“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1” feels just as heavy as it’s lengthy title and doesn’t deliver much.
The fourth installment in the “Twilight” series revolves around an idea that seems too far fetched even for a series that relies on larger than life werewolves and vampires that don’t burn but sparkle in the sunlight.
The film centers around the birth of a half-vampire, half-human baby.
The sequel opens right where it’s predecessor, “Eclipse,” left off as Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and her vampire fiancee Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) prepare for their much anticipated wedding.
On the other hand, her friend and other suitor werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), has seemingly disappeared, hurt by Bella’s decision to marry Edward and become immortal.
For once, everyone is allowed to be happy for at least a little while here. The love triangle that the saga heavily relied on in “New Moon” and “Eclipse” is gone and it’s refreshing to see the series return to it’s vampire/human love story roots from the first “Twilight.” The wedding scene, a beautifully shot slow build-up to the alter, is especially wonderful.
The teen angst that was heavily present in the previous films seems to vanish too as Bella and Edward both seem content to finally marry, leave their families behind, and embark on their honeymoon and new lives together.
For a brief moment, Bella and Edward are able to spend time like a normal couple but this is also where “Breaking Dawn” takes a sharp turn and goes from being a young adult series to what can be perceived as an argument for anti-abortion and pro-life.
Bella and Edward finally consummate their relationship, something three books and movies worth of material have been leading up to, but their carefree time together is short lived as Bella quickly finds out she’s pregnant.
Edward becomes fearful because vampire myths say nothing about the possibility of such a child. His wife on the other hand stays determined, adamant that she must keep the baby even if delivering it runs the risk of killing her before Edward can change her into a vampire and save her.
The dialogue even reflects this notion as the members of Edward’s family debate whether to refer to Bella’s future child as “the fetus” or “the baby.”
Less than an hour into the movie and Stewart’s blushing bride is reduced to a pale, ghastly version of herself. The CGI effects are used well here. As Bella’s pregnancy goes on she grows weaker before the audience’s eyes; her appearance more frail, thin and sickly as the movie goes on. It’s clear that carrying the baby is killing her slowly from the inside out.
Meanwhile, the werewolves are reduced to background noise as Jacob leaves his pack and sides with the Cullens, vowing to help them protect Bella from his own family.
This alliance is probably disappointing to the small male fan base that “Eclipse” was able to win over last year with it’s action scenes. This time the film packs all but one fight sequence and relies heavily on characters doing a whole lot of nothing as they wait for Bella to go into labor.
When the film finally picks up, it nose dives into science fiction territory with a gory, violent birth scene that could even make a few horror movie fans proud and proves impressive even with it’s PG-13 rating restriction. It’s easily the most interesting scene.
“Breaking Dawn” could be the best film out of the entire “Twilight’ franchise but that isn’t saying much. It feels like an entirely different film from the rest of the series and it’s simply hard to believe that this is the direction the story takes. Perhaps this is also why the two male leads, Lautner and Pattinson, seem barely believable in their portrayals even though they’ve endured a series worth of time to get to know their characters. Stewart is the only one who seems to have shown some growth in her acting.
Unlike a movie like “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” which was also split into two films, “Breaking Dawn” suffers from a lot of filler and not enough substance to carry it’s running time of two hours.
Where “Potter” was successful because it had many things happening at the same time, “Breaking Dawn” simply has nothing going on.
At it’s best, the film’s only triumph is that it’s able to take a ridiculous novel and turn it into a slightly bearable movie going experience.
And thanks to director Bill Condon’s (“Dreamgirls,” “Chicago”) help, it all ends with a cliffhanger that is sure to leave the audience wondering what the next and final installment will bring when it’s released next year.