Old 11-18-2011, 10:15 PM
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1

Witnessing the end of a cinematic phenomenon can be bittersweet. Usually itís the feeling surrounding the conclusion of a long running series, and the sense that we have all experienced something great. This was so with the recent wrap-up of the Harry Potter series, and the joy that came with witnessing the quality of the films and the respect given to the characters over its 10 year running course. Not so is the case with ĎTwilightí, Or The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 as it officially (and long windedly) called. Much like the aforementioned wizardís final bow, this tween opus has seen itís finale split into two films. And if you have any desire to know of a back-story, then this clearly isnít the film for you as this very much caters towards an audience that is eerily informed on the trio of stories that came before.

Not wasting any time on opening credits, and managing to slip in a shirtless shot from brooding werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner), Breaking Dawn begins in the lead up to the moment everyone (or at least the plethora of teenagers who are entranced by this lunacy) has been waiting for: the wedding of Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart). The ceremony scene itself is dragged out, but thankfully allows for some intentionally humorous quips from the guests (one of note being Anna Kendrick as Bellaís highschool chum Jessica) before the two are whisked away on their honeymoon. For some reason they stop off in Rio (a plot point that adds nothing but some nice scenery shots) before shacking up in a beachside estate on the Cullen familyís private island.

Given that the Breaking Dawn novel was quite adult in its themes and depictions, there was always going to be a lot of hype surrounding the inevitable consummation of Edward and Bellaís nuptials, and while this couldíve been handled in an intimate and honest way, the filmmakers opt to talk down to the audience, even moreso than usual, and treat this moment like itís a cute montage to a Katherine Heigl romcom. And then when Edward realises heís physically hurt Bella during their sessions, he cowers whilst she presses for more. Maybe itís just me but relating physical abuse to such a tender notion isnít the smartest impression to imprint on an impressionable audience. Following all the wedding night drama, Bella finds herself suddenly pregnant with a half-demon/half-human baby that grows at a rapid rate, and itís her downward spiral towards delivery that the rest of the film focuses on, shifting its tone dramatically in the process.

Admittedly the scenes revolving around Bella and her pregnancy add some much needed weight to the film as the effects used to make Stewart appear gaunt and frail as her character loses her lifeforce are impressive and almost sickly real, and it helps that support players like Elizabeth Reaser (as the motherly figure to the Cullens) and Nikki Reed (as Bellaís new sister-in-law Rosalee) are given something substantial to do (unlike the previous series entries where they were mere window-dressing) as they attempt to nurse Bella back to health.

Given how much they had to work with in the novel, itís a shame so much was skipped over in favour of trying to make this as melodramatic as possible. The film does score points for approaching some of the subject matter regarding the pregnancy with deadpan seriousness (Edward using his teeth on Bella during her delivery being one prime example), but all the silly postcard type love shots from the wedding and honeymoon scenes couldíve been trimmed to give Edwardís backstory on the men he killed as a newly turned vampire the proper treatment it deserved. Instead itís a quick 2 minute interlude that ends up adding little to the story.

I really shouldnít be surprised at this point given that each film seems more frustrating than the last, and it goes without saying that Stewart, Pattinson and Lautner are all painful to watch perform, but they have tapped into the psyche of what tweens want and unfortunately we still have one more film to go (set for release November 2012) before itís officially time to say goodbye, a moment that canít come soon enough.

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