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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1

2011-11-16 02:21
 
The penultimate instalment in the ridicule-ready vampire romance is a vast improvement on the three previous attempts, though the bar wasn't very high to begin with.
What it's about:

The romance between human teenager Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) reaches its climax as the two are married and head off to a lavish island location for their honeymoon. But Bella's sudden and unexpected pregnancy creates an unknown danger not only to the expectant mother but threatens to tip over the already uneasy truce between the Cullens, the Volturi and the werewolves in Forks.

What we thought:

Teenagers and unprotected sex - will they ever learn? It's quite something that the thrust of Breaking Dawn Part 1, the penultimate film in the Twilight Saga, is so concerned with a little mistake Bella and Edward make on their honeymoon. Edward insists that he had no idea vampires could even biologically sire new life. Everyone else outside of the pent-up supernatural franchise is wondering exactly the same thing, down to a physiological fault.

But that's just something that will have to be left to the imagination because in Stephenie Meyer's vampire mythology, where vamps go vegetarian and sparkle in the sunlight and live curiously incestuous lives, Edward Cullen - the otherworldly hero of the saga - is more man than even he realises.

The Twilight Saga
has, thus far, not been known for its cinematic excellence, despite the feverish fandom and box office rewards, so it's not really accurate to say that Breaking Dawn Part 1 has much to live up to. As far as director Bill Condon is concerned, there is no other direction for the franchise's fortunes to go but up and he sets about injecting some much-needed excitement and, perhaps most important of all, humour into the series.

Breaking Dawn can't help but have as many flaws as its predecessors though it must be said that Part 1 is a vast improvement on what came before. Everyone involved - from much-maligned screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg to the saga's tabloid fodder leads Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson - have spent the off-season working at their game and have given more flesh and colour to these ridicule-ready characters.

Stewart, in particular, approaches Bella with a new confidence that feels like a natural progression of her character's first foray into womanhood. Gone is that insipid girl who gasped for breath and fell to her knees at the very thought of her beloved Edward. She's finally found some peace with the Volturi, who are not actively seeking her death (just yet) and her exhausting love triangle with Edward and best friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner) is finally a thing of the past.

The series has never strayed from its almost sickeningly sweet romantic notions, so the promise of a wedding means that it must be staged on the grandest of scales. Fans, of which there may be a few, will be clutching at their breasts and wiping away tears as Bella walks down the aisle in her simple but stunning wedding gown and exchanges those immortal vows with the man-beast who stole her heart. And then follows the almost perfect island honeymoon off the coast of Brazil... It's nearly impossible NOT to get swept away by the loveliness of it all.

Though that comes to a crashing halt with Bella's shocking pregnancy and the even more alarming realisation that the creature she is carrying is growing at an exponential rate. This leads into the much darker second half of the film - and also gives screentime to Jacob's side of the story as he breaks away from his wolfpack in order to protect Bella. The two halves of the film could not be more distinct and almost feel like different films entirely. While splitting the final novel in the series makes great business sense, it also serves to drag out what should be the most cutthroat and action-packed instalment.

Much is made of Bella's first night with Edward (don't worry, it's very purposefully kept in the PG range. Passionate wall-shattering is as kinky as it gets) though they hit a snag very early on and before you know it you know far too much about the sexual impulses of a teenage bride. Bella's freak pregnancy is haphazardly sped up and then slowed down again to allow the rest of the plot to catch up. But the sight of Bella literally wasting away for the sake of her bloodthirsty baby is one that will not easily be forgotten. Her weak and emaciated appearance is the most disturbing image from the saga thus far, with the controversial birth scene finally earning The Twilight Saga its horror chops.

So while Breaking Dawn has all the looks and charm of the most popular boy in school, you just know there isn't much else going on underneath. Jacob's love-hate relationship with both Bella and his own wolfpack unfortunately needs to be explored, in perhaps too much detail, and since so much of the book is given over to his perspective. While the werewolves themselves are there to add tension to the fate of Bella and her hybrid baby girl Renesmee, they feel oddly superfluous to the story. Perhaps because it's so hard to take them seriously after watching their snarling CGI wolf forms communicate via voice-over telepathy. The wolves have been very poorly served this time around.

Maybe it helps accepting that The Twilight Saga is overcooked fantasy to really appreciate the small but special moments in Breaking Dawn Part 1, like the revelation that Bella's mother Renée is a bit of a ditzy lush, and that her ex-best friend Jessica (played by the adorable Anna Kendrick) has perhaps the sanest, sweetest insight into the bridal couple's whirlwind romance. Though who could blame her for being bitter about Bella's place in Edward's heart?

