The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1

  • Year:2011
  • Rating:M
  • Director:Bill Condon
  • Cast:Taylor Lautner, Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart
  • Release Date:November 17, 2011
  • Distributor:Hoyts
  • Running time:117 minutes
  • Film Worth:$11.00
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

The most melodramatic installment in the series, but if you’re willing to suspend your disbelief (and laughter), it’s a compelling and entertaining ride.

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With The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part One, we're now four movies into this five part series, but the first film of the franchise, released in 2008, still remains the best of the bunch. A beautiful, moody and compelling adaptation, one of the keys to its success was the fact that director Catherine Hardwicke delved into Stephenie Meyer's world of high stakes teenage angst without a scrap of condescension and sidestepped many of the camp elements that later directors - Chris Weitz in New Moon and David Slade to a lesser degree in Eclipse - fell prey to. With Bill Condon recruited to adapt the final novel in the saga - Breaking Dawn, which is being released as two films - there were high hopes attached given the director's impressive credentials (Kinsey, Dreamgirls). Condon and scriptwriter Melissa Rosenberg, however, follow Meyer's bloated prose so dutifully that this disappointingly becomes the most melodramatic, overheated and camp version of the series so far.

For any remaining Team Edward fans, however, this will make for one indulgently gratifying ride as we finally see realised many of the events and moments that have been simmering away within the past three films. Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart) finally tie the knot (their exchange of vows is actually quite sweet and touching), they do "the deed" (apart from Edward breaking the bed - despite his attempt to keep his sheer power in check - we're privy to very little, but are assured by Edward the morning after that it was "the best night of his existence"), and Bella winds up on her deathbed after she falls pregnant on their honeymoon. This brings a fuming Jacob (Taylor Lautner) into the picture as he rushes to an increasingly weak Bella's aid, and the situation for the trio is further complicated when the wolf pack decides this vampire child is an intolerable future threat...

As subject material, Breaking Dawn is the most visceral, supernatural and in some ways horrific, novel of the series so far, but Condon - probably feeling the heat of the studio, as well as the legion of hardcore fans - resists any attempt at experimentation in the way that he interprets the story. That said, the scene in which Bella goes into labour doesn't shy away from the novel's graphic details and commendably pushes the film to its tween limits. It's the most harrowing moment of the series so far but it's also layered with a sense of the absurd. What makes many of the film's dramatic moments slightly hollow and more laughable than they should be is that the mythology is never satisfyingly fleshed out with history and back stories reduced to snippets or fleeting remarks.

Despite all its flaws, including its slightly lagging middle section, this still remains strangely compelling. While Meyer may be leagues away from being labelled a literary wonder, she's tapped into something that's gripped the minds of teenagers everywhere; she's taken real teen emotions and desires and let them play out in a world defined by the extreme. Furthermore, while the acting in the Twilight films has never been the series' trump card, the actors' appeal in their roles - very much defined by now - is clearly evident here. And at this stage in the series, it's not really about winning any new converts; it's about giving the fans what they want. In that regard, this will undoubtedly register as a hit success.

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