BREAKING DAWN Part 1 - All To Please The Fans
TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN Part 1 (fantasy romance)
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Anna Kendrick, Ashley Greene, Nikki Reed and Kellan Lutz
Director: Bill Condon
Screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg, based on novel by Stephanie Meyer
Time: 116 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: We gotta take our hats off to Bill Condon, an art film director tasked with making this wildly popular Twilight project. He seems to know what the legions of Twilight fans want - and he gives it to them. Trouble is, the powers-that-be got cold feet and started practising self-censorship, turning what would easily have been an R-rated film into a PG-13 one. Yes, Condon gives us a grand wedding befitting a now-famous vegan vampire and a virginal lass; he has many scenes of Taylor Lautner ripping off his shirt; and included lingering scenes of Bella and Edward frolicking in the buff at a scenic waterfall. What more can a fan ask for?
Well, watching Part 1 of Breaking Dawn leaves me with some nagging and disturbing questions: What the hell happened in Edward and Bella's honeymoon chalet at the break of dawn? Why does the bedroom look like a tornado has hit it? Why is Ed so sorry over the multiple bruises on his new wife's body? Why does Bella look so worn out but elated? So much anxiety over Bella losing her virginity and then turning it into a mystery!
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? The narrative opens with preparations for Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and Edward Cullen's (Robert Pattinson) wedding. When news of this gets to Jacob (Taylor Lautner), he dashes off into the woods - going MIA for a good part of the wedding day. He shows up to provide some drama to an otherwise boring ceremony.
With the drinking and dancing over, Bella and Edward fly off to an idyllic island for their honeymoon. This is where they finally consummate their love - leaving not only a scene of destruction and bodily bruises, but also a 'by-product' that threatens Bella's life. Soon, Edward is forced to seek Jacob's help to protect the woman they both love from beings they both fear.
HITS & MISSES: Splitting Meyer's fourth book into two parts may be a good marketing strategy but it offers the film precious little narrative to go on with. Most parts, like the wedding preparations, the ceremony, etc, seem to have been stretched and prolonged - moving the plot at a snail's pace. Fans of the book may not mind as this allows them to 'spend' more time ogling at their idols (the camera often closes in on Bella, especially in her wedding dress) but the scenes can be vacuous, if not irrelevant.
Of the cast, Stewart's acting skills are still found wanting but at least Condon is clever enough to show off her other assets - and later dramatises her growing tummy. Pattinson's Edward is as cool as always but here it is obvious that Lautner is better showing off his pecs than his emotions. The most dramatic acting is in the sequence where a pack of wolves engage in a quarrel over Bella! Billy Burke and Ashley Green get more screen time playing Bella's parents - and they tend to make the best of it. Those who have not read the book, like yours truly, may also find the fuss over Bella's pregnancy rather melodramatic. Like, why is it such a big deal that it should involve humans, vampires and werewolves? On the plus side, a touching music score enhances the requisite mood to the drama and I also like the way Part One ends.
THE LOWDOWN: Again, what the hell happened on the honeymoon?