And spare a thought for Twilight's unsung hero, Bella's long-suffering father Charlie (played by Billy Burke) who remains completely clueless about the supernatural craziness he has married his daughter into and the fact that he is now a grandfather.

Breaking Dawn Part 1
will almost certainly satisfy the legions of Twihards - it is a sumptuous feast for the senses (not that the 3D effects hold much sway in this regard) and sets up the final, final chapter with a knowing wink that makes all the absurdity it churns out rather charming.

Oh, and do stay behind for the end credits. There's a little treat tucked away in there that will surely make the wait for the November 2012 release of Breaking Dawn Part 2 almost unbearable.

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Add Your Review

(Comments may be edited or deleted at the Channel24 editors’ discretion)
Shan 11/16/2011 1:40 PM
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Loved it - the acting has imrpoved and the film stayed true to the Book!
Gert 11/17/2011 6:36 AM
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Watched it yesterday. Should have gone straight to the video shop.
Chris_T 11/17/2011 7:48 AM
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Watched it last night, and it was ok in my opinion, some parts much better than others. And some of the acting was questionable, to say the least. I'm a fan of the books but the films not so much. I'd suggests this movie only to serious Twilight fans!
tatum 11/17/2011 8:38 AM
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this one was really bad,the acting was terrible. the books where better.
kez 11/17/2011 9:42 AM
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they are married so if they dont use protection they dont have to
kez 11/17/2011 9:42 AM
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they are married so if they dont use protection they dont have to
SDR 11/17/2011 11:52 AM
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TWI Fan so loved it. No one expects it to be Oscar winnning.
Maggie Duvenhage 11/17/2011 3:30 PM
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I read the book allready. Seein the movie tomorrow 18/11/2011. Can't wait. I'm so excited... Starting to read the whole Twilight Saga from the beginning. I just love these movies.
Robert Mkhatshwa 11/17/2011 4:51 PM
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I have watched the movie yesterday, it is great!
Tracy 11/17/2011 8:01 PM
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As a TwiHard, I loved the movie. The books were better and I didn't expect it to be the Oscar winner of the year. But then if The Hurt Locker beats Avatar then who wants to win an Oscar?
Nancy 11/17/2011 9:19 PM
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The guys have had Princess Leia & Bond Girls...Just let us have Edward & Jacob!!! I attended the noon show yesterday and was shocked at how many groups of guys were there attending the movie. While chatting to a guy in the line, he said he would never let his girl know he was into Twilight and would definitely not watch it with her! As for the author of the above review..."horror chops" and "superfluous"...really!!! It may never win an Oscar, and for all the horrible and nasty stuff that happens everyday in the world, some people just need an escape for a few hours. Please, at least allow them that!
deborah 11/18/2011 11:51 AM
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the movie was great, i cant wait for the second part.
Chris 11/18/2011 2:33 PM
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Pretty horrible, us was to be expected. Saw it last night (after much protest). Serious scenes end up being hilarious and it just never ends. I won't bother to see Part 2, that's for sure.
Jannes 11/18/2011 2:36 PM
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I was hoping that at some point these films would get better but the opposite seems to be true. A friend who came along agreed with me that while this movie might entertain die hard fans, the rest of the world will just laugh at how silly and overly sentimental it is. Must agree with Gert on this one.
Nikki 11/18/2011 2:39 PM
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Like all the others it is bad. I am a big fan of the books but I struggle to like the movies. Stick to the books and dont waste your money!!!!!
Jake 11/18/2011 4:19 PM
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Loved it. Stepping into the movie you really have to know where all the small moments come from that most would miss at first glance. With a few bits added to translate better onto the silver screen I must say all in all, it was spectacular! A feast for the eyes. From the sweet, to watching Bella waste away to brittle bones only to return as a radiant creature of the night.
Johan DD 11/18/2011 6:02 PM
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Agree with reviewer and with other commentators who gave it one star only.
Gen du Plessis 11/18/2011 6:49 PM
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Just saw it! I don't kknow what people are going on about, its reallly hard to like this if you are not a very big fan of the books!! Bad, bad movie though!!
Sarah B 11/18/2011 8:03 PM
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The acting in this movie has improved since the previous movies, but since it was extremely poor before, the improvement makes little difference. Also the movie was very long and I feel that they could have made only one movie because there's not all that much happening. Part 2 is obviously just a way to make as much money out of the movie as possible. Save your money and wait until you can rent the DVD. Paying full price to see it now is soooo not worth it.
Tinspa 11/19/2011 2:41 PM
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That heart breaking for Jacob
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