The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part I (2011)
November 21, 2011 1 Comment
Having vowed to marry in the previous instalment, Bella Swan and Edward Cullen tie their knot in front of friends, family and a whole host of amber-eyed extras. Untying their knots on honeymoon later in Rio de Janeiro, Bella quickly falls pregnant with Edward’s love-something, retreating to the Cullen’s grand design so that it can gestate in secret. Jacob, meanwhile, leaves his pack, teaming with two fellow were-pups in order to defend the not-quite-love-of-his-life from a near certain leg-humping. With the creature feeding off of Bella’s rapidly dwindling waistline, however, she might not even make it to term.
Oh, Twilight, how I tire of all this ill will, of leaving every movie with the same gripes and grudges. Why can’t we just get on? Why can’t you just deliver? After all, you boast all the makings of a classic: vampires, werewolves, Anna Kendrick, what isn’t there to love? But never mind how at peace I believe myself to be with regards to your own disregard of myth, legend and lore, you continue to twist the invisible stake in my patience. I won’t mention the fact that you showcase a vampire’s reflection, bless his union in broad daylight without so much as a holy combustion, or even that your overt Mormon coda is more overwhelming and insidious than ever. I won’t, not again.
You just make it so difficult. Four movies in and we’re still walking the same ground, the same designer staircase we have paced a million times before. Despite a brief foray to Rio (at least our third this year), we are back in over-familiar territory. How many times are we supposed to watch Kristen Stewart frown, Robert Patterson hesitate and Taylor Lautner strip before the plot finally sets in, an incident is incited? After another stare-off between dogs and hair-models, another discussion about immortality, and another two hours of celibacy* (this time post-marriage), are we not to be forgiven for asking for more? Should it not be expected?
Like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I, Breaking Dawn also opens with a wedding; but, unlike it’s magical counterpart, Breaking Dawn leaves its most interesting characters to clean up the leftovers rather than take centre stage. Prior to her complicated pregnancy, Bella’s biggest concern was falling in heels, while Edward’s festering guilt at his montage of murders is brushed aside with all the incident of an out-of-place hair. What I really wanted to see was more Kendrick (her “who gets married at 18?” voice of reason, her buoyancy, was a grounding the later plot developments sorely needed) and Billy Burke (come on Daddio, do something!), not a poorly judged mind-meld between CGI mutts.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn is not without merit, however: at the very least it doesn’t feature another round of vampire baseball. More importantly, it is also welcomingly mental. While the first movie brought us vampires who could swim up trees, the second movie had its bloodsuckers run away to Rome at the sight of a paper-cut, and the third film sent them camping for a bit of a snuggle, Breaking Dawn finally pays dividends to its vampiric roots. Pregnant with something inhuman, Bella is left to shrivel and bleed as Edward – you’re not going to believe this – actually drinks some of her blood. I don’t want to give away the ending – though if you haven’t guessed from the trailer then you clearly flunked biology – but it is surprisingly, gloriously horrific.
Far from the worst film of the year – Green Lantern, Immortals and Conan the Barbarian can fight for that honour – The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part I is saved from the naughty step by series-best performances, Anna Kendrick’s wedding speech and a long-overdue willingness to get down and dirty with its demons, even if it is at the expense of evil evil sex and sexuality. While director Bill Condon can frame a decent OH MY GOD OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT!? EW EW EW EW, however, he too falls foul of sub-standard source material and a thunder-stealing soundtrack.