Friday, November 18, 2011

Breaking Dawn Part 1 Review

As I’ve mentioned numerous times, I had the luck of getting to see Breaking Dawn before the general public thanks to being a member of the AMC Stubs program, which is free, incidentally.  If you’re any kind of fan, you can guess what kind of audience was in attendance Thursday night, and how thankful we all were not to be seeing the movie at midnight, but at the much more reasonable time of 8 PM.

All of the Twilight movies follow the books of the same name, who’s basic plot device is girl is in love with vampire and they want to be together forever.  It is really a weak plot, to say the least, and the final book in the series came in at a whimper, while the middle two books, New Moon and Eclipse, both had legs to stand on, however enfeebled.  What followed once the unmemorable trailers played, save for one with Daniel Radcliffe for his upcoming horror movie, Woman in Black, was a beautifully rendered film of good looking people dealing with a difficult situation, which wasn’t worthy of two hours of my time.

The book, Breaking Dawn is terrible, and that is being generous.  For some reason, Twilight fans rejoiced when the movie version was predicted to be in two parts; to me, that seems like we’re prolonging the pain of sitting through a poorly thought out story.  Basically, we have Bella, our main protagonist and girl who can’t possibly make good decisions, in love with Edward, a vampire who aspires to be a caricature of a character with actual substance.  As always, the few good acting moments come courtesy of Taylor Lautner, but the traction comes more from Jacob being the only reasonable character of the three.  It seems that despite his low-level dog like alter ego, he is the only one with a good head on his shoulders.  I was happy to see Esme, Elisabeth Reed, get more face time; she is a wonderful mother figure for the Cullen clan and plays it beautifully.

The overall story can’t go far in this chapter of Twilight.  Bella marries Edward, he impregnates her with a demon/vampire child and it basically kills her.  What made this movie better than average, if you can even call it that, were the scenes that played into the various feelings Stephanie Meyer takes Bella through. 

There can be a lot to be said about Kristin Stewart’s acting, but I will give her credit where it is due.  The beginning of the movie opens up a little further along than the book, and the audience is placed at the Cullen home where Alice is making preparations for the wedding to take place on the following day.  Kristin Stewart, to me, embodied that terrifying moment where you stand on the very precipe of massive change to your life.  What will change your life more than being an adult, moving out of your parent’s house and choosing someone to be your partner for life?  It is a huge decision, and to watch Bella go through the motions: panic at first, utter terror as she watched the assembled crowd and then the elation and relief when she saw Edward standing at the end of the aisle.  Call me a hopeless romantic, but the sequence was picture perfect and I give Stewart all the credit in the world for pulling it off with such ease.

The only other fantastic scene, again with Kristin Stewart, is one of the few scenes in the book that is equally written well, to a degree.  After Edward and Bella make it to Island Esme (the stupidest name Meyer could come up with no doubt), Bella takes a moment to ready herself for the consummation of the marriage, and it is hilarious.  I would never peg Stewart as having any sort of concept of timing, but the scenes are alone and she takes all kind of preparations, finally admonishing herself for being a coward, and heading out in nothing, as Alice packed only skimpy outfits.

The chemistry between Stewart and Robert Pattinson is much more palpable in this movie than in any of the others, and the subject matter, which is not appropriate for all ages, caters to that.  This movie won’t win any substantive awards, won’t satisfy curiosity and isn’t much to stand on, but of all the Twilight movies out, this one has the most merit in character development and substance.

The second half of the movie revolves around the demon child Edward impregnates Bella with and the cost that will have on her life.  Watching the slow demise of Bella is masterful and the effect on the Cullen family and Jacob is played in a way that makes it relatable to any family that has ever watched someone they love dwindle and die before their eyes.

Whether you’re a fan of Twilight or not, this movie is worth seeing, but will probably bring more laughs of exasperation than joyful moments.  I’d recommend it only to the truly hardcore Twi-hards, but think that if you give it a chance, it might actually surprise and impress you just a little.

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