THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN – PART I
1/2 (out of 5)
November 18, 2011
Kristen Stewart as BELLA SWAN
Robert Pattinson as EDWARD CULLEN
Taylor Lautner as JACOB BLACK
Billy Burke as CHARLIE SWAN
Peter Facinelli as CARLISLE CULLEN
Directed by: Bill Condon
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
First of all… “Twilight” is not a saga. Not in the slightest. Hell, it’s barely a story. It’s a painfully simple, angst-ridden slice of emotional pornography for tweens and women who feel life and love has passed them by. I don’t disparage someone for liking it, but I do disparage them for calling it a saga.
A saga has depth. A saga has scope. A saga features rather small characters becoming heroes by standing up against adversity in a world much, much bigger than them. “Star Wars” is a saga. “The Lord of the Rings” is a saga. Even one-shot romance films like “Doctor Zhivago” is a saga. A saga suggests a grand vision of epic proportions.
“Twilight” is about a plain, boring, uninteresting high school girl who falls in love with a creepy 100+ year old man who just happens to have great hair. And this fact is no more apparent than in the new film “Breaking Dawn: Part I.”
This is perhaps the worst of the “Twilight” films, even worse than the rickety, wacky first installment in the series. It’s definitely worse than the last two because, amid all the bellyaching and stuttering in the Edward/Bella/Jacob storyline, “New Moon” and “Eclipse” at least had something more happening. Not enough to make them bona fide sagas, but at least there was a taste of a world outside of the range of Bella’s body odor.
“New Moon” introduced the Volturi, which demonstrated that not all vampires are emotionally stunted and mopey as the Cullens. “Eclipse” featured at least one action-filled smackdown between vampires and the wolf pack. But not “Breaking Dawn: Part I.” This is wall-to-wall Bella and Edward, with about 25 minutes of real story stretched into damn near two hours.
When Warner Bros. split the final “Harry Potter” book into two movies, it was an obvious cash grab, but there was a part of it that made sense. The book had a clear intermission in the middle, and while the case can be made that “Deathly Hallows: Part I” was drawn out more than it needed to be, it would have been a real challenge to cram the entire story into a film that wasn’t three and a half hours long.
Not so with “Breaking Dawn.” I haven’t read the book, but if the screenplay of the first part shows us anything, it’s that nothing really happens in the beginning. Sure, there are the key moments… Bella and Edward getting married, Bella and Edward spending their honeymoon *not* having sex and randomly moving chess pieces around the board (because if you watch closely, you’ll notice that the filmmakers didn’t even go through the due diligence to learn the rules of chess before shooting those scenes), Bella getting pregnant and the couple traveling home to the Cullen’s home to wait for the birth.
But this story didn’t need 108 minutes to be told. To make up for lack of story, there’s numerous shots of woeful glances, many moments where the cast is literally surrounding Bella with all focus on her (a painful visualization of what these movies are really about) and more music montages than an entire season of “Grey’s Anatomy.”
The misogynistic, decidedly un-feminist message is still there. Edward is so awesome because even though he bruises her up during sex, he truly loves her. This entire sequence demonstrates the immaturity of character because Bella just wants to have sex to become a woman while envisioning Edward as not wanting to hurt her in the animalistic, violent act. When it comes to Jacob, Bella continues to string him along, even at her own wedding. She wants to be fought over, and those doing so just yell at each other and run around trying to intimidate the other. This is white trash trailer justice at its worse.
Much has been made about two scenes, the sex scene on the honeymoon and the final birthing scene which includes cesarean section via vampire. On the surface, these are the only scenes that might interest a non-“Twilight” fan, but don’t be fooled. They’re as neutered as they come, shot with the eroticism of a daytime soap opera. And any violence is so toned down that it’s downright boring… but I suppose it’d be considered edgy to the thirteen-year-old girl who thinks she’s a badass because she watched the “Paranormal Activity” movies at a slumber party.
But beyond the nonsensical, bloated storytelling, this movie isn’t even true to its own roots. I get the sense that director Bill Condon tried to bring a little levity and self-deprecating humor to the film in the first 15 minutes. After all, he opens with Jacob running out of the house, ripping off his shirt and turning into a wolf (an obvious joke that apparently I was the only one who found hilarious in my screening). Then at the wedding, there are some jabs about Edward’s hair, how clueless Bella’s father is and how narcissistic the wedding extravagance is for Bella. But it looks like the studio stepped in after that moment and demand he take things seriously.
But the logic of the film isn’t even consistent. I’m not just talking about the impossibility of a vampire to sustain an erection (because that relies specifically on blood flow, and they make a point to say that their hearts don’t even beat). I’m talking about the dreaded sparkly nature of the vampires.
What’s worse than a vampire that sparkles? A vampire who is supposed to sparkle but doesn’t. Bella and Edward honeymoon in Rio de Janeiro, one of the sunniest places on the planet. But nary a sparkle. I can only guess that the filmmakers were tired of being reduced to “the sparkly teen vampire movie” and quietly removed that element with no explanation whatsoever. But that doesn’t fix that ridiculous and moronic concept.
But don’t worry. There’s plenty of stupidity left in “Breaking Dawn: Part I,” from talking wolves and geisha-like vampire make-up to the most uncomfortable newborn baby fetish moment this side of “A Serbian Film.”
The fans will wet their pants in this movie for certain, but it won’t win over anyone new. The only saving grace is knowing that we only have one more of these godawful films we need to sit through before this non-saga is finally over.