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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN PART 1

1 ˝ Stars (out of 4)

Director: Bill Condon

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Kellan Lutz, Gil Birmingham, Alex Rice, Booboo Stewart, Chaske Spencer, Sarah Clarke

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for disturbing images, violence, sexuality/partial nudity and some thematic elements)

Running Time: 1:57

Release Date: 11/18/11


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Review by Mark Dujsik | November 17, 2011

Something is seriously amiss when Jacob (Taylor Lautner), the dejected werewolf who cannot get over the mopey human girl who keeps running from him and toward the abusive vampire, is the voice of reason, or at least he seems that way until we get the strong impression that he falls in love with a newborn baby. "If you die," he asks the indecisive Bella (Kristen Stewart), "then what's the point—me loving you, you loving him?" That's pretty much the entire problem, separate from the issue of whether Bella lives or not, with the Twilight "saga," which after four movies still doesn't quite seem to have a point.

It's not the last time Jacob gets to the heart of the matter in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1. Earlier, he tells Bella, "I already know how this is going to end," and we kind of wish he would just inform us so that we may get on with our own lives. Of course, since this is yet another movie based on Stephanie Meyer's improbably popular book series, Jacob wavers from his decision to leave Bella behind and goes right back to her almost immediately after he's made up his mind to go. There's never really been a plot to any of these movies; there's only a group of characters who constantly change their minds for no other reason than to drag out the inevitable. When the inevitable finally arrives here, Jacob once again provides—though at a prior point in the movie—the only rational response to it: "Whatever."

It's a shame, too, since this series actually appeared to be finding its footing with its previous entry—a movie that not only contained actual conflict between its characters but also managed to have a sense of humor about itself (The fact that it came after the dreadful second installment is shocking). Those elements are absent this time around, as director Bill Condon and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg linger on the most asinine things. There is absolutely no reason that a bride's walk to the altar should last longer than the wedding ceremony itself, unless, obviously, the marriage isn't really what matters.

That's always been the case with these movies, hasn't it? Bella's hesitation to bond with the vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) has little to do with the fear of commitment. She's eager for him to turn her into a vampire so that they may live out the rest of their theoretically immortal lives together in one, long stare into each other's eyes. The setback is sex. It's not even sex with a supernatural being with unnatural speed and strength; it's just sex. Not a single character in this movie (or, to the best of my memory, any of the movies) can even bring him or herself to say the word. "This" and "that" are the best they can do, as, we suppose, "it" might be a bit too suggestive.

The resistance to even speak of sex except in pronoun form points to the franchise's immaturity, and the first half of this entry epitomizes it. The act is on the back of everyone's mind (One of Bella's friends hypothesizes that Bella is pregnant, since "Who gets married when they're 18?"), and more importantly, it's the potential damage about which most of them care.

There's Jacob's look of horror when he learns she plans on having a honeymoon like everyone else. There's Bella's extended preparation before the two get to bed (The screenplay has a long trek from Washington state to Rio de Janeiro to a private island off the coast—all of which apparently happens in one night—before they even get to a place with a bed). Above all, there's the fact that Condon cuts away from the couple before "that" happens but after Edward breaks a headboard made of solid wood. The next morning, despite the apparent violence of the bedroom, his wife only has a few bruises, which means he's pretty much finished in the "this" department for a while, though the multitude of questions regarding the workings of a vampire's sexuality and reproduction still remain.

The rest of the movie concerns Bella's unexpected pregnancy (The characters are more open about discussing the termination the pregnancy than how it actually happened) and the leader of the local werewolf pack Sam's (Chaske Spencer) determination to battle with Edward's family over the demon spawn they figure will result. Continuing with the movie's sex panic, there are Bella's horrifying gestation period, during which she withers skin and bones and must drink human blood to nourish the fetus, and a grotesque birth in which it appears Edward performs a Caesarean section with his teeth.

Perhaps the strangest part of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is that it seems to complete the entire story. Save for the "Part 1" of its title and a mid-credits scene that brings back the silly and useless Volturi, the movie resolves everything of any obvious importance by the end, so, again, what's the point of this story?

Copyright © 2011 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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