(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
US: Feb 2008
Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part I
Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Sarah Clarke, Nikki Reed, Gil Birmingham, Peter Facinelli, Jackson Rathbone, Ashley Greene, Elizabeth Reaser, Kellan Lutz
US DVD: 12 Feb 2012
“Twi-hards” out there must be licking their chops, now that they’ve no doubt seen director Bill Condon’s big screen transformation of Stephanie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn. The film, which is based on the last book in the blockbuster Twilight Series is eye candy for moviegoers and visual and emotional fireworks for Twilight fans.
While the movie may be a bit confusing to the person who wants to casually drop into the theater to see what the Twilight hype is all about, it’s still a gratifying escape from reality. Those who are familiar with the books will be pleased with Condon’s attention to detail. All the major plot points have been covered, and covered well. Bruce Diones of The New Yorker calls it “the best in the series so far… languorous, romantic, moody, and, in the end, horrifying.” (“Bruce Diones – The Film File: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I”, 2011).
In Breaking Dawn Part I, the romantic tension between the girl from Forks, Washington; the sparkly vampire; and the Native American werewolf reaches an all-time high. Edward (the sparkly vampire) and Bella (the girl from Forks) tie the knot, and then find themselves faced with a number of obstacles including Jacob’s (the Native American werewolf) jealousy and Bella’s unexpected pregnancy, which is forecasted to kill her.
Our sparkling Edward isn’t the only one who wants to initially get rid of the child that is set to bring down his wife. The werewolves of the Quileute tribe are also bloodthirsty, as this pregnancy is a violation of a pact made between the vampires and werewolves way back when. Apparently no one knew a vampire could knock up a human being.
Summit Entertainment decided wisely to break the last book into two movies. There was enough material in the book for three films, let alone two. So in this installment we get the wedding, the long-awaited consummation of Edward and Bella’s love (Twilight fans will know what I’m referring to here. Think feathers), the pregnancy, and yes, the gory birth of Bella and Edward’s love child. It looks like we will have to wait until 2012 to see Bella as a functioning vampire.
Condon looks at the supernatural drama of the book with contemplation and an artistic eye. For example, he moved the indoor wedding of the book outdoors, and the result is a feast for the eyes. The dark wooded area where the vows take place is filled with wan candlelight and white flowers dripping from tree branches. Condon gives the humor sprinkled throughout the book a chance to shine in the film, beginning with the wedding when the newlyweds’ family and friends stumble over awkward and humorous wedding speeches including one by Bella’s father, Charlie who says, “…Edward will be a good husband. I know this because… because I’m a cop, I know things. Like how to hunt somebody to the ends of the earth.”
Kristen Stewart shines as Bella. Her pre-marital jitters are palpable at the start of the film as she walks down the aisle toward her vampire husband-to-be, while Charlie by her side manages to hold her up. But then her face changes during the wedding march, once she gets a good look at her dashing vampire waiting for her at the alter. Adoration replaces fear in her big brown peepers, and the change is entirely believable. Later, when she portrays a pregnant, dying Bella, Stewart’s haunted eyes and resigned expressions match her ashen, bony visage. She looks aged and sick and exudes the wisdom of an old woman.
Robert Pattinson is, once again, the only person capable of playing Edward, nervously pacing and handsomely fussing over Bella. Since his sick wife refuses to give up the child that’s killing her, Edward gets angry at Bella for the first time. His unexpected outbursts are a gratifying change from his usual lovelorn and pensive expressions. Taylor Lautner also proves again that he is the only one to play Jacob. He’s definitely more than “the chest” that he’s been coined. He’s grown up on screen and shines as the contemplative werewolf who’s torn between his love for Bella and the decree of the pack.
No Twilight series review would be complete without mentioning Billy Burke. Once again, he gives a memorable performance as Charlie, encapsulating the grouchy father concerned that his 18-year-old daughter is getting married. To a vampire, no less.
The romance of the book is almost tangible on screen. Edward and Bella’s honeymoon location in Brazil is a breathtaking dream land, and their “first time” between the sheets is steamy, yet tasteful. Once Bella discovers she’s pregnant, the tension mounts and the suspense kicks in. Queue up the werewolves waiting for the baby they’ve promised to destroy as they surround the stunning glass house where the vampires live.
Inside, Bella withers with hallowed out eyes and gaunt cheeks until the vampires realize that what the baby wants is just a little Type O Negative. Once the baby is ready, the birthing scene is a blood fest that would make any vampire salivate and satisfy most slasher fans. At the same time, the last 15 minutes of the film are chilling and simultaneously mesmerizing—particularly the very last second.