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Movie Review: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1

November 18, 2011
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 – An eOne Films’ Release
Release Date: November 18th, 2011
Rated PG for mature themes and sexual content
Running time: 117 minutes
Bill Condon (dir.)
Melissa Rosenberg (screenplay)
Based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer
Carter Burwell (music)
Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen
Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan
Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black
Ashley Greene as Alice Cullen
Jackson Rathbone as Jasper Hale
Peter Facinelli as Dr. Carlisle Cullen
Billy Burke as Charlie Swan
Gil Birmingham as Billy
Kellan Lutz as Emmett Cullen
Anna Kendrick as Jessica
©eOne Films.  All Rights Reserved.
Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1.
Our reviews below:
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 Review By John C.
** (out of 4)
What started as a chaste love triangle has quickly devolved into a pseudo-horror movie, and the results aren’t pretty.  Sometimes needlessly gory and other times laughably melodramatic, director Bill Condon’s The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 brings the uneven franchise to an unpleasant new low.  Hardcore fans of Stephenie Meyer’s vampire saga will still swoon over much of the film, but this would hardly be a good introduction for the uninitiated.
Much to the dismay of wolfboy Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), human Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) are finally getting married.  But the suitably romantic wedding is only the first part of the film, before Bella and Edward are off to Brazil for an island vacation.  Their honeymoon is an unintentionally funny montage set to music, as we watch them play chess and rip the bed right from the wall with their excessive lovemaking.  But their choice not to use protection backfires as Bella finds herself pregnant with a starving vampire baby.
With the wolves trying to save Bella from entering the world of the undead, there is a lot of melodrama here and I was surprised that the film didn’t succeed in delivering a better sense of suspense.  Perhaps this is because I haven’t read the book.  The final act where Bella goes into labour to actually deliver the baby is shot like a cheap horror movie, and also the moment where things start to get really unpleasant.  The sense of anything resembling cheesy fun is lost as Bella starts to resemble a starving drug addict, before a needlessly bloody sequence that will have many squirming in their seats.
The dialogue is often stilted, making it hard to take certain scenes very seriously.  But the largely uninspired performances are part of what makes the film fall flat.  Kristen Stewart seems to just be going through the motions as she tries to portray the effects of the pregnancy from hell, more relying on makeup than her acting skills.  Robert Pattinson’s one-note performance is made all the more disappointing due to the fact that he showed true promise in Water for Elephants earlier this year.  And then there’s Taylor Lautner.  Perhaps the actor has gotten a little tired of having to rip off his shirt in the rain, but his performance here just seems kind of bored.
These are all factors that make The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 my least favourite entry into the wildly popular but uneven series.  Director Catherine Hardwick’s first Twilight (2008) was an okay film that did its job as a brooding teenaged romance.  Chris Weitz took over the reigns in 2009 for New Moon (2009), delivering an intermittently enjoyable but ultimately overlong film that featured a few too many laughable montages.  But the highlight of the series remains David Slade’s gritty Eclipse (2010), an entertaining blockbuster that worked surprisingly well for a summer afternoon diversion.
The suitably romantic wedding is admittedly the best sequence here, lightened up by a brief appearance from the always appealing Anna Kendrick.  We needed more scenes with her.  Unfortunately, these moments that worked for me were few and far between.  But none of this negativity really matters because Twilight already has a solid fanbase that will see it no matter what.  Audiences unfamiliar with the series will likely feel cheated if they buy a ticket, but hardcore “Twihards” will still enjoy The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1.  This movie is for them, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 Review by Erin V.  
** (out of 4)
Breaking Dawn is part one in the adaptation of the final book in Stephenie Myers’ Twilight series, and it is also one of the worst in the set of films.  For all that happens in the film, you’d think that a story like this should not leave the viewer feeling passive throughout.  It didn’t connect with me, and my strongest emotion felt was aversion towards the gross moments.
