By: Garrett Collins
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Gil Birmingham, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Ashley Greene and Sarah Chalke
In a way, I can see why a series like Twilight is successful. We live in a society in which things for teenage girls to grab hold of are in small demand. There are either great kids films (Pixar), comic book films (Iron Man) or adult dramas (Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series). All things that are not very identifiable to your typical girl going through the pubescent stage of life. So, after Stephanie Meyer’s initial novel and its eventual sequels were turned into a series of phenomenally successful movies (the four films have grossed over $2 billion combined), it kind of felt refreshing to see that young people were talking about and reading the books they were based on. And, then I tried reading the first one. Look, as a writer myself, I could not imagine writing something that would even come close to the phenomenon Twilight has become. But, in the course of reading this treachery of paper, I realized that I was engulfed in the world of a woman who giggles like a little school girl with every proceeding new character and situation she writes down. What does all of this have to do with Breaking Dawn Part 1, you ask? Well, Twilight to me started as an involving concept with the first film, but proceeded to develop into a giggling fit with the next two. Would Breaking Dawn Part 1, armed with Oscar-winning director Bill Condon, refurnish Twilight‘s decaying furniture?
In a word, no. Breaking Dawn Part 1 is not the boring mess the last two films were. It was just an over-stylized one. The film wastes no time getting Lautner’s shirt off and thrusting us into his feelings of jealousy at the wedding of Edward (Pattinson) and Bella (Stewart), the woman they both love. Speaking of Lautner, he has now armed himself with a permanent scowl instead of the smile he oh so prominently displayed earlier in the series. There is no in between with this guy, and it is sad that a director such as Condon didn’t at least try to coax a little more of a varied emotional performance out of him. In fact, the only thing worse than seeing him give speeches as himself is when he gives them through a CGI wolf. And, the very entrusting storyline involving Bella’s depressing attempts to sleep with Edward are difficult viewing to say the least. As someone who has actually stood up for Stewart and her acting ability on a number of occasions, I have no defense for her performance here. She embarrasses herself on more than one occasion in Breaking Dawn Part 1, not the least of which is her delivery of the line ‘I think it’s impossible, but I think I may be pregnant’ while on the phone. All kidding aside, it is perhaps the most horrified I have ever been while watching a legitimate non-horror film.
The fact that Condon (Kinsey, Dreamgirls) could not salvage a good film from this script (once again penned by Dexter writer Melissa Rosenberg) says a lot. I happen to like the way he unravels stories, and it makes me sad that he had no less than five montages and a pop song every ten minutes to work around. When a story consists of Edward looking up babies and vampires on the internet for the first half and the center character doing nothing but lay down pregnant and sick the last, it makes for some tough onscreen storytelling, and I think he did what he could. However, Condon did have a few bright spots. The dream involving digital rose pedals is perhaps the most bloody and interesting scene of the series so far. And, I dug the storylines involving Rosalie, as well as Edward and Leah’s mistrust for one another. But, really, from Bella having a tough time with what could be inside her (what is she expecting, a Brundle-Fly-esque larva?) and yet more bad dialogue (‘you kill her, and you kill me’), it was impossible to think the consistently disappointing storyline would become any more consistent.
To me, the bottom line when it comes to the Twilight franchise is that it is simply something with very talented people cutting loose nary any hints of internal talent for the sake of pleasing the audience it is written for. And, by the time the cliffhanger of Breaking Dawn Part 1 rang its bell in the film’s final frame, it felt so convoluted and thrown together that I just could not bring myself to care. To all Twi-hards out there, I am sorry. I really do not mean to put your franchise down, and anyone who knows me knows me well knows that I went into this journey of films looking to give them a chance. A chance I did. But, cook I did not. And, in the end, I was just left feeling raw.
2.5 out of 5