According to the box office and the previews, Breaking Dawn Part 1 is the number one movie in the world. Of course it’s no surprise, considering the mass appeal of the book series and the legions of teenage girls and their mothers who turn out for the midnight opening of each installment of the franchise. What I did find surprising, however, was just how badly splitting the last book into two movies worked.
Breaking Dawn Part I begins with preparations for the wedding of Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), while Bella’s best friend (who happens to shape-shift into a wolf), Jacob (Taylor Lautner) has disappeared in grief and anger over the event. After a large, beautiful outdoor wedding, Edward whisks Bella away to a honeymoon at a secret island off the cost of Rio de Janeiro. Although the honeymoon is mostly uneventful, the newlyweds face the disapproving and frightened housekeeper who knows what Edward is and fears for Bella’s life. Then, Bella finds herself pregnant and their wedded bliss turns to anxiety and anger as the couple fights over the fate of the fetus—what it will be yet unknown—who is killing Bella from the inside out. Back in Forks, Bella has to hide her return from her family, claiming she’s sick at a spa in the Alps. As the Cullen’s are split over what should be done about the pregnancy, Bella wastes away, and the Quileute wolf pack begins to hover. Bella’s death would provide them motive for taking out the Cullens for good.
At the risk of sounding juvenile, my primary reaction to Breaking Dawn Part I was “man, is this boring.” I can’t think of a good reason for splitting the book into two movies. The wedding and honeymoon drag and had the writers quickened the pace in those parts and made the movie two and a half hours long instead of just two, they could have finished the entire book in one more eventful installment. In doing so, however, they would have sacrificed at least hundreds of millions of dollars in box office revenue, not to mention DVD sales. And it is obvious that was the reason for splitting the book.
The acting in the Twilight Saga has never been exceptionally good, but the flatness that used to perhaps highlight teen angst (maybe) now just looks like the bad acting it is. It’s the happiest day of Bella’s life and Stewart looks bored. Bella is going to give birth to a monster baby and Stewart looks bored. By this point all the actors seem to have fallen into a rut with their characters, so that their reactions are predictable and poorly executed. Of course Charlie is giving Edward the stink-eye. Of course Jasper is nervous. And so on. If Taylor Lautner looks like is he turning out an inspired performance (which, in some parts he does), something is very wrong.
When I heard small children howling in laughter when Edward broke the bed on the honeymoon, I was alarmed. When the second half of the film basically turned into a horror movie I was even more so. Admittedly, I am kind of old school, but I think Breaking Dawn was pushing the PG-13 rating. Or maybe, parents were pushing it bringing children obviously too young for the subject material. Either way, although vampires in the world of Twilight are more sparkly than scary, just how much the pregnancy destroys Bella is frightening. As a person who likes horror movies, the birth itself was not scary enough for me. I would have liked to see something that paid more homage to monster births in old scary movies. As a person watching a PG-13 movie whose target audience is teenage girls, however, I was really concerned by how terribly, terribly gaunt Bella looked.
For a sluggish plot and bad acting, I rate Breaking Dawn Part 1 2/5 stars.
Breaking Dawn Part I was written by Melissa Rosenberg based on the novel by Stephanie Meyer and directed by Bill Condon. It runs 117 minutes and is rated PG-13 for disturbing images, violence, sexuality/partial nudity and some thematic elements.
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