Unreal Movie Review: Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1

Chances are if you’re seeing the fourth Twilight movie, you’re either a very devoted fan or a very devoted boyfriend, or some combination of the two. These films are made for a very specific subset of the population, so when you view one outside of that group, it’s a bit hard to judge it as it was meant to be seen.

But judge it I shall, and the harsh smackdowns I’ve given most of the other films over the years have been some of my most satisfying to write, and so I look forward to this time every year.

Something’s happening though. It’s like the venom of these movies has infected my bloodstream over the years, somehow…changing me. I despised Twilight, I disliked New Moon and I tolerated Eclipse but now I…like Breaking Dawn?

“I’m pregnant. I mean, checkmate.”

Yes, I know. I can’t believe I just wrote that. And under my own name to be etched on the internet forever no less. When aliens invade and harvest all of our data and knowledge, there will then be an intergalactic record that I actually admitted to liking a Twilight movie.

So what the hell is going on here? Well, simply put the quality of these movies, at least from a cinematic perspective is going up with each new installment. There’s been a different director for each film, and we’ve gone through Thirteen’s Catherine Hardwicke, About a Boy’s Chris Weitz, 30 Days of Night’s David Slade and now for Breaking Dawn, Dreamgirl’s Bill Condon.

Condon may focus mainly on films that revolve around singing and dancing, as he’s also the man behind Chicago, but somehow he’s really done a great job with this film, which is particularly impressive given the rather wonky source material. The film is beautifully shot, and Condon takes us from the highest highs of Bella and Edward’s fairytale wedding and honeymoon, to the lowest lows as she wastes away, being consumed by an evil demon baby.

Yes, it sounds silly, and it is, but by the fourth go-round, you know what you’re expecting from these movies. I appreciated this film more than the others because it had a more clear-cut path than all of them, and did it’s best to minimize the silliness and extraneous subplots that normally plague these films.

“Oh my God, if I could do it over again I would have NEVER HAD TEEN SEX.”

The movie, while being a Part 1 itself with another chapter to come later, is divided in two. It opens with what would be an epilogue in most films. Bella and Edward are finally wed in a ceremony that goes off without a hitch in a gorgeously arranged forest where thankfully no one is sparkling, something that is mercifully avoided for the duration of the film. They’re then whisked off to a private island where they attempt to do the nasty for the first time like good Mormon boys and girls who will always wait until marriage to try such things.

Their bed-breaking, bone-brusing lovemaking session makes Edward wary of every attempting the deed again while Bella’s still human, but things go from bad to worse when she figures out she’s pregnant just a few days later.

But it’s not your normal teen pregnancy. A vampire/human combo isn’t even supposed to exist, and that baby starts sucking the life out of Bella. A huge round of applause should be directed toward the makeup and special effects team here, who do a fantastic and harrowing job of transforming Bella from the girl next door to a skeletal zombie by the end of the film.

The film works because it keeps it simple. The original Twilight was about a dance of courtship between two actors who had just about the worst script to work with in history. New Moon encouraged girls to jump off of cliffs when their boyfriend breaks up with them. Eclipse was a lot of battles featuring CGI werewolves that remain the dumbest thing about these movies, and a telekinetic wolf conversation takes the award for the worst scene of Breaking Dawn.

“Bitch, call me Wolf Boy one more time.”

But now everything is much easier to process. The cast has been stripped down to its bare essential characters who have followed us through most of the films. There’s no Italian vampire mafia around, no redheaded rogue stalker vamp who needs to be beheaded. Rather, the villain for most of the film is the baby itself, and Bella’s losing battle with it brings out some genuine emotion in almost all of the characters. Jacob, in particular, finally embraces his role as “best guy friend ever” even as his true love is married and having his rival’s demonspawn child. He finally becomes a relevant character instead of a useless third wheel who never had a chance during the last three films who always felt like a waste of screentime.

The script has been reworked so there are less awkward moments and flowery phrases than usual. The dumbest moments come from the book itself, but they couldn’t be avoided for that reason. The debate about Bella wanting to call her kid “Edward Jacob” is downright cringe inducing, as is her final choice “Renesmee.”

The most impressive part of the film is that it’s able to take the silliest plot developments that even had fans scratching their heads when the book was released, and translate them into scenes that aren’t outright laughable. Edward cutting the baby out with his teeth is not as ridiculous as it sounds when rendered in the film, and a moment I was dreading seeing realized, Jacob falling in love with Bella’s baby by “imprinting” on it, was actually quite thoughtful, as the film jumped into the girl’s future for a brief moment when she was all grown up and the appropriate age to receive his affection and devotion. It was actually a bit…touching? Gah!

“Why does that baby have to be SO HOT?”

Similarly well done was the moment the entire series has been building toward . Bella’s transformation into a vampire at long last is a journey through her veins (literally) and her memories, and it was a very solid note to end the film on. I daresay that this installment was better handled than when Harry Potter had to split his final story in half. That Part 1 movie meandered without a clear direction, and ended on a decidedly anticlimactic note. But here, we feel like we got a complete film, and the decision to cut it where they did was spot on.

If you hate Twilight, you’ll hate this movie, no doubt about it. But if you’re like me, and you’ve forced yourself to sit through the last three films and now this one, you can’t help but have it rub off a little bit on you. In terms of pure filmmaking, this is much better shot and scripted than any of the others, and manages to overcome its source material to be a somewhat effective film that is tolerable to outsiders and will undoubtedly be beloved by fans.

