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  • Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (The Twilight Saga) | Review

    By | November 21, 2011

    Director: Bill Condon

    Writers: Melissa Rosenberg (Screenplay), Stephenie Meyer (novel)

    Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Nikki Reed, Ashley Greene, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Kellen Lutz, Jackson Rathbone

    I read the entire Twilight series while home for my winter break from graduate school and found them to be a welcome respite from the heavy theory I’d been reading throughout the semester.  The first film was just coming out and I thought it was a decent adaptation.  I’m not sure what the hell went wrong with the rest of the films but they certainly didn’t make any improvements.  While I realize films are rarely as good as the books they are adapted from, the Twilight films are so bad they’re almost insulting.

    Breaking Dawn Part 1, the first part of the fourth installment of the series, definitely improves upon the last but then how could it not?  Still, I find it difficult to believe that anyone could like this film had they not read the book.  Director Bill Condon continues with the overuse of close-up direction, often to the detriment of the tops of heads.  It’s a cheap trick to add drama to moments and it fails to work the majority of the time, mostly because of its overuse.

    Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) weds, at the wise age of eighteen, her vampire love, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson).  This causes her best friend Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) much heartache and despair.  Jacob also happens to be the mortal enemy of Edward and the rest of the Cullen family as he is a werewolf.  Kristen Stewart seems incapable of any emotion other than slight, open mouth disbelief.  Pattinson and Lautner are more convincing as their characters, but following suit, Condon spends too much time closing in on Jacob’s and Edward’s sullen faces and exposed chests.

    After walking down the aisle and saying “I do,” Bella and Edward jet off to Isle Esme off the coast of Brazil, a private island owned by the Cullen family. As with most newlywed teenagers, sex is a significant part of the honeymoon experience. Edward is reluctant, for fear of hurting Bella, but easily convinced to at least try.  It’s a tender yet comical moment for the two and one of the few scenes of the film that’s not overly contrived.  But you know what happens with unprotected sex?  Pregnancy. 

    This brings me to the atrocious dialogue and ubiquitous cheesy background music.  When Bella explains to Jacob that she’s pregnant, I almost burst into laughter.  I realize teenagers are overly dramatic, but the dialogue, complete with long pauses and gazes, is just absurd. And what are we teaching young women about sex and marriage?

    The dramatic transformation of Bella’s body through CGI was also over the top.  She goes from having an island vacation tan to looking like a pale grey corpse due to her baby’s nourishment preference.  I will say while the plot moves along, it lacks any real substance.  There is little explanation about how Bella and Edward are able to conceive a child (uh, he’s technically dead, right?).  The fast friendship between Bella and Rosalie (Nikki Reed), Edward’s acerbic sister, also lacks explanation.

    The ending is well-timed, ending at the perfect place for the last film of the series to pick up from. My hope for Condon’s Breaking Dawn Part 2 is that the new Bella finally is given some substance and that the audience isn’t once again treated to such banal dialogue and direction.

    Rating: 3/10

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