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"THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN - PART 1"
(2011) (Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson) (PG-13)

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QUICK TAKE:
Drama/Horror: A male vampire and a human female wed and conceive a child that threatens the mother's health and could lead to war with a local pack of werewolves.
PLOT:
Vampire Edward Cullen (ROBERT PATTINSON) and human teenager Bella Swan (KRISTEN STEWART) are finally about to get married. The film opens with all of their family and friends receiving invitations to the pending nuptials. Edward's vampire family of husband-and-wife Carlisle and Esme (PETER FACINELLI and ELIZABETH REASER) and siblings Alice, Emmett, Jasper, and Rosalie (ASHLEY GREENE, KELLAN LUTZ, JACKSON RATHBONE, and NIKKI REED) are supportive. Bella's mother, Renee (SARAH CLARKE), is elated. Her father, Charlie (BILLY BURKE), is unsure but agrees to walk her down the aisle. Heartbroken is Jacob (TAYLOR LAUTNER), who becomes distraught when he learns that the two plan to have extremely risky sex on their honeymoon before Edward transforms Bella into a vampire.

The honeymoon is a beautiful one, on a private island off the coast of Brazil. Edward and Bella's lovemaking is wonderful. But Edward shuts down when he sees that he has bruised Bella badly during intercourse. Before long, he is even more distraught to learn that Bella is pregnant with his child. The fetus develops at a rapid rate and puts Bella's life at risk. She vows to carry the baby to full term even if it's at the cost of her own life.

Meanwhile, Jacob's werewolf tribe under the leadership of alpha male Sam (CHASKE SPENCER) learns of the vampire-human hybrid and fears it will be a scourge on all of humanity. The tribe vows to kill the baby once it's born, but Jacob goes against them and recruits fellow wolves Seth (BOOBOO STEWART) and Sue (ALEX RICE). A bloody delivery is followed by a tense standoff between bloodsuckers and wolves.

OUR TAKE: 3.5 out of 10
I am SO glad these silly "Twilight" movies are coming to an end! I've never really gotten them. I've never fully understood their phenomenal appeal. I don't like feeling out of step with a large cross-section of moviegoers. I don't like hearing things like: "Oh, you're just a critic. These films aren't made for you." I guess, by this point, it's safe to say...no, they're not! Not a single one of these flicks have been great films or even good ones!

The thing is...I get the appeal of the "Harry Potter" franchise. That was a well-done series of films. The original "Star Wars" trilogy? It's easy to see why that captivated the world and still does today. "The Lord of the Rings" movies? Instant classics! The production values on all of those franchises were high. They were innovative. They were based on age-old legends. And they were executed beautifully on screen by cinema craftspeople working at their absolute highest level. Heck, I even get why big Hollywood cheese like the "Transformers" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies are so big! People love the Big Show. They love flair and spectacle. Most of all, they love feeling like they got bang for their buck.

Apologies to Team Edward and Team Jacob, but these movies are small, plodding, horrendously directed and executed stories. I firmly believe that some mega-successful movies stand the test of time and others become a sign of their times - flicks the populace looks back on, smacks their collective heads, and says, "Oh, how silly we were!" I have to believe that the "Twilight" movie franchise will be such films. Young moviegoers, this will be the series of movies you'll force your children to watch one day, and they'll turn to you at some point in the first film or possibly the second and say, "Uh, can we PLEASE watch something else?!"

At least we're nearing the end with "Breaking Dawn - Pt. 1." Is it any better than the others? No! I'll give it some due. It's the most intense of the big-screen "Twilights" so far. And it's also the strangest, revolving around a mutant pregnancy. But, wow, there is barely any story here. The first half-hour is all about Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella's (Kristen Stewart) wedding in which literally nothing interesting happens (her dress is gorgeous, though). The second half-hour has the two on their honeymoon, making out, having sex repeatedly, and playing chess (!) on a remote island off the coast of Brazil. And the rest of the film is the newlyweds dealing with her painful pregnancy and the wolves literally at the door who want to kill the hybrid child once born.

This is a one-hour story at best stretched out over two hours and made almost unbearable by seemingly endless shots of Bella looking just miserable ALL OF THE TIME! I know it's sacrilege, but the greatest weakness of this franchise is the casting of Stewart (a fine actress, by the way) in the lead role. She's moped through these pictures to the point where it's just incredibly boring to watch her. NOTHING makes her happy. She mopes while getting her makeup and wedding gown. She mopes walking down the aisle with her father. She mopes brushing her teeth on her honeymoon. And when she is pregnant with child and the fetus starts draining her or all nutrition...aw, man!

Everyone else in the film appears either deadly solemn or curiously loopy, like they're all having an exceeding difficult time adjusting to their pharmaceuticals. I'm not even going to get into how creepy it is that a vampire like Edward who is supposed to be over 100 years old has madly pursued a teenager, proclaiming her the love of his life. I'm not going to rag on the film for waiting, oh, five seconds before getting Taylor Lautner shirtless in this film. It's just begging for the Wayans or the Zuckers to skewer it in some big-screen parody. Heck, it practically plays like parody! And with all the money these flicks make at the global box office, you'd think they'd pump some cash back into the films and give us some decent CGI werewolves or some grander location shots.

Do I have anything good to say? Well, at least it wasn't in 3-D. I respect the producers for not milking that much more money out of their faithful. And I will say that the "Twilight" fans police their own. At my recent preview screening, a couple of people started chatting during the early part of the flick and about 20 audience members scream-shushed them into submission. You don't get that at Marvel Comics movies or other big franchises. The diehards applauded at the end. So, take that for what it's worth. What is "Breaking Dawn - Pt. 1" worth to me? About a 3.5 out of 10. (T. Durgin)




Reviewed November 16, 2011 / Posted November 18, 2011


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