And I’m actually kind looking forward to seeing how it all ends. Sigh.

3 out of 5 stars


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  1. I just threw up a little in my mouth.

    Twilight 3: It’s better than the other crap.

    lol, at least they’re progressing this dribble so the mindless Twi-hards have something at least decent(?) to compare the other flicks to.

    The only intriguing part here is the idea of a vampire eating a baby out of a girl. I’ll still pass.

  2. “…the quality of these movies, at least from a cinematic perspective is going up with each new installment.”

    Rotten Tomatoes seems to disagree: 49%, 28%, 49%, 29%

    If I go see anything in the next few weeks, it’ll be the Muppets.

  3. Didn’t read the review, won’t watch the movie. This is your site and you can obviously do what you want to get cheap hits, but I’d like to point out that I stopped going to a site that I frequented for years when they started posting every detail of the latest Twilight news. I can’t turn on the tv, go to the theater, read a comic book, go on the internet, or even walk out in public without Twilight being shoved down my throat. The jokes I can suffer since it’s rife for mockery (what with it being the stupidest thing ever put to paper and all), but it’s gotten old and it’s tapped out. I would humbly request you avoid being part of the problem in the future because it really is the lamest thing in the last 10 years of pop culture and anyone hopping on that bandwagon automatically goes down in my esteem. Twilight is the Black Eyed Peas of fiction.

  4. I love how trashcanman’s response basically boiled down to “I didn’t read what you wrote, but it seemed like it was something I disagreed with so I’m never coming back to the site”

    Unreality has always had some focus on movies that have just come out…implying they’re whoring for ‘cheap hits’ because they review a specific one you don’t like is just being melodramatic.

  5. Camus said in the Outsider that a man can get used to anything given enough time.

    The same should be true with Twiglet

    I have’nt watched any of the films, read any of the books nor do I care to.

    I did however bother to read the review before commenting. I think my own personal mental integrity is not threatened by these rubbish films and don’t really care that Paul reviewed a film. Grow up Trashcanman.

  6. Few spelling mistakes that annoyed me in this – bone-bruising/brusing comes straight to mind. Also, telepathic wolf conversations, not telekinetic.

    But other than that, well done for not just jumping on the narrow-minded ‘Twilight sucks’ bandwagon. At least it’s thoughtfully reviewed.
    I will admit to liking the books and films, but they do still somewhat suck!

  7. Really? Everyone said, ‘Even if you don’t like Twilight, you’ll like this movie.” A huge rumor went around that.. this movie didn’t completely suck. I thought, okay, I have seen the other three, why not give this one a chance. Not like I was paying for the movie ticket.

    And I tried not to be rude, but I laughed so hard at some moments in this film. Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart obviously phoned in their performances long ago. Half of this movie felt like a giant music video.

    I can understand where you’re coming from, as it is far more watchable than the other films. I just don’t get how people could take Bella clutching her flat stomach, “I’m pregnant!” or her spine breaking possessed yoga moment seriously. If it wasn’t for stupid little moments that made me try to suppress giggles, I probably would have walked out from boredom.

    I’m probably still going to end up watching the last one, even though I read the book and it’s got to have the worst ending I’ve ever read outside a children’s fairy tale. At the very least, the films make great drinking games. 🙂

  8. I was waiting for this review. I’m a sucker for the books and the movies (even tho book 4 was my least favorite).
    I don’t agree with the previous comment that you’re jumping on the bandwagon – reviewing movies is your job…you’re doing your job. I highly doubt you were at the midnight showing opening night with your Team Edward shirt (all us cool people are Team Edward).
    I just don’t understand the hate towards these movies/books. They get a lot of press but that’s because their main audience are teenagers, teenagers who will go see the movie over and over, buy the dvds, soundtrack cds, posters, etc. Don’t want to watch vampires sparkle? Then don’t go see this movie! Viewing isn’t forced upon us by the government *shrugs*
    You shouldn’t feel shamed for liking a movie…especially a teen movie, for teens, concerned with teen stuff. What happened to going to the movies purely for enjoyment and to step out of reality for a few hours?

  9. Paul Tassi deserves his manhood to be revoked. I sincerely hope that you didn’t pay for that ticket.

    This series of books/movies passed “laughable” quite some time ago. People are right, Twilight is just screaming to be mocked. The only problem is where to start mocking, and where to end.
    I would be very careful comparing this series to Harry Potter in any way whatsoever. I may agree that splitting up movies effectively can be very difficult, but that is something that falls squarely on who edits these movies. When it comes to actual substance, Harry Potter and Twilight are complete polar opposites.
    Should I spend the next hour systematically ripping that series to shreds? Would it make a difference? I honestly feel sorry for creative writers like Bram Stoker or Anne Rice. This Twilight has taken the lore of vampires to a new low. And kids just soak this crap up.
    Stephen King, who should maybe teach Stephenie Meyer a thing or two about substance, summarized this whole pile of greasy, smelly garbage best:

    “Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.”

    Enough said. Besides telling that greasy vampire to maybe take a shower once every couple hundred years. His hair looks like it was dipped in a KFC grease trap.

  10. what i don’t like about this review is how you regard the Twilight Saga (and Harry POtter) films as though they’re not adapted from novels. You may not have read the books but really quite ignorant.

  11. I completely agree with your review! I liked this one a lot! Less cheese and it had my attention the entire time. But yes that wolf conversation was awful.

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