Shut up. My reviews of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi are incoming. I’d finished my Empire one and booted it up to find I’d lost about half of it. Instead of trying vainly to recreate my genius, I thought I’d better type down my thoughts on the newest Twilight and then fill in my Empire review with all-new genius.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011)
I would say that I’ve been quite fair to the Twilight films. Critics have been sharpening their claws since the first one came out and savaging it gives them a big ol’ smug grin on their faces and a small ol’ bulge in their corduroy trousers. That’s not to say the films haven’t been deserving of a critical mauling, I just don’t like the notion that someone is actually proud of coming up with shit puns like “Breaking Yawn”.
“No measure of time with you will be long enough. But we’ll start with forever.”
Breaking Dawn starts with what most Twihards have been waiting for- the long-hyped marriage of Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson). After the wedding and inevitable wedding night, Bella discovers she’s pregnant. Trouble is, no-one knows what with as a human/vampire hybrid has not been encountered before. Things get worse when the unborn whatever starts physically hurting Bella and pretty soon, becoming a real threat on her life. Also Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) is in this film. Breaking Dawn‘s story is actually batshit insane, but at least it does more than the treading water that Eclipse did. All three leads are the best they’ve ever been, but still fall short of, y’know, acting. The dialogue is better too, but they are still guffaws to be had at some of the straight-faced mentalism on display. This is encapsulated when Bella, who has been walking around her own wedding barely cracking a smile, says to Edward: “Why can’t you see how perfectly happy I am?”. Cue big giggles from the audience.
It’s odd then, that a film series known for awful dialogue, unintentional campness, wooden performances and enthusiasm for naked male torsos is tackling such a prickly issue such as abortion. There are entire sites dedicated to author Stephenie Meyer’s hidden Mormon agenda and the general lack of feminism in the books and films, but personally Breaking Dawn has been the only film that I feel was trying to make a serious point. It doesn’t succeed and as a result, shows how fucking shallow the films are, but I felt this film was actively trying to well, brainwash, for lack of a better word, its captive teen female audience. It left me with a rather nasty taste in my mouth. I don’t think I’m reading too much into this either. The film ain’t subtle at the best of times. Also, for a film supposedly all about romance, I’ve never encountered something so loveless. The Bella/Edward love story has never convinced, but by Christ is this frigid. Our power couple finally consummate their “love”, but it’s not the passionate roll in the hay that has been built up for three films. We don’t see anything. Just lots of kissing. I wasn’t expecting full penetrative vampire sex in a 12A, but considering what they got away with later in the film, it is surprising. Instead we cut to a scene that wouldn’t look out of place in an Austin Powers film- their four poster bed destroyed and feathers fluttering down. Vamp boy got some skills, apparently. However, after seeing some bruises on Bella, Edward doesn’t want to touch his new bride again and the couple instead have sweaty, passionate games of chess instead. It’s all very disquieting. Also explain to me how a guy with no blood can get it up.
But fear not, those unintentional guffaws are still present. Not a minute in we have Jacob receiving his wedding invitation, ripping off his shirt and flouncing off into the forest. There’s also what will soon be referred to as the “talking wolves” scene which is downright terrible. The special effects are still shite, with the wolves still crappily done and Edward’s whooshing about not being any more convincing that the low-fi effects in the first film. These films are massive now and the budget for this one was $110 million. Why the fuck can’t they afford decent effects? Sure, special effects do not a good film make, but when the characters, story and dialogue makes you want to shit yourself in protest, the effects seem all the more important. Some of this is damn embarrassing.
Breaking Dawn does manage to do a couple of things right. These are spoilers for anyone silly enough to ignore my warnings, so just skip to the end if you don’t want to find out what happens. The pregnancy is well handled. It’s creepy as shit watching Bella get more and more emaciated and her belly gets gradually more swollen and bruised. The birth scene is surprisingly disturbing too, especially for a “tween” film. As usual I thought Jacob was the only likeable character and my dislike for Bella grows with each film as she treats him so poorly. The “imprint” scene is nice though. The film is well shot too, with some really nice cinematography. However, these fleeting positives don’t make up for the shitty film. It’s like giving your dead grandmother a makeover. You can slap as much lipstick and blusher as you like on the poor cow, it’s never going to disguise the rotten core.
“It’s crushing you, from the inside out.”
I agree with bequiffed critic Mark Kermode, who stated that critics in general are softer on movies (like the Star Wars films) embraced by fanboys than they are with movies embraced by fangirls. Despite being a massive fanboy, I’m not afraid to like the Twilight films. I enjoyed New Moon and wouldn’t have to be held at gunpoint to see it again. I can’t shake the feeling that the films have stopped trying. They pointlessly split the last book into two films because Summit Entertainment decided they liked money a hell of a lot more than brevity. It’s been an interesting experiment, but thank God it’s almost over.