron?) propaganda about abstinence, but Breaking Dawn actually begins with Bella and Edward tying the knot, meaning that the couple can at last engage in coitus (never mind that one of them is a walking corpse). Thus, the abstinence lecture has been replaced with anti-abortion propaganda. See, Edward wants Bella to terminate the baby, and even recruits Jacob to help convince her, but Bella is determined to martyr herself for the sake of the unborn foetus, for no reason other than because Stephenie Meyer is against abortion.

Because the Twilight movies have proved so lucrative for Summit Entertainment, and because they wanted to milk the cash-cow for everything it was worth, Breaking Dawn has been split into two features, a decision that only renders the experience excruciating rather than epic or rich. With the studio-mandated two-hour runtime in mind, Rosenberg and director Bill Condon slacken the pace to focus on superfluous dialogue and insignificant details that could easily have been excised. The dialogue is particularly subpar here, lacking so much as a modicum of wit. As with every Twilight movie, nothing happens in Part 1 until the last ten minutes. Okay, so some stuff does happen, but the events of this feature could have easily been compressed into a 30-minute opening act of a single cinematic adaptation of Breaking Dawn.

The Breaking Dawn novel is actually regarded as the instalment that even the fans dislike, as it’s no longer a brooding high school romance but rather a convoluted fantasy-horror story that’s also completely crazy. For those unaware, this is a story involving vampire-on-human sex (which leads to the bed breaking), an undead vampire being able to impregnate a human female (lol), and Edward giving Bella an emergency C-section with his fucking teeth. Such lunacy had the potential to make for a riotously campy motion picture, but because this film is PG-13, everything is muted and boring. At the helm here is Bill Condon, who has actually made some good movies in the past, but he clearly phones this one in. Breaking Dawn is visually drab and flat, carrying the look and feel of a low-rent television soap opera as opposed to a big theatrical release. To his credit, Condon does get comic mileage out of several scenes (intentional or otherwise), but there is only so much a director can do with this material. This is why theTwilight films are doomed with this set of producers and writers: a director is forced to include hundreds of pensive stares and as much cheesy dialogue as possible, forbidding them from producing their own spin on the story. Boldness is thus renounced in favour of bland fidelity, because it guarantees more bums in cinema seats.

The comedic highlight of Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is easily a scene in which CGI werewolves talk to each other, with Jacob being defiant, raising his voice and bickering with the others. It’s one of the most unintentionally hilarious scenes of 2011, with the studiously hyperbolic voice acting, the awfully phoney digital effects, and the fact that the wolves are apparently speaking telepathically (???) since they aren’t mouthing the words they say (???). Another highlight is the “birth” scene, when the infamous C-section occurs, brought to life with cinematography and editing to retain the PG-13 rating that winds up looking like an LSD trip. Similarly, Bella lapses out of consciousness, and the sight of Edward simply pushing in Bella’s chest yelling “Come on!” looks completely, hilariously pointless. But the crowning achievement is the moment in which Jacob falls in love with Bella’s infant daughter. It’s such an unmotivated, WTF moment, and Condon executed it with maximum comedic impact, to the extent that the CGI newborn actually acknowledge Jacob’s attraction. This reviewer was sobbing with laughter.

Against all odds, it would seem that the Twilight performers are only getting worse with each new film, sticking by the same old acting chestnuts and refusing to learn from their mistakes. Typical high school drama productions feature more convincing acting than the “performances” glimpsed here. Stewart and Pattinson were a real-life couple by the time this film was shooting, yet they still don’t feel like credible lovers. They share no chemistry, and it doesn’t help that the actors have seriously limited range, unable to properly convey emotions through facial expressions. Canines are more expressive, for fuck’s sake. Lautner, meanwhile, continues his downward spiral, hitting rock bottom with this terrible performance full of forced intensity and blank expressions. Miraculously, Lautner only removes his shirt once during the entire movie. Progress at last! None of the other actors are worth mentioning, really. Everyone in the cast is so awkward and flat; they seem like aliens trying to impersonate human behaviour, spouting the most woeful dialogue imaginable in a forced fashion. It’s also amusing to note that despite the intrusive score and the amusingly self-serious performances, this reviewer was utterly unaffected by everything; at no point did anything move me to tears, or even provoke goosebumps. It only prompted me to sleep.

Arguably, Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is the most tolerable Twilight movie so far, but only due to how unintentionally humorous it is at times. It’s also exciting that with four pictures down, there is only one more agonising Twilight movie for this reviewer to endure. Still, Part 1 is appalling, and it fast becomes a chore to sit through with its monstrous running time. You’d be better off watching a few clips of the film’s funniest moments as opposed to suffering the entire thing. In the right hands, Breaking Dawn could have been a beautifully campy treat, but Condon can only give the picture life at times, and even then it’s difficult to ascertain whether or not he expected any of this shit to be taken seriously. Then again, nobody can take this shit seriously, and if any filmmaker expected such nonsense to be taken with a straight face…they failed.

2.8/10

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