Thursday, December 1, 2011

New Release Review: Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (Bill Condon, 2011)

Well, here we are, venturing into the grotesque waters of the Twilight Saga for the second time. I skipped over New Moon and Eclipse (which I assumed were just the same film), but thought I would see what all the fuss was about for this one. There were talks of an explicit sex scene that could have pushed the classification into an MA15+ category, and a gruesome delivery sequence that caused people to suffer nausea. Having now suffered the film and all its barely endurable qualities, I wonder why there was any fuss.

As anyone who has read the novels (seemingly half of the world) would know, but it’s also pretty obvious from the trailer, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) are to marry. The film opens with a series of lame wedding preparations, a peculiar dream experienced by Bella the night before the ceremony (which involved the corpses of all of her family and friends stacked together - if only), and the wedding itself. After the vows are delivered in the usual bored and monotone fashion, they are declared husband and wife. Despite a couple of amusing speeches, this might be the dullest wedding ever committed to film.

Not all is smooth sailing for Bella, because Jacob turns up to fake his happiness at the affair, and expresses his distress when he realizes that Bella intends to spend her wedding night and the Honeymoon like any other married couple – only as a human. Eww. Well, that’s what does happen – and amidst the lake swimming, the chess games (what the?) and the glorious first time (in which Edward rips the bed head apart and destroys the room), Bella winds up pregnant. It is first implied that this is the result of the previous night’s activities (which is impossible). Bella then attributes the phenomenon to the fact that she is late on her period, and that it must have occurred in the fourteen days since the wedding (also, not possible, right?). Then she feels something moving inside her. Okay, so this is the work of fiction (and a demented mind) but seriously, if you suspend your disbelief enough and go with the idea that the spawn of a human and a vampire is growing at a rapid rate inside Bella, you still realize that nothing makes any sense at all.

The first half of this film is so incredibly boring, and padded out, it makes the second half (which is actually far worse filmmaking) seem somewhat exciting. It is certainly more unintentionally funny, which is part of the reason I went in the first place. The first 45 minutes of this film could have been over in about 15. There is so much staring into one another’s eyes, every scene is drawn out – we watch every step Bella takes down the aisle, for instance. The stopover in Rio makes no sense, not to mention having to endure Bella rummage through her luggage and brushing her teeth and shaving her legs in preparation for her ‘first time’. Anyway, once she finds out she is pregnant, and everyone freaks out, she is brought back to the Cullen’s place where Edward’s family looks after her.

This does not sit well with Jacob's wolf clan. Having discovered the news, the leader orders that Bella be killed, or the thing be killed as soon as it is born. Jacob, in his big moment, rejects the orders of his leader and vows to protect Bella from their attack. This sure-to-be-famous sequence is so hilarious (and you have to laugh) that my friend and I gave it some silent applause following. It is definitely the worst scene of the year. Scratch that. One of the worst sequences I have ever seen committed to film. It was almost surpassed by the wolf/vampire battle at the film's climax. 

With Bella deciding to have the baby, and seemingly oblivious to the fact that this is not a natural conception (duh) and may actually kill her in the process, Jacob rushes to Bella's aid and assists the Cullen's in looking after her. She is convinced that Edward can turn her at the last minute, and actually doesn't seem to care whether she dies or not. She grows steadily less healthy. If there was an element of the film to praise, it is actually the make-up and effects used to make Bella look sick. Quite impressive. The gruesome birth scene is far from gruesome - but she has the child, and to eliminate the threat of the wolves in easy fashion, Jacob imprints on the newborn (at ten minutes old, it already looks about six months) - which means that he has an eternal bond, or something - and now the wolves can't harm the child. How convenient.

Look, all this film needs is a final dramatic shot to draw the twihards back for another instalment. This film delivers exactly that. To say that this is one of the worst films I have seen this year is an understatement. In some ways it is actually better than the first Twilight film, but in many ways it was far far worse. It wasn't an awful experience. My friend and I were in a pretty empty cinema (amazing!) and we had the opportunity to make snide remarks, laugh at the horrendous performances and be vocal with our disgust. The conversation following the film, picking apart all of the flaws in the story, was just as fun. 

