This is awkward. Photo: Summit Entertainment.
Already, the Wikipedia article to The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 is just a shade longer than The Godfather, and, although achingly bad, it is the fifth highest ranking movie in weekend ticket sales--$139.5 million—just shy of its predecessor, New Moon.
Split in half, triggered no doubt by the final two Harry Potter films, Breaking Dawn will surely be looked upon as the franchise version of Labyrinth—awesomely bad as it oozes tween shivers. But then again it’s also the same series in which a Radiohead song appeared and Carter Burwell (composer of many Coen Brothers’ movies) scored the latest. I’ve kept up, dutifully, with the first three, seeing each installment in second-run theaters (The Kennedy School, Regal Vancouver Plaza 10), and each time amongst a very giggly crowd. I’ve tried in vain to remember the importance of The Volturi and why these vampires and werewolves hate each other so much. Fug it. Part 2 will explain everything, I’m sure.
Because, unfortunately for vast amounts of spectators forced to sit through this, Part 1 doesn’t delegate much time explaining the fine details of the continuing story. Its opening act is an appetizer before the long -awaited sequences of carnal frolicking undead nativity. But before all that, Bella and Edward need to make it official. (Jacob tosses his wedding invite on the ground and runs off shirtless into the forest, howling.) Prior to the plunge, Bella has grizzly visions of her and Edward standing atop an altar of dead bodies. She knows what’s at stake for her and her family. She needs to become a vampire and fast—I think—or else other vampires will kill her? The movie is hazy on the details. Director Bill Condon, coming into the mix here and having seemingly zero bearing on how to handle the finale’s wacko plotline, brings you to the edge of coherence before taking you to a Brazilian island and eating up time with silly montages of Bella preparing for sex, then wanting nothing but sex.
And now to the coitus: The scenes are so passionate that the two reduce their bedpost to nothing more than mere kindling, and this might be a good time to note that, like all the other films, it’s rated a puritanical PG-13. Things, however, get a little dicey when Bella actually becomes pregnant—an impossibility! The baby, alarmingly strong and growing very fast, cuts their honeymoon short and beats the hell out of poor Bella from the inside, breaking her ribs and craving blood as nutrition (again, a PG-13 rating). The rest of the Cullens discuss, in icy detail, exactly what should be done. The baby will most certainly kill Bella, but she’s determined to let it come out. Stranger than the bizarre name hybrids she wants to call it, is without a doubt the weirdest birth scene put on screen. I found myself admiring the determination Condon pursued in pushing the boundaries of what parent’s will accept.
Sure, there’s other stuff that happens in Breaking Dawn. But it all feels like such useless twaddle. By the end, the movie wraps up so concretely that non-readers of the books will scratch their heads in bewilderment, wondering how on earth this story can go on. Admittedly, I’m a bit curious. (Apparently, those Volturi, they have some interest in this new child of the Cullen’s.) But sadly, once Part 2 comes along, I’ll have forgotten what “imprinting” is—if I ever did in the first place. That scene is portrayed with a simple shot of a newborn baby looking at Jacob and him consequently falling to his knees. “Whoever a wolf prints on can’t be harmed. It’s their most absolute law,” says Edward. Thanks for clearing up the confusion, I guess. Something tells me this baby is still in danger. PG-13.