‘Breaking Dawn — Part 1’ hilarious in the wrong way
Somehow stripping the few redeemable qualities from Stephenie Meyer’s “Breaking Dawn,” the final book in her wildly bestselling “Twilight” series, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1″ hobbles together a tedious, seemingly never-ending prelude to what we can only hope will be a more entertaining “Part 2,” which releases next November.
The monstrosity that is “Part 1” tells the first half of “Twilight’s” finale: Mortal Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) marry, jet off to a South American honeymoon and promptly decide to screw everything up by getting Bella pregnant with some type of vampire-esque offspring. A typical day in carnal paradise, no doubt. Oh, and there’s the soul-wrenching (if inevitable) decision by Bella to become undead in the near future.
But what should be some of the two-parter’s most serious and tense moments instead leave you laughing at the sheer ludicrosity of it all. Granted, it’s hard not to laugh when resident hunk Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner, who also happened to star in “Abduction”) loses the shirt within 30 seconds of the movie’s opening. Or when Bella pleads for sex from her vampire husband. Or when Lautner tries to cry. Or when Pattinson tries to smolder. You get the point.
Still, you can’t blame director Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls”) for all the soapy and unintentionally funny drama. In fact, most of that can be attributed to screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg (screenplay writer for the previous three movies), who replaced the tension and angst of the book with a bloodless banality. The Edward-Bella-Jacob love triangle leaves you both frustrated and apathetic. After all, how many times can Bella lead Jacob on only to reject him for her vampire beau before it gets old? How many times can Bella gaze at Edward with a creepily obsessive need in her eyes before you wonder if her feelings are healthy? (And after the mental breakdown that occurred in “New Moon,” it’s safe to say it’s not.)
And now that we’ve reached the fourth movie in the series, it comes as no surprise that both Pattinson and Lautner still have no personality. Pattinson actually seems dead, or at the very least bored out of his mind. And Lautner proved he possesses only one expression: an incomprehensible squinting. (At least, it looks like squinting. He could be deep in thought; it’s hard to tell.)
Stewart did well, however, with her I’m-carrying-a-demon-spawn pregnant mother. It’s grotesque in a fascinating way. The C-section later performed by Edward, though — with his teeth, no less — is simply grotesque.
Even with all that going on, we still have the melodramatic aspects with which to contend. At its core, “Twilight” is a teenage love triangle with dashes of angst, sparkles and fisticuffs. But “Breaking Dawn,” and in turn “Part 1,” delve just a bit deeper in the crazy pool. Now we contend with a fundamental lack of understanding of birth control, an unexplainable desire to give birth to a child literally consuming the mother from the inside out (and the all-consuming toll the pregnancy takes on the mother), a weird love between a teen wolf and a half-vampire baby and an unnervingly physical relationship among all parties. And to top that all off, there’s the lack of emotion so prevalent in the books (and, to a lesser degree, in the previous movies). There’s angst and unnatural facial expressions, for sure, but there’s no subtext to go with them. Which is unsurprising for a movie about pretty people doing a whole lot of nothing.
It wouldn’t be far, though, to rant about the failure of “Part 1” without praising the filmography and editing. It really is a beautiful movie, contrasting between stark whites and shocking reds and seamlessly transitioning between absurd scenes.
Normally, splitting a book of “Breaking Dawn’s” length and notoriety would be the more prudent choice, at least from the fan’s perspective. Fans want all of the nuance, all of the lustful stares and backstory. But there truly no reason “Part 1” warranted 117 minutes of screen time. In fact, a large chunk of it could have been left on the cutting room floor, and both parts could have been combined into one longer movie. (Yes, given the financial incentives for Summit Entertainment to be able to sell and market two “Twilight” movies instead of one, it’s silly to think that could have happened.)
In the end, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1” will appease its rabid fanbase. And no review, no matter how critical, is going to change that.
One bloodless star out of five.