Breaking Dawn Part 1 Review

poster from the Summit Entertainment film Breaking Dawn Part 1

I am no fan of the Twilight series. I did, however, rather like the last film, Eclipse, so I decided to give Breaking Dawn Part 1 (or if you want to be proper about it The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1) a fair chance. I wouldn’t have chosen to give it a fair chance on the weekend of my birthday, but I guess we all have to suck it up and make sacrifices at some point in the name of increased website traffic. Now, the plot blurb for Breaking Dawn Part 1 is rather exciting:

A human girl marries a vampire and quickly finds herself pregnant with fast-growing hybrid that is slowly leeching the life out of her, making her and her “abomination” a target for the local werewolf pack.

A vampire-human hybrid monster eating it’s mother from the inside out like a baby Ebola virus? Enormous, vicious wolves circling in for the kill? This is the stuff of nightmares. They could not possibly make a boring movie out of a setup like that. If you think this, you are wrong. Despite the exciting setup, Breaking Dawn Part 1 manages to be both boring and stupid. Twilight fans are now invited to send me angry emails that have no chance of changing my mind.

The problem, of course, lies in the source material. Breaking Dawn Part 1 is based on the first half of the last book in Stephenie Meyer’s series, the whole of which suffered from an overreliance on sappy dialogue and an almost complete lack of conflict and action. Obviously either David Slade was a genius or Eclipse was a total fluke, because Bill Condon, the new director, fails utterly to make Breaking Dawn Part 1 anything other than awful. I spent so much time rolling my eyes during the screening that I was afraid they’d get stuck in the back of my head.

Bella and Alice try on shoes from the Summit Entertainment film Breaking Dawn Part 1

Oh, but I cannot possibly wear shoes to my wedding! *Simper simper demure demure*

The beginning of the movie is dripping with sap. Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) are getting ready for their perfectly perfect teenage wedding. They spend most of their time draping themselves over each other and saying things like “I’ve been waiting a century to marry you,” and staring deeply (and unfortunately blankly) into each other’s eyes while weepy violin music wails in the background, in an obvious attempt to flog the audience into a response. I had a response all right.

Bella and Edward from the Summit Entertainment film Breaking Dawn Part 1

EDWARD: “No measure of time will be long enough, but let’s start with forever.”
ME: *puke*

The only thing that made this first half hour or so even remotely tolerable was Bella’s father, Charlie (Billy Burke), and his dry comments. “I know I’m hot,” he says when he shows up in a tux. And his wedding speech, which consists largely of thinly veiled threats to hunt Edward down with his mad cop skillz if anything happens to his daughter, is nothing short of hilarious.

Bella and Charlie at the wedding from the Summit Entertainment film Breaking Dawn Part 1

CHARLIE: “As a cop, I know things. Like how to hunt someone. To the end of the Earth.”

Unfortunately, after the first half hour, Bella and Edward leave for a remote island in South America for their honeymoon, and funny dad drops off the map. The state of their bed after they have sex got a laugh, but because Edward is such a wishy washy character and can’t stand the fact that he gave his beloved wife a bruise…

Edward inspects Bellas bruises from the Summit Entertainment film Breaking Dawn Part 1

I’ve been hurt worse after being hit by sofa cushions.

… they spend the rest of their honeymoon playing chess, and I spend the rest of the movie wanting to slap the douchey smirk off Edward’s stupid face. It’s sunny out all the time, but thankfully they forgot to make him sparkle.

Edward and Bella play chess on their honeymoon from the Summit Entertainment film Breaking Dawn Part 1

EDWARD: Your move.
BELLA: I want a divorce.

This is of course, tremendously boring (and awkward, because Bella keeps throwing herself at him, only to be continually rejected). So it’s with relief that Bella finally discovers she’s pregnant… after having sex with Edward once about three days ago. So the baby (or whatever it is) is growing like mad and within two weeks of their return home, she looks like a zombie with a beach ball under her shirt because she can’t eat anything and the baby is draining the life out of her.

Bella is pregnant from the Summit Entertainment film Breaking Dawn Part 1

Let that be a lesson to you, kids. Never have sex, even after
you’re married, or your uterus will be eaten by a monster.

Everyone wants to get rid of this kid, especially the Native werewolves out on the reservation, but Bella enlists the aid of Rosalie (Nikki Reed) to keep everyone away from the destructo-fetus. Bella’s friend and almost sort of one time boyfriend who’s still in love with her, Jacob (Taylor Lautner), actually ends up breaking ties with his pack over the issue, forming a new pack with the marginalized members of the old one and leading them in defending Bella from the other wolves.

Seth, Leah, and Jacob form a new pack from the Summit Entertainment film Breaking Dawn Part 1

Which mostly consists of standing around in the woods and glaring at each other.

They barely do anything with the monster baby plot, so the wolf stuff ends up being the most interesting thing about the movie, even if the wolves look super fake. They’re clearly full CGI, unlike the real trained wolves they used in the other movies. I also found that I liked Jake’s new pack members a lot. I hated Leah (Julia Jones) in the book (she was a bitch) but I like her here because we get to understand why her life sucks, and her little brother Seth (Booboo Stewart) is just adorable.

Seth and Leah from the Summit Entertainment film Breaking Dawn Part 1

And no, I’m not kidding. Someone really named their kid Booboo. I wonder if he has a brother called Yogi.

And the stupid naming continues with Bella’s baby, who eventually is born and turns out not to be a monster (boring!) but does get saddled with the improbably awful name Renesmee, which is the result of combining Renee, Esmee, and natural teenage stupidity. There’s a token, fake looking fight over the baby, which wasn’t in the book because Meyer doesn’t write action, which is then brought to a halt by a convenient plot device that solves everyone’s relationship problems.

Jacob and the vampires defend Bella from the Summit Entertainment film Breaking Dawn Part 1

So again, the fight is mostly just posturing.

They stop the movie right when Bella becomes a vampire (no it’s not a freaking spoiler, the book has been out for four years!), which, in my opinion, is when she stops being a “paste your face here” cardboard cutout and starts being interesting.

So in short, Breaking Dawn Part 1 suffers from the same boring-half/exciting-half syndrome that crippled the Deathly Hallows movies. The only difference here is that there’s no guarantee the second half of Breaking Dawn won’t be boring too, because in the book the entire second half is a lead up to a fight that never happens. If they actually have the fight in the movie, it could be pretty cool. If they don’t, I will burn down the studio.

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