Director: Bill Condon
Stars: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
Plot: As Bella and Edward begin their new life together, the birth of their daughter Renesmee is only the start of a dangerous path towards the final battle.
Reviewing films that have been adapted from a famous series of novels such as Twilight is a tricky business. The two main audiences are firstly of course, fans of the books who demand a faithful adaptation, but also cinema-goers who have perhaps no interest in reading the text beforehand, but wish to judge the films as they see them. To balance the two together is virtually impossible because there will always be unsatisfied viewers no matter what happens, for a whole a range of reasons. It is therefore best to consider Breaking Dawn here in the context of a film that should entertain and hold your attention, just like any other.
The story begins as preparations for Bella (Stewart) and Edward’s (Pattinson) wedding are in full swing. Invitations have been sent out – one of these lands on the doormat of Jacob’s (Lautner), who is not a happy werewolf. Meanwhile, as the guests, ranging from those alive, the undead and to the hairy begin to arrive, Edward tells Bella about his blood-thirsty past – this prompts Bella to ponder about what marrying a vampire will mean in the future (and have an odd dream), but she’s in lurve, so goes ahead anyway. The wedding is a success despite the obvious reservations between vampire and werewolf. This tension culminates in the appearance of Jacob who doesn’t like the idea of the newlyweds ‘enjoying’ their wedding night a little too much, as he fears Edward will inadvertently kill Bella.
Nonetheless, the couple jet off to Brazil, to stay on Isle Esme, just off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. Whilst on their honeymoon, Edward impregnates Bella much to the horror of their housekeeper who views vampires as demons. Upon returning home, the Cullens become concerned for Bella’s welfare as the foetus grows incredibly quickly and appears to be draining the life from its mother, slowly crushing her from the inside. On hearing the news about the impending arrival of the vampiric bundle of joy, the local werewolves feel threatened and plan to kill Bella and the baby, but Jacob protests and has to decide whether to be loyal to his own kind or try to protect them. As the birth draws near, the vampires and werewolves are involved in a deadly stand-off that will have repercussions far beyond the forests surrounding the small Washington town of Forks.
Breaking Dawn contains two very major flaws. The first is the screenplay which is insipid, at times corny, but above all apparently lifted from a Sunday afternoon Danielle Steele TV movie. Staying faithful to Stephanie Meyer’s novel is all well and good, but when the plot of the said book is so lightweight, it really could do with more bite (sorry) to make it more interesting. Do we care for Bella, Edward and Jacob? This is the question that should’ve been ringing in Meyer’s and indeed screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg’s ears. Instead, all we get is a plot that repeatedly goes back and forth between the two camps, vampire and werewolf, until weariness sets in.
The second flaw of the film is the middle. You could quite easily go for a stroll after 20 minutes and come back around half an hour from the end and not have missed a great deal. As with the previous Twilight films, there is plenty of pouting, close-ups and the standard ripping-off of shirts to satisfy the female fans. Especially when it comes to the honeymoon and it is down to Stewart and Pattinson to carry the film for well over 30 minutes, there is little to keep anyone interested with even the actors themselves looking bored at times.
On the positive side, the film’s darker tone is an improvement on the fluffy who-will-she-choose shenanigans of Eclipse. The Rosemary’s Baby-style climax is actually not bad at all and we finally get some raw emotion from our protagonists instead of the usual teenage angst done by twenty-somethings which doesn’t really work at all.
Breaking Dawn is by no means terrible. Instead it is forgettable and mostly dull, but thankfully without an overlong running time. To denounce a film such as this would be an easy cop-out. We know what to expect (not much) and the film delivers it. The plot commendably stays very close to the novel thus avoiding alienating those who have both read the books and seen the films. If we do have something to be thankful for, it is that the superb Michael Sheen returns as Aro in Part 2 – as revealed in a random mid-credits scene at the end.
It’s highly unlikely that the final instalment of the Twilight franchise will be any better, considering it’s the same director and screenwriter, but there’s a whole year for the producers to make sure it’s not quite as anaemic.