This time around, Bella (Kristin Stewart) is finally marrying her undead boyfriend Edward (Robert Pattinson).  After the wedding, she and Edward go on their honeymoon to a small island off the coast of Brazil.  But then, the unexpected and seemingly impossible happens: Bella gets pregnant.  As a human carrying a vampire baby, it seems that this new addition will eat her from the inside out.  For those who’ve read the books, you’ll know how the delivery goes, and let’s just say that it is really disgusting to watch on screen.  Plus, the scene where Bella drinks blood is also just gross.
Let’s go on to the technical side for a second.  First off, the use/editing of the score and soundtrack.  Inexplicably, it seemed to show up at all the wrong moments, playing over quiet dialogue scenes to the point of distraction, and sometimes songs would start playing at what seemed to be awkward cues.  Oftentimes the sound mixing in general sometimes detracted from the scenes, such as one instance when the wolf pack speaks to each other telepathically, but what they say in voiceover is practically drowned out by their growling mixed over it.
Next, the special effects are pretty much the same as in the last two films – giant wolves, whooshing vampires (check out how fast Edward can pack a suitcase!), etc.  It’s entertaining to watch, but still cheesy.  Then there are the effects in the last act.  Another thing is the credits, and although the idea of switching between red, black, and white backgrounds/text might have seemed ok on paper, it kind of hurts your eyes and makes things hard to read actually on the screen.  Then, there’s the script.  I have never connected to or taken the dialogue in these films seriously – maybe it’s the delivery, maybe it’s the writing (Eclipse had sharper dialogue exchanges at least), or both.
We discovered something this year though – thanks to Water for Elephants, we know that Robert Pattinson actually can act.  Unfortunately you wouldn’t quite know it here with his continuously annoying small range of emotion.  Kristin Stewart has never impressed me as an actress, and I can’t say my opinion is changed yet, as it was with her co-star earlier this year.  The third in the main three, Taylor Lautner, just seems mainly bored in his acting this time around, although I still like him better than the other two.
It is probably clear that I am not a Twilight fan, but I do not hate the series.  I found the first film, Twilight, to have an interesting indie feel, and New Moon to develop the more current larger scale feel – although they were both merely ok in my book.  But it was last year that I actually was quite entertained by the third edition, Eclipse.  After that film, I was hoping against hope that Breaking Dawn would at least live up to the entertainment value of that one.  One can only hope that Part Two can redeem itself to the more entertaining qualities.  The problem here is that there is really no joy present – not even in the wedding sequence which should evoke something…  shouldn’t it?  It will be interesting to see how the whole series wraps up next year.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 Review by Nicole
*1/2 (out of 4)
The first Twilight was entertaining, as was New MoonEclipse was a lot of fun.  But Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is the worst movie yet in The Twilight Saga.  After Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) confesses to Bella (Kristen Stewart) about his past man-biting days in his early years as a vampire, she starts to have mixed feelings about her wedding.  But as usual, she goes against her better judgement and marries Edward anyway.
On their honeymoon, they consummate the marriage on more than one occasion.  Watching Edward mess up the bedroom is really quite funny.  But he doesn’t realize that, despite being undead, he is still inexplicably fertile.  Perhaps his cold temperature worked as a sperm bank.  Turns out that Bella has a little vampire baby in her oven, and the little baby is growing so fast that it is slowly killing Bella.  While an abortion is suggested, she wants to have the baby whom she names Renesmee.
Jacob (Taylor Lautner) and the wolves take a pro-choice stance, wanting Bella’s vampire offspring destroyed.  This pits the wolfpack and the Cullens into a pro-choice vs pro-undead battle.  Finally, Bella’s vampire spawn is delivered by the most unhygienic c-section ever.  It is so gross that the film should have kept its original R-rating.  The squeamish factor during the delivery trumps that of the nauseating scenes in which Bella drinks donor blood to feed her baby.  Remember to bring the barf bag.  After the baby is washed, she is admittedly cute, but the final pre-credits shot is so funny that it deserves a good laugh.  A final scene leads us into the next film.
