The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1
Here We Go Again

One thing you can say for the filmmakers behind The Twilight Saga, they certainly know their audience.  And they know what that audience wants.  That’s clear from the opening of the latest chapter, Breaking Dawn – Part 1, as the very first thing that happens in the movie is that Taylor Lautner takes off his shirt.  Surprisingly, that is about the only time that Lautner takes his shirt off in this movie, which proves to be much more restrained than the previous chapters.  Does that mean it’s better than the three movies that preceded it?  Well, yes, but that is not necessarily saying much.

As you might recall, the last movie in the franchise ended with Edward proposing to Bella.  The wedding plans took place in the interim as the new movie opens with the wedding.  Actually, it opens with Jacob receiving his invitation, hence the sudden need to aggressively take his shirt off, but then it quickly moves to the wedding.  With the exception of a couple of small hiccups that you might expect at a wedding attended by humans, werewolves, and vampires, the ceremony goes well and Edward and Bella are then whisked away to a private island for their honeymoon.  There are brief worries that Edward (a vampire) might hurt Bella (a human) when they consummate their marriage, but it gets done.  No sooner is the marriage consummated, however, than Bella finds herself with child.

When I referred to this chapter in the saga as being more restrained, I was also referring to the settings as, outside of the honeymoon sequence, the majority of the movie takes place in and around the Cullen house.  The baby is rapidly growing inside Bella’s belly and the general consensus is that she will not survive the birthing process.  Meanwhile, the werewolves have gotten word that there may be a demon growing inside of Bella and are eager and willing to break the truce with the Cullens to make sure it will never be.  Standing in their way is one of their own, Jacob, who is willing to put his dislike for Edward and the rest of the Cullens aside in order to protect the well-being of Bella and her baby.  In fact, the lengths he is willing to go may surprise you.

Pattinson and Stewart as Edward and Bella in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1That is, unless you’ve read the book.  And let’s face it, the majority of people rushing to see Breaking Dawn have either read the book or learned the plotline by cultural osmosis.

The movie’s restrained format actually works for it and feels a lot less restrictive than you might think it would.  If nothing else, it keeps the focus away from the movie’s special effects.  Although improved from the last movie and a huge improvement over the first couple of movies, the special effects still seem subpar by current industry standards.  The worst example from this chapter is not so much a visual effect as it is an audio effect, as there is something off about the scene in which the wolves talk to each other as actual wolves.  The sound in this scene is very poor and it distracts from what they are actually saying.

Speaking of the audio, the movie’s music is also a distraction.  Both the score and the featured songs overpower the action and take the audience out of the movie, rather than bringing them into it.

Script-wise, there are a couple of nice moments.  For instance, a wedding speech montage is actually rather funny.  It helps, though, that most of those speeches were delivered by actors other than the principal three as Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson both still have horrible, wooden deliveries, while Taylor Lautner’s angry line readings don’t mesh well with his nasally, higher-pitched voice.  Some of the dialogue will also having you laughing for all the wrong reasons.  I almost fell out of my chair when Bella revealed what she would name the baby if it was a boy.

Strangely enough, the script’s strong point is actually undercut by the fact that there is going to be a Part 2.  There’s no question that the main storyline in The Twilight Saga is the complicated relationship between Edward, Bella, and Jacob.  Well, this movie wraps up with one of those characters making a strong gesture towards healing that relationship that seems like it would have been a tidy place to wrap up the whole franchise.  But I guess the Volturi need their moment in the sun—so to speak—too, and so Part 2 will be.

Just like the Harry Potter franchise, The Twilight Saga has gotten better with each sequential chapter.  Unfortunately, since the Saga began on a much lower tier than Harry, it is only now closing in on the ballpark of even the lesser of the Harry Potter movies.  That’s not going to matter to its main fan base, however, who are sure to love it anyways.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is rated PG-13 for “disturbing images, violence, sexuality/partial nudity and some thematic elements.”  They edited the sex scene to keep it PG-13 and I doubt too many people will react to the scene as is.  There is a pretty bloody moment toward the end, however, that might disturb some.

Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1