It’s hard to feel much sympathy or affection for characters who spend even the happiest day of their life brooding, after subjecting us to three previous films in which all they ever did was sulk over being separated from each other.
In The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, fourth installment of the ridiculously successful Twilight franchise, Kristen Stewart’s mopey-eyed Bella Swan prepares for her wedding and her honeymoon with pasty-faced vampire Edward Cullen, played by Robert Pattinson. For close to thirty minutes the camera floats lovingly over the glossy wedding, where vampires and humans set aside their gnawing differences to mutually toast the couple.
On their Brazilian honeymoon, Edward and Bella finally get into the sack to consummate their romance, and the morning after, she wakes up with bruises on her body, and the bed reduced to shambles. Roughly fourteen days later, she discovers she’s pregnant.
Given that Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books and these films they’ve spawned come loaded with messages of abstinence, you’d think someone would have reminded them to carry birth control to the honeymoon. But no! Poor Bella must now pay the price for their foolishness by carrying around a little critter in her belly that’s possibly a human-vampire hybrid. When the foetus hungers for blood, it sucks the life out of Bella who starts to wither away, until someone comes up with the wise idea of quenching its appetite by feeding Bella blood in a Starbucks styrofoam cup.
On the werewolf front, Taylor Lautner’s Jacob is still in a funk over his second-place status for Bella’s affection. Yet he hangs around like a doormat when she gets sick, and even feuds with his wolfpack when they decide to attack her before she can deliver another bloodsucker into the world.
This penultimate film in the saga starts off promisingly, but swiftly sinks into the quicksand of silliness that has dogged this series since after Catherine Hardwicke’s moody first film. There’s a scene in Breaking Dawn Part 1, in which the wolves stand around and chat like normal people – it’s by far the film’s stupidest scene, followed closely by an underwhelming action sequence between vamps and werewolves that shows us just how poorly CGI can be used.
Among the film’s highlights is a freaky birth scene, and a nice cliffhanger that hints at Bella’s fate as we head into the final chapter of this saga that will arrive in cinemas next year. The romance between Bella and Edward is gently filmed in those lush honeymoon portions, but what’s missing is the adequate dramatic tension as their situation gets more somber.
Breaking Dawn Part 1 is an improvement on both New Moon and Eclipse, but it’s still got so much unintentional humor and clunky dialogue that only fans of the series – or Twi-hards as they’ve come to be known – will still be able to embrace it. I’m going with two out of five for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1. If you’re not a fan, look at it this way – there’s only one more film to go, and then we’re rid of them once and for all.