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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Movie Review: The Twilight Saga - Breaking Dawn Part 1

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that Breaking Dawn Part 1 has hit theaters this week. As we approach the final stages of the Twilight saga, fans are excited to see how the events of the final book translated into film. How was the Edward and Bella honeymoon? Did Edward really chew through Bella's uterus? Is Renesmee a creepy teeth baby? How did they pull off the wolf telepathy? Get all these questions answered and all the opinion you can stand in my film review! WARNING: This is JAM PACKED with spoilers for the movie and the book, but chances are you already know what's happening anyway. Review after the jump!

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
Release Date: Nov. 18, 2011
Rating: PG-13
Directed by Bill Condon
Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Peter Facinelli, Billy Burke, Nikki Reid

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

This may put me in the bad graces of my fellow Twilight fans, but I was thoroughly underwhelmed by Breaking Dawn as a book. I felt like Stephenie Meyer was writing just to bring an end to the series and that her heart wasn't really in the story anymore. There was all this tension and build-up for an ending that really had no real resolution. The whole baby situation in the book felt forced to me, but maybe that's just me. The movie did a good job translating the story elements to film, but there isn't much you can do when the source material is questionable to begin with.

The big wedding was the first thing we saw in the film. It was a truly beautiful wedding, but there were some discrepancies with the book that some fans might be angry about. For one, Bella's dress was not at all vintage. It was beautiful, but totally contemporary and had an open lace panel that ran the entire length of her back, risking crack shots. Also, Bella's line to her father, "Just don't let me fall," had NOT context in the film, as the wedding was outside and there were no stairs in sight. Even the five inch heels she was supposed to be wearing were gone and replaced with fluffy little slippers. Jacob showed up as he was supposed to, but instead of having unkempt hair that was cut with a knife, he was perfectly gelled and just had a scruffy beard. The wedding had more confrontation than it originally did in the book, which kind of helped to ease the dull, and the toasts at the reception were hilarious. Emmett dropped awkward sex jokes, Jessica not-so-subtly hinted that Edward should have fallen for her instead, Charlie dropped some also not-so-subtle threats to Edward's life, and Renee tearfully and badly sang a rendition of a lullaby she sang to Bella as a child. I was in stitches.

I know the big thing that the fans were excited to see was Edward and Bella *finally* having sex. I felt that the love scenes in this movie were very well done and stayed true to the story in a way that will make the fans very happy. The lead up to this was extremely awkward, but I guess that was the plan. The morning after was not quite what I expected. There were feathers all over the room, and the bed frame was in splinters, but Edward wasn't even in the room when Bella woke up. He instead emerged from the hallway fully dressed and depressed about the 2 freaking bruises he left on her. Seriously. I did think the red and white chess set he used to keep Bella busy was a nice touch though.

Now for the pregnancy. Rather than have the already super skinny Kristen Stewart drop weight to achieve the sickly look of a lady pregnant with a half vampire baby, they elected to make her thinner via CG. This effect was pretty unrealistic in some parts, but I guess it's okay. At least we know what KStew would look like if she started doing meth. Taylor Lautner stepped up his acting game for this part of the movie. He was required to be emotional and angry, and it actually seemed real this time, rather than the forced performances we've seen from him in the other Twilight films. He even cried. I was hoping to see more of the banter between Rosalee and Jacob that we saw in the book, so I was a little disappointed there (no Fido mixing bowl), but some of the things left out were better off that way. For one, they didn't have Edward and Jacob offer to let Jacob have sex with Bella to give her a baby that wouldn't kill her. That was just awkward in the book. There was also a lot less of the internal wolf chats, which is a very good thing, because the ones they did have were freaking ridiculous. The best description I can offer is borrowed from a friend on Twitter: "Wolf telepathy makes you sound like a bad guy from Power Rangers." So true.

The delivery was very well done. It was done from Bella's point of view, which gives you all the sounds and tension of the delivery without having to see Edward chomping down on her womb. You do get a nice crunching sound, and then Edward's mouth covered in blood and goop, so they implied the vamp-section very well. Everyone gets covered in blood jello, much like I imagine an at-home vampire cesarean would go. The baby came out cute and kind of chunky, and thankfully, they didn't show her mouth full of creepy teeth. They did CG the poor infant's face for the imprinting scene to make it look like the little girl they cast to be Renesmee in the next film, which was a little scary looking, but it would have been so much worse if she smiled with a mouth full of pearly whites. The way they showed the imprinting happening in Jacob's mind was interesting, like he could see the future.

The Bella vampire transformation kind of went the way of CSI. They showed the venom running through her veins, crystallizing everything it touched. They showed spinal repair and all sorts of gross internal stuff, which let us know that it was working in spite of KStew's dead face. Also, apparently the vampire transformation process works much like magic plastic surgery. You get permanent eye makeup, highlights, fake eyelashes, your body goes from gross to hot in a matter of moments...basically, I need to sign up for this service. The last shot of the film is of Bella's red eyes popping open, which is pretty much exactly where I thought it would end. There's a scene after the credits where Aro announces his less-than-honorable intentions regarding the Cullens to the other Volturi, which is appropriately creepy and well done.

All in all, the film was okay. It will make fans pretty happy, but as far as movies in general go, it's slow-moving with a lackluster story. Not the movie's fault though, blame Stephenie Meyer. I hope the director took some creative license with the second half and makes some actual action happen in the big stand-off, because if not, that film will be rated even lower than this one. Proceed to throw stones now. :)

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