While some Christian groups may consider this a pro-life movie, how religious is a film that encourages youth to give up their soul to be with the person they worship?  What profit does one show by gaining the whole world, but destroying oneself in the process?
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is a badly acted movie, with terrible special effects.  The wolf animation looks more fake than in the previous films.  This is not worth seeing.  Even “Twihards” may be disappointed.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 Review by Maureen
** (out of 4)
The big day has finally arrived.  Twilight fans can rest easy.  Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) have finally exchanged vows and then sealed the deal on a honeymoon island just off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.  The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 delivers a picture-perfect wedding.  The outdoor ceremony on the Cullen property is lovely and Bella’s dress is gorgeous.  Even the wedding guests behave perfectly.  I was sort of hoping at one point that the groom’s side might try to eat the bride’s side just to inject some excitement into the first half of Breaking Yawn (sorry, Breaking Dawn).  Even the actors looked bored in this one.  You would think that a long anticipated wedding would cause some sense of excitement.
The action does amp up somewhat once the lovebirds are on their honeymoon.  Perhaps Edward should have checked the stability of the bedroom furniture beforehand and also should have checked with his doctor if undead men can indeed father children.  Bella’s unexpected and unusual pregnancy leads to conflict between the newlyweds.  Bella wants the baby no matter what, while Edward realizes the danger to Bella and wants Dr. Cullen (Peter Facinelli) to remove it from her.
If that weren’t enough conflict, Jacob (Taylor Lautner) feels protective of Bella as the rest of the wolves set out to kill Bella and her unborn offspring.  The fighting action between the wolves is nowhere near as exciting as in the earlier films.  Jacob plays an important role in this movie, yet I never sensed any real emotion or conflict from Taylor Lautner’s performance.  I really liked him in Eclipse where Jacob’s character was allowed to come through in his interactions with Edward.
It’s in the final act of Breaking Dawn – Part 1 where the movie really deteriorates.  With Bella becoming increasingly anorexic-looking thanks to a baby that is eating her from the inside, she is forced to drink ‘blood-shakes’ out of a styrofoam cup with a straw.  The shots of blood on her lips and teeth are just plain gross.  Those scenes are nothing compared to the graphic and bloody c-section that the Cullens perform to try and save Bella.  What started out as a romance ends in pure horror.
While I may not be a “Twihard,” I did enjoy the first three movies, particularly Eclipse.  However, Breaking Dawn – Part 1 did not entertain or move me.  Serious Twilight fans will go see this movie no matter what.  I’m just hoping that the finale, Breaking Dawn – Part 2 will be a better movie.  Twilight fans who have invested so much in these characters and their story deserve better.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 Review by Tony
** (out of 4)
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 takes the last book of the series from the marriage of Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) through the difficult pregnancy that results. Fans may not be disappointed but the rest of us are likely to be bored over the almost two-hour running time. The wedding and honeymoon are attractive enough, at least until morning sickness sets in.
There is some mild suspense as the rapidly developing fetus poses a threat to Bella’s life from within. Moreover, considering the pregnancy a breach to their treaty, some of the native wolf clan are out to get her as well, held at bay by Jacob (Taylor Lautner) and a couple of others. At least there are enough unintentionally funny bits of melodrama to keep us awake, and the preview of Part 2 during the closing credits promises more derisive laughs to come. 
Consensus: Although fans of Stephenie Meyer’s vampire saga will greatly enjoy The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, those less versed in the franchise will likely find this weakest entry in the series to be a needlessly gory and sometimes unintentionally funny melodrama.  ** (Out of 4)
2 Comments leave one →
  1. Brittany Davis permalink
    November 19, 2011 7:00 pm

    Have you guys seen “Happy Feet Two” yet?


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