Title: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1
That's Quite A Mouthful If you're waiting for me to make a cheap vampire joke, it's not gonna happen.
Not Even How Much The Twilight Movies...Suck? I'm done shouting at the rain about these movies, honestly. I know my opinion means zilch next to a juggernaut like this, and my review is the critical equivalent of sitting in the high branches of a baobab tree flinging nuts at a crazed elephant. And I'm okay with that.
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: One-and-a-half Teen Wolves out of five.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Human marries vampire, gives messy birth to hybrid offspring, which pleases annoyed werewolf.
Tagline: "Forever is only the beginning."
Better Tagline: "Forever is only the first two acts."
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: It's finally the big day for the human Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and Edward the Friendly Vampire (Robert Pattinson), and everyone in the town of Forks, WA has turned up for the affair. Even werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner). At least, temporarily. The happy couple honeymoon off the coast of Rio, until Bella unexpectedly gets pregnant. The surprise event is complicated by the werewolves, who think this constitutes a violation of their treaty. They fight. Bella dies/un-dies. The end. Honestly, you can sneak into the movie an hour and a half in and not miss anything.
"Critical" Analysis: Remember the target audience.
It says something when two unrelated people essentially tell me the same thing. While at the promo screening for Breaking Dawn - Part 1 earlier this week, my companion reminded me as I audibly rolled my eyes during the movie's interminable first two-thirds to remember the books were by and large written for young females, who apparently are fine with endless stretches of locked gazes, tortured expressions and horrible pop music. Then, after getting home, another friend commented on a related Facebook update that sending me to review the Twilight movies was like sending a vegan to review a BBQ restaurant.
And maybe so. As handy as the skill might have been in high school, I am unable to read the minds of teenage girls. However, deliberately slanting your film towards a specific demographic doesn't excuse things like lousy pacing, horrible dialogue or bad acting. Whatever my personal views on the "vampire romance" genre (or the "rom-nom," as I like to call it), Breaking Dawn - Part 1 just isn't good.
At least, the first 90-95 minutes aren't. Bella prepares for her imminent wedding to Edward and subsequent turning, plagued by the odd nightmare about the Volturi slaughtering everyone (which would just ruin the reception) for what seems like an eternity. The wedding is a brief, dull affair, punctuated by Jacob's predictable whining, while the honeymoon, on a private Cullen-owned island off the coast of Brazil, is almost laughable. Edward, plagued with guilt over his rough deflowering of Bella, practically has to be impelled to have sex with her again.
And maybe he had the right idea. Bella gets pregnant with what is alternately referred to as a "monster" or "an abomination." Things actually pick up after the couple returns to Forks and the vamps and werewolves start squaring off. Bella, increasingly weakened by the demonspawn (oops, forgot one) rapidly growing inside her, resorts to drinking blood to keep her strength up.
I wonder if any human mothers would take that trade for a mere month of pregnancy.
So who knows? Maybe Part 2 will be awesome, all Bella getting the blood fever and big three-way Cullen/werewolf/Volturi battles royale. It would certainly keep the principals from having to carry the film with their "acting." To be fair, Stewart shows more life here than in previous installments (which still ain't saying much), while the Cullens' primary method of emoting appears to be widening their eyes (rigor mortis having apparently frozen the muscles used for facial expression).
And then there's Taylor Lautner. Wow. I'd compare his performance to a block of wood, but that'd be an insult to the lumber industry. New franchise director Bill Condon does what we can with what he's got -- I was also reminded at the screening that what the actors were saying was actual dialogue from the books, which was not meant as a compliment to the script -- but he can't do anything with Squinty McPecs.
But you probably suspected as much. What's more, you don't care. If you're already in for the long haul, nothing I or anyone else says will keep you from helping to give this a $150 million opening weekend. Have a good time. Bring caffeine.
Twilight: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 is in theaters today. Please, don't let me stop you.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.