Reviewed by: Megan Bosque
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
Alright, let’s start with the good stuff—yes, there are surprisingly a few decent things to say about the fourth movie installment of the Twilight series.
But first off, just to recap, Breaking Dawn P1 picks up where movie/book #3 left off: Jacob still painfully loves Bella, Bella is still an awkward human supposedly in love with but reluctant to marry the ever pale and sparkly Edward, and Edward is eternally moping around and love sick, sticking to his “honorable” 1900’s era sentiments of marriage before, um, vampire love making. The movie opens with an angry Taylor Lautner (Jacob) receiving an invitation to Edward and Bella’s (Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart) wedding and tearing off his shirt to grant the audience an full on six-pack glory shot literally five seconds into the movie.
While this opening doesn’t leave much hope for Breaking Dawn to be any sort of improvement over the last three Twilight installments, the movie quickly moves to the slightly more interesting and very highly anticipated wedding scene. Director Bill Condon (known for Dreamgirls, Chicago) makes his mark at this point with a nightmare Bella has the night before the wedding. Not to spoil it but, it’s visually pleasing and actually creepy. I know, Twilight got a little creepy…it is a vampire movie after all.
The set is legitimately beautiful and the wardrobe choices are stunning. Regardless of what Twilight haters have to say about this movie series, the wedding is going to be trend setting for sure and will be potentially more iconic than this year’s failed Kardashian wedding. I can say with complete certainty that the Carolina Herrera gown and surprisingly simple and elegant invitation are going to cause quite a stir in the 2012 wedding season. The whole wedding scene is just…pretty…like a sparkly vampire. And the best part of the movie is the wedding speech montage (viewer beware—there are a LOT of montages in this movie). Finally, the Twilight cast is funny and has a collective sense of humor and Billy Burke as Charlie Swan shines as a cautious, worried father doing his best to be okay with an 18 year old daughter getting married, which by the way is a trend I majorly hope does not pick up.
The wedding is enjoyable to watch but the fun is short lived when Jacob surprises the bride by showing up and the two share an awkward hello where Bella declares that the day is “now perfect” (funny, you just married the vampire, awkward that you weren’t happy until the wolf shows up). His presence is a reminder that there is going to be a honeymoon and a wedding night and thankfully at least one person has an issue with the looming vampire-human union.
Cue the honeymoon scene. It’s hard to even write about the honeymoon scene. Although incredibly anticipated by 14 year olds and soccer mom’s alike because of its attempt to be romantic and traditional (yay, they waited until marriage), it just is for lack of a better word, uncomfortable. Edward and Bella are alone on an island off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and it’s just weird from that point on. There’s a whole scene with Edwella skinny dipping in waist deep water, bathed in moonlight for their first encounter. It’s really, truly not sexy, I promise. Not only does Bella have to give herself a pep talk to even undress in front of Edward but then spends the whole water scene trying to stay covered to maintain the movie’s PG-13 rating. Stewart’s real life lanky gawkiness just makes the whole scene even harder to watch. What feels like almost the rest of the movie is a lengthy honeymoon montage. Oh forgot to mention—Edward’s vampire strength destroys the couple’s marriage bed and pretty much entire honeymoon villa and bruises Bella black and blue, which she apparently doesn’t mind and almost literally begs for more, much to sensitive Edward’s chagrin.
And surprise! She’s pregnant too. Parents taking their teenage daughters to see this movie need to actually pause and realize that this movie somewhat glamorizes high school aged marriage and rough and borderline abusive sex resulting in unplanned pregnancy. Maybe not author Stephenie Meyer’s intention, but that is the plot.
The movie then slows down as the whole conundrum of Bella’s pregnancy settles in (What is she having? Will she survive it? Did it just move? Is it a demon? What did they do?!?) and rises to a fever pitch when Jacob and his wolf pack become involved. The whole issue is complicated—the “baby” breaks the wolf-vampire treaty in the wolves’ opinion and they want to destroy it, Jacob is torn apart by his loyalty to Bella and his pack and eventually breaks off to be his own alpha, Edward finds himself awkwardly in cahoots with Jacob again because they both want what’s best for Bella and Bella is intent on maintaining a deadly pregnancy while turning into a walking [pregnant] skeleton since her baby is ravenously sucking away all her body’s nutrients.
This is where the movie takes a serious turn for disturbing, creepy, and unnecessary. It begins with Bella drinking blood through a straw from a Styrofoam cup to provide her unborn child with nourishment. Trust me, it is gross. Just gross. Even the audience of Twilovers groaned at this scene. Viewer beware—watching Stewart sip blood is repugnant. However, her makeup transformation is incredibly believable and Stewart spends the better part of the movie with sunken cheeks and deep circles around her eyes. She’s very believably starving to death and in great pain.
Here we come to the most uncomfortable movie birthing scene EVER. Labor begins for Bella when the baby (who apparently has inherited her father’s superhuman strength) breaks Bella’s spine and several other bones. Bella ends up in labor with Jacob and Edward by her side and is given a violent, bloody hack job c-section. Edward actually cuts the cord with his teeth, and while they don’t show this part, the sound effects and Edward’s bloody mouth after are truly revolting. I don’t want to spoil everything here but what follows is a long scene involving lingering focus on Stewart’s barely covered post delivery body laying motionless on the delivery table. Again, even the committed audience I was surrounded by seemed utterly disturbed. All this happens while Jacob is busy imprinting on the just born Rensemee Cullen so that she will be forever protected from the murderous wolfpack. In all fairness, the imprint montage (yes, another montage) is a decent attempt to make Jacob’s decision to love a newborn baby less weird and pedophiliac in nature.
Good news though—Bella survives and begins to transform into a vampire. This transformation is another pretty cool part of the movie. The visual effects are well done (more than I can say for the wolves…) and the transformation is cool to watch…the end. Well, not really but views are teased with having to wait for Part 2 to see the fully transformed Bella.
Kudos on attempting to make the best Twilight movie ever to the cast and crew. Not sure they succeeded in making this a decent movie but at least some of it was bearable. The movie soundtrack was actually really great too—not surprisingly as the movie franchise has attracted relatively big names like Paramore and Bruno Mars.
Take this movie for what it is. Parents—seriously, no joke, use caution and all viewers: sit tight in your seats through the credits. There is a surprisingly amusing coda that introduces a second cliffhanger.