The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 Review
Over-drawn soap opera with bad direction and screenplay.
‘Twilight’ tries to take a page out of the ‘Harry Potter’ playbook and splits its final novel into two separate movies, but forgets that the material needs to justify the two movies. ‘Breaking Dawn – Part 1’ is a sloppily directed, overlong and sometimes hilarious (unintentionally) film that’s built only for die-hard fans. For everyone else, this would have been the worst installment of the franchise if not for the existence of ‘New Moon’.
Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) finally decide to get married and it’s a lavish affair with everyone attending but Jacob (Taylor Lautner) isn’t happy about it. After it, they decide to go to Rio for their honeymoon on a secluded island and soon Bella realizes that she’s surprisingly pregnant. But the child is accelerating in growth and wouldn’t be entirely human. Edward and Jacob come together to overturn Bella’s ailing health as the birth comes closer but realise that a larger threat lies with the coming of the wolves’ mutiny.
The first ‘Twilight’ wasn’t half bad and actually ended up being decent. But ‘New Moon’ was an extremely depressing film and was nothing short of awfulness. ‘Eclipse’ was actually a rebound for the series largely because of the quality action scenes it provided amidst the sloppy drawn-out romance. But what we have here is a stretched out, boring and very oddly directed film that falls flat aside from a few moments. In an attempt to split the film for financial reasons, the studio forgot that the book being adapted is notoriously known as the worst written book of the series and doesn’t have nearly enough dramatic heft to carry two full length films. As a result, we get a film whose only purpose is to reach to a point after which the ‘real’ movie can begin. Unfortunately, the real movie comes out next year and the movie we get is padded filler that fails to engage.
To start off with, the problem most apparent here is the director in question. Though Bill Condon is an Oscar-nominated director known for ‘Dreamgirls’, he is extremely off with this material and completely washes out. The film is tonally all over the place and his attempts to be faithful to the films that came before it are at odds with the direction choices he makes. There are some great visual flourishes here and there but even the visuals are bland for the most part. It doesn’t feel like a director with that calibre has directed the film and it could have easily been done by anyone else. But the worst part is that Condon never really feels attached to the material enough to do something unique with it. Plus, the shots here are visually random at times. There are way too many greenscreen shots which completely take you out of the film and are awkwardly placed in the film to boot. Sometimes, the editing is choppy and scenes don’t flow together as a movie but instead feel like a soap opera.
And that’s a big problem with this instalment – it feels like a soap opera more than a movie. There are long drawn-out dialogue sequences here filled with bad writing and serve no purpose to the story at hand. They’re about meaningless flashbacks and romantic exchanges that seem to be there for the sole purpose of pleasing fans of the book. They may have worked in prose form (which I doubt still), but scenes of that sort in cinematic form just end up killing any sense of pacing that the film has and adds to its overlong runtime. With the plot that the movie has, it shouldn’t have been a film longer than 90 minutes but it goes about two hours here. It’s plain bad writing to blame for this, and coupled with the awkward direction gives us the most unintentionally hilarious scene of the year. The scene in particular involves the wolf pack assembled together in wolf form arguing and fighting about whether they should make an attack or not. Since all you see are CGI wolves, there are actual voiceovers for each of the characters with exaggerated movements of the face to tell the audience who is speaking. Watching this entire fight unfold is bafflingly awful and is akin to watching a very bad talking dog kids movie. Only difference is that here it’s being dead serious at a pivotal point in the film. It’s scenes like these that drag the movie from mediocrity to even further down the barrel.
As far as acting goes, none of the actors can be faulted for thanks to the material they have to work with. Robert Pattinson impresses in everything where he’s not playing the extremely depressing Edward and that’s exactly the case here as well. His character doesn’t give him much room to emote and its one-dimensional nature ends up leading to a bland performance. The same can be said for Kristen Stewart as Bella who does get more meaty scenes in this film than the previous instalments, but for the most part doesn’t require any effort from her side besides fidgeting and holding a straight face. Taylor Lautner performs better here than he did in his wretched action film ‘Abduction’ but it’s only because his character is a break from everyone else’s depression. Other actors never seem to elevate over what is barely required with the particular notice being to Jackson Rathborne who literally has just one smug smile on his face throughout the film. Talented names like Maggie Grace and Michael Sheen have been touted a lot in publicity but they have fleeting thirty second cameos in the film at best, which is truly a waste.
‘Breaking Dawn’ is simply a failed instalment in the franchise that has almost nothing to offer to the average movie-goer unless you’re looking for an over-drawn soap opera with bad direction and screenplay. There’s said to be a big war at the end of the second film which might promise something better, but at this point it’s better to wait for this series to get over with than hold out any hope.