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Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1

I've fallen a bit behind with updates recently but a roundup of films released over the last couple of weeks is forthcoming - as is my review of the odd remake of Straw Dogs. For now, though, while it is fresh in my mind after having seen it this afternoon (they forgot to invite me to the screening), my thoughts of the latest in the frankly inexplicably huge Twilight saga. 

Those vegetarian, twinkly vampires are back for the first part of the final installment of the cinematic adaptation of the biggest literary success since the Harry Potter series. And if you think that sentence is overblown and long-winded, wait until you see the film. The last three films have ranged between laughably bad and pretty poor but the Twilight series has never been this boring.

The usual ingredients are all here: sparkly vampires, brooding werewolves, mostly irrelevant humans and - most crucially - the overcooked romance between a human girl and her soulful vampire suitor and the excruciating agony of their inability to consummate their relationship without the monster within him bursting free. Now, as always, I find it impossible to watch a Twilight film without being seriously bugged by just how much this whole plot is ripped straight out of Buffy The Vampire Slayer season 3 (and even though it was by far the worst thing about that particular season, it was just oh so much better there) but this time things are slightly different: Bella and Edward are getting married and, at last, they will finally get round to doing the deed - in strictly PG13 fashion, of course.           

Now, quite why getting hitched allows them to get down and dirty is never entirely explained, of course. Jacob - the mopey werewolf, played, as always by Taylor Lautner or, more correctly, by Taylor Lautner's pecs and eyebrows - raises this point himself to the theoretically happy couple but they seem to have as much trouble taking him seriously as the rest of us. Either way, the first half of the film consists of nothing but the Bella/ Edward wedding, the Bella/ Edward honeymoon and the Bella/ Edward moping about how he could only have sex with her once (and, again I must ask, huh?).

Not that most of the rest of the film is any better. Apparently proving that once is all it takes and that Edward's aim is indeed true, Bella quickly falls pregnant with a half-vampire/ half-human (or something) fetus that threatens to destroy her from the inside out before she has a chance to deliver it. Quite why turning her into a vampire wouldn't solve this problem is never really explained but that's nowhere near as inexplicable as the other major plot happening at the same time: the area's werewolf contingent suddenly decide that the vampire-or-whatever baby is a huge threat to "tribe and town" and has to be dealt with post haste. Once again, I ask thee, huh?

The film does admittedly pick up for its final 20 minutes or so, promising, at the very least, a better sequel but the decision to split the final book in two - a la Harry Potter - was clearly a huge mistake. Giving the fans a two-part finale for Harry Potter worked brilliantly as the first part ramped up the story to its final thrilling conclusion in part two, all the while spending plenty of time on characterization and some nicely dystopian world-building. Would that I could say the same about Twilight.

Here we have two hours of not very much happening, happening very slowly, without seeming to build up to anything in particular at all. There is the occasional decent moment - a beautifully horrific dream here, a surprisingly effective emotional beat or two there - but all of that gets lost amongst shallow characterizations, a badly thought out plot, sluggish pacing and an overdone sense of gloom. That Anna Kendrick, as Bella's former best friend, offers up a few moments of levity towards the beginning of the film, only highlights just how far off the rails the rest of the film goes. 

It's atmospherically shot, adequately put together by Bill  Condon (respected director of the likes of Kinsey, Dreamgirls and Gods and Monsters) and Kirsten Stewart, already the best actor of the three leads, has noticeably upped her game but none of this does much to change the fact that where once the Twilight saga was at least laughably awful, it is now simply tedious and uninteresting. And that is far less forgivable.               

Oh, and I know it was a stupid idea in the first place but why don't the so-called vampires in the film even so much as glitter in the sun anymore? Add that to the pile, I guess...


  1. Well written! What a hideous thought having a half-human / half-vampire fetus growing inside you sucking the blood from its very own lifeline... quite horrible in fact! Well - I'm going for the laughs! But I must admit that I have wholly lost interest in the story. As you said, being a rip-off of Buffy puts it in a poor second place. (Those weren't entirely your words, but I adapted :))

  2. Thanks, man!

    Speaking of... have you watched more Buffy?

  3. Not yet, actually watching reruns of Alias! But will get there - and DON'T lynch me - but I have still not watched Back to the Future! *OUCH*