12A / 2011 / Fantasy Drama / Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
Screenplay: Melissa Rosenburg, Stephenie Meyer (novel) / Director: Bill Condon
Plot: Edward and Bella finally tie the knot, and then get down to doing what most newly married couples like to do… Trouble is, becoming pregnant with a human-vampire hybrid baby is believed to pose a serious threat: to Bella’s survival, the wolf-vampire treaty, and to the safety of the rest of humanity. The wolf pack are intent on killing the baby before it is born, and only Jacob’s allegiance to Bella stands in their way.
Let’s get straight to business and start on a positive note, shall we? Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is not a complete disaster. The acting in this instalment is the best that the series has seen so far – particularly from the three main leads – which says much less about their acting ability and much more about the content.
Up to this point, the Twilight films have been happy to be packed full of prolonged glances, heavy breathing, and unashamedly advocating the portrayal of teenage angst (along with how much of a soul-destroyer it can be – sob!); and to be fair to the previous three films, it has worked very well. Of course, the problem now is, the wait and the pain are all over. Aching and passion-filled stares are no longer required, because the pay-off is happening: we’re watching it on screen. Heck, even Jacob seems to have resided himself to the fact that he will forever be living in the ‘we’re just really good friends/you’re like a brother to me’ camp!
So what does that leave us with? Thankfully for R-Patz and co., it does afford them the opportunity to stretch the acting muscles a little. All the dialogue is delivered with a real sense of conviction, and an assuredness that the actors know who these characters are and what drives them as individuals.
However, there is still no getting past the daftness of the central conceit, or indeed how the film thinks it can get away with making all of the supporting human characters completely thick in the head! Bella’s dad, Charlie, is a police officer, for crying out loud! Should he not find it a little bit suspicious when he’s in Edward’s family home, and he’s looking at a picture frame containing several dozen graduation hats (there are other spoilerific examples that can’t go here)? Unfortunately all this means, is that the character’s integrity is tremendously undermined: rather than laughing with Charlie at his use of dry humour to cope with making a speech, you find yourself laughing at him instead, which is a great shame, as his presence was a welcome light relief in the previous films. Still, no matter how detached Charlie may seem, he’s not a patch on the alarmingly gormless array of Bella’s high school buddies, whose input at the wedding is simply embarrassing to watch (Anna Kendrick should know better by now!).
Another problem, is the way in which the film has been shot in order to secure the kid-friendly rating. Ok, so given the enormous fan-base of the series, the desire to make it as accessible as possible is entirely understandable. However, it also hamstrings the film tremendously. The way in which the camera deliberately stops just shy of showing anything significant, either in the bathroom or the bedroom, is laughable in its own right and saps any real emotional punch from the more intimate scenes between the newlyweds.
Add to this the fact that the film seems to break all of its own previously established rules (no more outdoor skin sparkling for one thing), and what you end up with is a ridiculous flight of fancy that will keep the naysayers nay-saying, and, equally, the twi-hards (that’s die-hard Twilight fans, for those not in the know) begging for more.
As was mentioned previously, the lead performances are extremely compelling this time around and should be commended, but they are not enough to stop a film from being so farcical, that it is barely able to stop laughing at itself.
Kyle Buxton is an independent freelance film reviewer and blogger
Be sure to check out hid blog at: Reel Lighthouse – containing movie reviews, as well as other occasional film-related insights.