It has been about a year and a half since The Twilight Saga: Eclipse was in theatres. It was a long time to wait for the fourth movie when The Twilight Saga: New Moon and Eclipse were only about six months apart in release. The anticipation for the next film had died down, only to be revived immediately when the first and second trailers for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 arrived. I managed to get just a little giddy sitting in the movie theatre, just minutes from the start of the film. Then the film began and the whole experience of the books and the films came rushing back to me.
In The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) finally get married and get to consummate their relationship during a honeymoon on Isle Esme. While still there, Bella realizes that she is “late” and has become pregnant, even though no one knew that this could be possible. What grows inside her is a human/vampire hybrid that will basically kill Bella before it becomes full-term. On the outskirts of this story is Jacob (Taylor Lautner) who continues to pine for Bella even though she is married. He does not want her to become a vampire. With the realization of the fetus that is growing inside her, Jacob realizes that he may have to face Bella’s death. Jacob’s wolf pack is not pleased with the thing growing inside Bella either. They want to kill Bella and the fetus. The pack leader, Sam (Chaske Spencer) commands the pack to destroy the Cullens, Bella, and the fetus for breaking the long-standing treaty between the Cullens and the Quileute tribe.
The film begins with the delivery of wedding invitations. This is the same sequence seen in the first trailer. It then jumps quickly into wedding preparations and the wedding itself. Prior to the wedding, Edward confesses to Bella that he went through a rebellious stage and decided to feed on humans. He killed bad people just like Showtime’s Dexter. This was done in a flashback that I was not expecting, but it was well done and Edward is seen with red eyes. The wedding and honeymoon are what every Twihard pretty much expects. It is all done well.
The first half of the film is pretty light and happy considering the circumstances. I appreciated the purposeful humor that is in the film. The speeches given during the wedding reception are hilarious. Anna Kendrick as Jessica once again steals the show with her comments on the wedding and the reception. Billy Burke as Charlie Swan with the “stache” also provides quite a few laughs.
There is a foreshadowing moment at the reception when vampire Irina (Maggie Grace) from the Denali clan spots one of the members of the wolf pack. Her boyfriend, Laurent (Edi Gathegi) was killed by the wolves in New Moon when he tried to kill Bella. She becomes irate, and this will come into play in the Breaking Dawn – Part 2.
The honeymoon is full of funny moments as Bella prepares for her first night with Edward. The end result of the first night is pretty comical and readers of the novel will appreciate that feathers were left in that scene. The rest of the honeymoon is filled with Edward trying to distract Bella from having a second go at “it” and Bella trying her hardest to provoke him.
The mood of the film immediately changes as soon as Bella realizes that she is pregnant. It becomes dark and foreboding. Bella herself becomes sickly as the fetus is not compatible with her body.
Jacob then becomes a focus of the film as he breaks away from his pack to protect Bella, and fellow pack members Leah (Julia Jones) and Seth (Booboo Stewart) follow him. His main focus is to protect Bella from the remaining wolf pack members.
I do not want to spoil much more of what happens. If you have read the novel, then you already know, but I do not want to spoil the execution of the critical scenes.
The film was more violent than I expected. Not necessarily in a “fight” sense, but the amount of blood and gore used. I also was not expecting certain sound effects towards the end that really brought home what was happening to Bella’s body. The birth scene is done very well, way better than I expected from a PG-13 film. I was worried how it could translate to film considering the restrictions of the rating, but I think it is done with about as much violence and blood as they could get away with.
There were a couple of scenes that stood out for me. Director Bill Condon did an amazing job showing the telepathy between the wolf pack when they are in the wolf phase. It really blew me away that he was able to accomplish that. I honestly had chills watching it. There is also a couple of instances toward the end of the film where Condon takes you inside Bella’s body to see what is happening to her at the end. It was a unique way to approach the situation, and it really surprised me how well it worked.
The score is by Carter Burwell who also did the score for the original Twilight. I appreciated the subtle reminders of the first film that came out through the music. At the beginning of the film, the score is almost whimsical, but changes dramatically after the events become darker.
The actors have all improved in regard to their acting abilities and delivery of lines as these films have progressed. There are still a few laughable moments, but this is by far the best work any of the actors have done in the series thus far. The wig department has improved as well, though Jackson Rathbone (Jasper) admitted that he did not wear a wig in the Breaking Dawn films.
As this is the first part of a two part film, the very last scene and the very last few seconds are the perfect place to stop. It leaves you hanging, but you at least get a taste of what is to come.
While I could delve into more detail on The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, I think many reviewers will be talking about the ludicrousness of what happens in the film. If you have read the books, the craziness is to be expected and you will understand the reasoning for it more than those who have not read the books. Not everything is perfect or how I imagined it to be in my head, but Bill Condon did an excellent job of taking the first half of Breaking Dawn and translating it to the screen. It is a crazy, weird story compared to the other three films, but it is well done. I am once again excited to be in the world of Twilight. Bravo, Bill Condon, for taking material that many thought would be impossible to translate and making it into a great film.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is in theatres November 16, 2012.
P.S. Stay after the credits for a scene with the Volturi.
I give The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 4.5 “The Pill” out of 5.