Breaking Dawn Sucks (Blood)

By Kim Giordano

The fourth installment of Stephenie Meyer’s blood-sucking teen romance novels turned films, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1” follows every “Twihard” fan’s favorite couple, vampire Edward and mortal Bella as they prepare for their wedding and the drama that will soon follow after.

The movie opens very appropriately for the target audience: Jacob (Taylor Lautner) wordlessly and effortlessly rips his shirt off, sparking an outbreak of cheers and applause from the audience. The rest of the film follows suit, and it quickly becomes clear that director Bill Condon (“Kinsey,” “Dreamgirls”) made this film primarily for the fans of the series – and not for the general public to enjoy, or even really understand.

Having just graduated high school, 18-year-old Bella (Kristen Stewart) is able to have her fairytale wedding. Condon does a wonderful job with the sequence, stretching out one of the most anticipated events of the series to adequately satisfy fans, musically referring back to the first movie, and momentarily deflecting the fact that the couple getting married is so young. At one point during the ceremony, one of her former peers mentions the notion of Bella being knocked up and says, sarcastically, what no one else will – that it is “totally normal to get married at 18.”

This highlights one of the more infuriating aspects of the movie – and, by association, the book: the reluctance to question such a young marriage. Instead, the couple is met with general approval from family and friends, with the exception of the lupine Jacob, whose reasons for objecting to the wedding are mostly selfish.

The film keeps up a strangely lighthearted tone through the honeymoon, which is comprised of one big montage. The morning after sequence consists of a broken headboard, pillows torn with feathers strewn about and bruises lining Bella’s entire body – all the while, though, she seems to be smiling. The effect, meant to be comedic, is rather unnerving.

The self-destructive behavior continues when Bella learns she is pregnant with a vampire baby. Ignoring Edward’s desperate pleas to abort, Bella soldiers on. What results is a disturbing depiction by Condon of a dying and decrepit Bella. Just as the characters are confused by how a vampire can impregnate a human, so is the audience. The question is never answered, and the interspecies offspring gestates healthily.

The only seemingly rational individual throughout this entire ordeal is Jacob. Lautner, who may give the best performance in the film, is seen more with the vampires than his wolf pack, depriving this film of the pulse-pounding action seen in previous installments. Some action is included, but it is quite unexciting and almost laughable. The never-before-heard speaking voices of the CGI wolves probably should have remained unheard, as they all ended up sounding eerily similar to Darth Vader.

Though cast performances have generally improved from the previous films, Stewart remains painfully awkward as Bella. Robert Pattinson, as Edward, has set his character in stone, not expected to deliver as much in this part as in the others. As always, performances by the supporting cast threaten to surpass those of the two leads. Specifically, siblings Emmet (Kellan Lutz) and Alice (Ashley Greene) as well as Bella’s father, Charlie (Billy Burke) provide sturdy character work. Their fleeting moments on screen were highly enjoyable.

What has remained unchanged, unfortunately, is the screenwriting. Melissa Rosenberg’s screenplay is just as terribly ham-fisted and with as many inexplicable pauses as the first three movies, often causing the audience to erupt into fits of laughter. Unfortunately, she doesn’t give the actors much to work with.

Not delving into the debate of Bella as a role model for young girls, the director does faithfully translate the reality of her dreams coming true. Fans will undoubtedly appreciate that the film’s focus is on the romantic “true love” message that drew most of them to the books and movies in the first place. The intimate little moments between the couple will be more than enough to string fans along until “Breaking Dawn – Part 2” is released next fall.

Kim Giordano can be reached at [email protected]