The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (Summit Entertainment, PG-13)

breaking-dawn 75Breaking Dawn was not made to win Academy Awards or impact the history of cinema. It was made so the studio could earn money.



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Even diehard Twilight fans will have a hard time arguing that The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is not a horrible movie. Some of the fault lies with author Stephenie Meyers’ ludicrous storyline from the fourth Twilight book, but only part of the blame can be attributed to her shortcomings as a writer. The person most responsible for this disaster is director Bill Condon (the fourth director to tackle the Twilight series) who, it appears, did not watch a single frame of playback or spend any time in the editing room. If he had, he would have seen the complete disaster that resulted from his lack of focus and dedication.

The movie opens with human Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) preparing to wed vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). The upcoming nuptials are terrible news for werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), who is in love with Bella and hates Edward. (Breaking Dawn does not go into the characters’ backstories from the previous installments, so neither will this review.) Bella is nervous about the wedding day because she knows that Edward will subsequently turn her into a vampire, something that Jacob and his tribe (who are also werewolves) do not approve of.

The wedding takes place and Bella and Edward head off on their honeymoon to celebrate. After consummating their marriage, Bella realizes that she is pregnant, which is a shock to both her and Edward. The two immediately leave their island paradise to return to the Cullens’ home where Carlisle (Peter Facinelli), a doctor, can take care of her. Bella’s body is not able to handle the pregnancy and so her health begins failing quickly. What’s worse is Jacob discovers Bella is pregnant and informs the rest of the pack. They decide they must destroy the child because it will be an unstoppable killing machine. Jacob then has to decide to whom he should be loyal.

The vampire craze, which appears to be waning, has made audiences desensitized to the impossibility of vampires. Audiences are generally willing to accept vampires (and werewolves), but the story must still make sense within the world of the movie. In Breaking Dawn, the idea that Bella could be impregnated by Edward is too absurd to suspend disbelief. This fact alone makes the movie practically unwatchable.

Director Condon and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg compound the problems by failing to improve every other component of the film beside the preposterous pregnancy. In the book, the werewolves are able to communicate telepathically, which, in a novel, is probably a useful tool and works as a part of the story. In a visual medium, such as film, the images of wolves “talking” to each other immediately conjures up images of the dogs from Look Who’s Talking Now! The abysmal CGI wolves don’t help this connection.

The tone of the movie is also unsettling for a number of reasons. Condon presents the first act as a romantic comedy (slapstick humor included), which is antithetical to the very dark and serious tone of the previous three films. There is then a sudden shift that is distracting for the audience, drawing attention to the inappropriateness of the first part of the film and the melodrama of the second. Condon seems lost and is unable to weave a coherent story. This is surprising, coming from the capable director of Gods and Monsters and Kinsey.

On nearly every account, the acting is terrible. Pattinson spends the entire film brooding and trying to be intense. Stewart is so comfortable with her character that she doesn’t try at all. As shown in the previous films, Lautner is without talent as an actor and incapable of properly delivering a single line of dialogue. The wonderfully talented Anna Kendrick (tragically shackled to the franchise) has one scene-stealing moment and then is never seen again.

Breaking Dawn was not made to win Academy Awards or impact the history of cinema. It was made so the studio could earn money. That is not uncommon in Hollywood, but even an artless production such as this should at least attempt to be more than simply a commercial product. | Matthew Newlin

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