All of the same problems exist here again. The material is rotten, Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan is boring, Taylor Lautner is a laughing stock whenever he is on screen and Robert Pattinson (and his family) still seems like he got too close to a chalk duster fight. There is no way this film needed to be split in half. Nothing happened in the first half, it was padded with bullshit, and the second is exactly the same as New Moon and Eclipse I imagine. What a tedious waste of time.

My Rating: ★ (D-)


  1. I guess the so-bad-it's-hilarious element prevented the film from receiving a F rating.

  2. Ouch. I wasn't interested in seeing this film but now I want to watch it to see just how bad it really is.

  3. Hehe. This film was so bad. Though the real gem still is New Moon. It's so hilariously terrible.

    In this, the last shot that everyone in the world knew about but they decided to build up terribly anyway, I want James Cameron to sue them for it. Now that will be fun.

  4. Ahaha I wanted to see this in theater at one point. Then reason got to me. I ain't paying for this crap.

  5. A gem. A glimmering light. Dazzling and provocative. Mesmerizing. All synonyms for the film.

    A stunning piece of cinema on every conceivable level.

  6. :) It was so bad! I remember a scene where the Cullens were talking to Bella and Jasper says, at one point "Possibily"...everyone started laughing at how bad was it! Kristen Stewart is so boring and not interesting- I hate her blinking frenzy- how come does that count as acting? what do you express with it?

  7. completely agree about the first hour, it could have been about 20 minutes shorter easily. Then it all went completely weird for a while (talking wolves part was hilarious) It was like they'd got a competition winner in from the local primary school in to write some of it. Having said that i actually thought the last 25minutes were quite good, and surprisingly shocking. Overall though, yeah terrible.

    And yeah Aziza's right about the 'possibly' line, although where i was watching i was the only one who laughed out loud at it!

  8. @ Steven - Yeah, several hilarious moments in the second half (which should have meant an F rating) actually saved it.

    @ Dan - I can't recommend it. It's purely for fans - but if you have a free pass or get the opportunity to see it without paying, then give it a shot.

    @ Nikhat - I can't imagine New Moon if it is more terrible than this.

    @ Castor - Don't do it, my friend. It's diabolical.

    @ Sam - Yeah, spot on. Couldn't have put it better myself.

    @ Aziza - Haha. I remember that part. There's no way to justify this as a good film. Perhaps it is a faithful adaptation and a winner for Twilight fans - but it's not a good movie. It's a shit movie. Yeah, Kristen Stewart delivers another stellar performance :-p

    @ filmdrivel - The people who wrote that scene (and the film, overall) should be very embarrassed. It was shocking, that's for sure, but that Wolf/Vampire battle was pretty dreadful, and the whole Imprint thing was ridiculously convenient. I don't think I laughed out loud at that part, but I definitely shook my head. As much as it is painful to say, the first half, though it was painfully long, was better filmmaking, I thought. Thanks for reading!

  9. Given how much you hated this I'm also surprised you didn't go for an F. The only films that I saw this year that fit that rating are Sucker Punch and Your Highness. It was worth the read like I thought it would be. Great review!

  10. Actually Andy, the Twilight Books aren't that popular among everyone, it just has a specific target audience (large, I'd admit) but it has it's own fans.

  11. @ Max - I couldn't give it an F because it still served up something for the fans - and from I have been told, didn't butcher the book (but was quite faithful :-/) Also, some of the latter half scenes redeemed it on an entertainment level (so bad it's hilarious). For me, Your Highness, Transformers: DOTM and Sucker Punch fit the F rating, with another 10 or so scoring low D's.

    @ Charles - I guess I was exaggerating a little. The novels are huge bestsellers and having worked at a cinema it seems like half of the city is squeezed into the foyers on the early nights of release. I guess a large quantity of the target audience are die-hard fans, and then whoever they can con to drag along. Outside of that circle, I assume they are loathed.

  12. Whatta God awful shitty mess. We deserve medals for sitting through this garbage.

  13. We did do well didn't we? Man, some of the scenes in the second half were just so diabolically bad that it became sort of entertaining haha. No?

  14. Bahahaha. Excellent. I actually thought the scene where she "prepared" herself for the first night a little sweet. it's something people actually do. Mostly it was just ridiculous though. Great review Andrew :)