Breaking Dawn Part 1: Review Time!

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, today was the day I finally got to see the much-anticipated first installment of the final Twilight Saga story, Breaking Dawn Part 1.  Alas, my hopes for a new love scene to add to my best-of list were dashed, as there was very little to see.  The romantic elements were tastefully handled, as could be expected for a PG-13 film, and as promised the headboard got smashed (as well as a collapsed canopy that I wasn’t expecting), but for the most part the honeymoon sequences focused on Bella’s growing sexual frustration due to Edward’s refusal to make love to her again after bruising her up during their initial encounter (brilliantly filmed as a series of chess games featuring an increasingly horny Bella getting more and more irritated).  I noticed that the pale-glittery vampire makeup on all the Cullen characters was downplayed in this installment (fine by me, it had gotten a little distracting), but other than the delivery of the long-awaited vampire love, how was the rest of the movie?

In all honesty, while I love me some Twilight, I’m not as much of a Twihard as the fluffy hubby is, so using his reaction as a bellwether, this was a fairly worthy entry in the series.  His main quibble was the inordinate amount of screen time that the wedding was given (to be expected from a dude).  Kristen Stewart’s Bella appeared in two different wedding gowns– one in a dream sequence, the other her actual wedding dress.  The dress in the dream sequence was a typical dull strapless number that looked straight off the rack from David’s Bridal, but the real wedding gown– a Carolina Herrera original which has already spawned knockoffs– was a gorgeous, slightly medieval-styled masterpiece with a dramatic, buttoned lace back, sweeping train, scoop neck and sculpted-lace sleeve detailing with even more buttons.

Pretty, huh?  And very much in keeping with the character.  The shoes (luscious Manolo Blahniks) were even given a little emphasis in the problems Bella was having walking in them– they were awesome too, but in the scene in which she dances with Jacob we note that she’s changed to Keds.  Bella has some issues with The Fashion, and even when she arrives at their honeymoon beach cottage, she carries the black heels she was wearing and goes barefoot.  However, that’s where any emphasis on clothing related to the plot ends– Bella dons a mere towel to meet Edward on the beach after a frantic I’m-getting-ready-to-lose-my-virginity montage, and after the horizontal bop ensues, all the focus is on how terrible Bella looks because of the vamp-baby she’s carrying.

The peripheral Cullens (and incidental members of the wolf pack) have a little more screen time this outing, notably Rosalie (Nikki Reed), who helps Bella through her difficult pregnancy because she’s always wanted a child of her own, and Leah (Julia Jones), who explains to Jacob (and thereby the audience) some of the particulars of how Imprinting works.  We also get some glimpses of what the somewhat confusing mind-speech among the wolf pack is like, but unlike the last film, Eclipse, there is very little action– the film could best be described as half wedding/honeymoon, and half Bella-is-dying-because-of-the-pregnancy.  And by the time Renesmee arrives in all her spine-snapping, Jacob-Imprinting power, Bella has devolved into a truly scary-looking shell of herself, all toothpick limbs, sunken eyes, and greasy tangled hair, not to mention that nightmarishly swollen, bruised baby bump.  The birth scene was handled better than I thought it would be– I had wondered previously how the uterus-chewing part would actually be filmed– but was chillingly bloody, and most disturbing of all was Bella’s lifeless, dead stare at the end of it all until her body remade itself through Edward’s venom into the form of the newest Cullen vampire, revealed in her opening of her new, red eyes before the credits start rolling.  (Stick around through the credits– there is an additional scene involving some of the Volturi).

All in all, I was pleased with the way the film handled some plot elements that I felt would be difficult to convey onscreen.  Jacob’s Imprinting with baby Renesmee was particularly well-done– it could have been quite squicky, given that she’s a kid and all, but in showing the woman she would eventually become as seen through her bond with Jacob this was skillfully averted.  Also, the film ended in a natural way instead of feeling cut-off in the middle, as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 felt.  Not bashing on Harry and pals, since the whole one-book-two-movies device was handled pretty decently in that franchise as well, but the book it was based on was fairly action-packed and the ending was going to be a cliffhanger no matter what.  Breaking Dawn, on the other hand, had a lull in the proceedings which made for an excellent midpoint at which to wrap things up for the first film.  So my overall take on the movie as a whole?  Solid, and while not the best entry in the series (Eclipse holds that distinction for me), a worthy one all the same, which has me looking forward to the final film with a sense of satisfaction in the body of work thus far.  I’m just bummed I have to wait another entire year for it.  The SeriouslyFluffy Final Grade: B+

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