Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part One (2011) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part One (2011)

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It's only taken four films but finally Bella Swan's back-story is complete.  Finally she has become the superheroine she dreamed of manipulating Edward into making her since the first film.  Now, complete with blood red eyes, an adoring extended family and a newfound taste for blood she will make her enemies scream in pain.

Am I reading or hoping too much for this kind of climax in Part 2?  Because if there's one thing this latest iteration in the Twilight series has taught me it's Ms. Swan is capable of twisting a situation to whatever purpose she demands.  Once again the vampires and the werewolves just pay backdrop to her getting some and obtaining new strength in the process.

Breaking Dawn - Part One is not going to convert a single blessed soul to its ways.  People going in fresh to the saga might be able to glean some enjoyment from the always entertaining melodrama on display, but if none of the other films or previous books have even perked an eyebrow then the continued sight of Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella's (Kristen Stewart) courtship will elicit more groans.  For the rest of us who have stuck with the series thus far, wasn't it nice just to see the two crazy kids happy?

Yes, Bella and Edward are completely insane.  She for choosing the eventual life of the undead wife and he for allowing himself to be so entranced by her ways.  But they're crazy in a way that works for each other, even if I (a definite member of Team Jacob) want Taylor Lautner to whisk her away to a more intense film.

Lautner spends most of the film, sadly, quite clothed but I still have faith they're saving the good bits for the next film.

For those few who have no idea what to expect in Breaking Dawn, this first part begins with the marriage of Edward and Bella then concludes right when she embraces her new vampire form.  In the mid-section we join them at the very entertaining wedding, suffer through the near-endless honeymoon, giggle at Bella's excessive horniness, and wince as Bella wastes away into nothingness after she becomes pregnant with...something.

We don't know.  Other than the fact it makes Bella into a wandering skeleton and director Bill Condon decides to superimpose some Yahoo image searches of demonic vampire babies onto the screen (Yahoo will make a comeback because of this film, mark my words).  Most of the film is concerned with making sure Bella survives to the end and fends off the werewolves who are now terribly unhappy about the pregnancy due to rules being broken on some silly treaty whose rules are about as obtuse as everything else.

I've long since stopped trying to defend the Twilight films as a "legit" piece of great cinema.  Rather, all the films succeed in the same lurid way Wild Things succeeded in 1998 and Craig Brewer continues on with today.  They're silly messes, gussied up just enough to give the intentionally misleading pretense of weighty drama, but delivered with a tongue so thoroughly planted in cheek it makes most of the silliness much easier to handle.

I became convinced Condon knew exactly what he was doing with this latest chapter when he allows Taylor Lautner to become shirtless not even one minute into the movie.  Shortly thereafter we watch all the vampires lifting entire trees for decoration and a pristine dream sequence featuring enough fake blood and nightmarish intensity it feels like an outtake from Carrie.  Then there's the infamous birth that rounds out the film, filmed with just enough tact and style so only those who are familiar with the story may really grasp what's going on, and the rest of us can just settle on being disoriented by Condon's style.

Once again, too much is made of Edward being scared of hurting Bella. Edward needs to understand, some folks just like getting bruises mixed in with their sex.

This is all entertaining trash but not without a certain sense of itself.  For example Bella's father, audience surrogate and always entertaining presence, amicably points out just how weird it is the Cullen's have a never-ending display of High School graduation caps.  From script to visuals, this is not a film afraid of poking fun at its own ridiculousness.

There's still an interesting bit of subtext to be gleaned from this latest chapter.  If Twilight was seen by some detractors as a thinly veiled metaphor for Stephanie Meyer's Mormonism, then what are we to make of Bella's first married night with Edward ending with her violent pregnancy?  Or of Bella's sexual tastes once tied to holy matrimony, which seem like they would require the skills of a potent dominatrix to tame.

No matter, none of it is really emphasized and I don't wish to do the same, at least at this juncture.  Breaking Dawn Part One managed to accomplish what the similarly poised Deathly Hallows - Part One failed to do, juxtaposing an obvious two part narrative into a single entertaining feature with its own without sacrificing any momentum.  I'm still with the series, unplanned vampire c-section and all.

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Posted by Andrew

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