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


The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 movie review
Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1
Photo: Summit Entertainment

I can’t judge the Twilight movies the same way I judge other movies any longer. There is just no way I can give them that kind of respect. They are not movies and this, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, is even less than half of a movie. This first part of the final chapter in the Twilight Saga is an idea for, at most, 30 minutes of a film. Never before have I seen a movie in which the editing process was ignored to the point we get a dramatic closing of a trash can lid as this sleeping exercise lasts almost two hours.

My screening was packed to the gills with buzzing fangirls, but it quickly became apparent why everyone was there, to laugh, giggle and poke fun at what may be the grandest cinema con job in the history of film. Summit Entertainment has managed to build a four year empire of box-office success after lucking out into adding Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling novels to their stable of film adaptations. But at this point it would seem not even the most ardent of fangirls are taking it seriously, as much as they are accepting the fact they’ll have to see their beloved characters leap off the page and onto the big screen in the most ridiculous of fashion.

In this fourth installment we begin as Edward the vampire (Robert Pattinson) and Bella the human (Kristen Stewart) are preparing to walk down the aisle. Upon hearing the news, Jacob the werewolf (Taylor Lautner) does as anyone would do in such a situation, he runs out into the pouring rain in a huff, rips off his shirt, transforms into a CG wolf and runs off to the wilds of Canada. Don’t worry, he’ll come back, they always do.

Meanwhile, the wedding must go on. The honeymoon must happen. And the sexual tension is at an all-time high as Edward must ravish his beautiful bride as the ice cold vampire appears to have enough warm blood left in him to get the job done in a headboard smashing sex scene that actually turns out to be far tamer than the rather gruesome finale that is to come. You see, Edward may be a cold-blooded, dead vampire, but his demon seed swims on and Bella is now preggers.

What? How can this be? Carlisle can this even be possible? The answer is yes, and after Edward’s clenched moments of perceived constipation and Googling of “vampire baby”, the final 90 or so minutes of this nearly two hour film have us watch as whatever is growing inside Bella begins to eat at her from the inside. News of the baby isn’t taken too kindly in the wolf pack however, as Jake’s clan have every intention of killing the baby before it can be born. I’m not exactly sure I understood why they wanted to kill the baby, but my guess it’s because nothing else was happening so that little plot development was tossed in for fun as a counter to the endless emo rock songs that dominate the canvas.

Boil it all down and Edward and Bella get married, Bella gets pregnant and Bella has a baby. This is to say, what may take up 15 minutes in a normal film now dominates 115 minutes in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1.

There are, however, moments of sheer screenwriting brilliance (I’m being sarcastic now) such as when Bella describes her thought process when naming the baby, be it a boy or a girl. If it’s a boy, she’ll name it E.J. “For Edward and Jacob,” (duh!) but if it’s a girl, she tells us as she looks longingly into Edward’s golden eyes, “I’ve been playing with our mothers’ names. Renee and Esme… I came up with Renesmee.” Gasp and shudder! That’s brilliant! You have been “playing” with names. It’s not as if you just put the two names together, you moved the second “e” around. Clever girl, no one will ever get a jump on you.

This “film” is a mess of epic proportions, but it all begins with the story. I have only read the first of Meyer’s “Twilight” books so I have no idea how bad things got as the series continued, but to suggest what I watched on screen should be considered and respected as a movie is laughable. Then again, that’s what my audience did the majority of the time. They laughed. They laughed at Bella’s name game, they laughed at Edward and Bella’s awkward moonlight skinny-dipping and they laughed as the members of Jacob’s wolf pack attempted to act, particularly Booboo Stewart and Julia Jones, though Stewart and Jones can at least boast far more lines than Jackson Rathbone whose performance got a big chuckle as he got the first of the three words he speaks as the vampire Jasper over an hour into the film.

I wonder what it must be like to read through a script, see you are in several scenes and once you finally have dialogue all you have to say is, “Possibly!” Rathbone’s second and final line is two times better, because it’s two words, “We’re outnumbered!” They couldn’t even give him four total, one of the words had to be a contraction. You just have to feel sorry for him at that point.

To give the film a little credit, the effects done on Bella as she slowly withers away into nothing, as the demon spawn in her belly eats away at her, rival the effects done in Captain America when they gave Chris Evans the body of a ten-year-old boy. Although, Bella not only looks like she weighs 45 pounds, her appearance is no better as her cheekbones become visible, her lips crack and her eyes sink back into her skull. It’s quality, gruesome work by the effects team.

Otherwise, my praise ends there. More than any of the previous Twilight films, Breaking Dawn – Part 1 was an outright bore. Laughing at uninspired dialogue and cliched marriage quotes such as, “They always say the first year is the hardest,” (hardy har har) isn’t even enough fun to get you through. If there was ever a film you were meant to talk through entirely this is the one. Audiences should be urged to poke fun at what they see on screen to make the passing time more enjoyable.

Watching Bella and Edward play chess isn’t entertaining and laughing as he avoids her because he’s scared of hurting her whilst in the throes of sexual passion is only funny for so long. It’s one thing to be a bad film, but to be this boring at the same time is just insulting.