The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
A; Fantasy, Adaptation
Dir: Bill Condon
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Kristin Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Michael Sheen, Anna Kendrick
Rating: * * (out of 5)
After the Harry Potter series earlier this year, it's the much-loved Twilight series' turn to get a two part finale. The phenomenally popular books written by Stephenie Meyer, which in turn have spawned an inexplicably popular series of movies, are what you might call 'critic-proof' - you can criticise them all you want, but none of that is going to make so much as a scratch on this franchise's sparkling surface.
But criticise we must, since that is what reviews are all about, so here goes: Breaking Dawn Part 1, the penultimate in the series, is better than its predecessors, which is like saying a certain politician is better because he or she is less corrupt than the others. With director Bill Condon, the man who directed the rousing Dreamgirls and the even better Kinsey, at the helm, one had higher hopes from this installment.
To his credit, there is a marked difference to this movie. The dialogue writing is tighter; there is a deliberate and noticeable attempt to be subtle (particularly a hilarious montage featuring wedding speeches) and the screenplay feels crisper. Boyfriends, husbands and general alpha males who get dragged to watch this movie, please take note: this is good news.
The bad news, as ever, is the acting and the storyline itself. As all Twilight fans and their friends, relatives and neighborhood chemists already know, Breaking Dawn Part 1 is about sparkly vampire Edward Cullen (Pattinson, in a performance where he mistakes the art of acting for gulping down a lot of saliva) and plain-Jane high school girl Bella Swan (Kristin Stewart, mistaking the art of acting for �let's not go there) getting married. The core of the story revolves around Bella accidentally getting pregnant while honeymooning in Rio De Janeiro, and how the Quileute tribe of werewolves sees a half-human-half-vampire baby as a threat to humankind. Meanwhile, Jacob Black (Lautner) seethes about the love of his life, Bella, getting married to Edward, but shows up for moral support when Bella's half-vampire child is shown to be sucking the very life out of her.
And there's the sex. In what is possibly the most underwhelming sex scene of all time, Edward and Bella are shown romping between the sheets while in Isle Esme, an idyllic island off Rio. The chemistry between the two, a real-life couple, is shockingly tepid. Just when things start to get interesting, Edward decides he can't have sex with Bella because his inhuman strength (which has been established in previous installments) is hurting her by taking the term 'bed-breaking sex' a little too literally. He decides to spend the rest of their honeymoon playing chess while a dissatisfied Bella attempts in vain to seduce him by making the most uncomfortable 'come hither' expressions since Rob Schneider in The Hot Chick.
There's only so much one can blame the filmmakers, given the source material they're working with. In fact, some of the best moments in the movie come from Melissa Rosenberg's screenplay, most of which involve Bella's father Charlie (Burke, by far the best actor in all the Twilight movies). The rest oscillates between 'unbearably sappy' and 'unintentionally hilarious.'