Review of Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part I

By Charlotte Rosenfield '15, Design Editor

When Taylor Lautner’s shirt is off within the first 10 seconds of the film, you know you’re in for another successful installment of the cinematic sensation that is the Twilight series. In all seriousness, director Bill Condon has created yet another movie phenomenon. Surprisingly, this one manages to live up to all the hype.

I may stand alone in my rave review of Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part I. As somewhat of a fan of the books—but not, mind you, much of a fan of the films— my take on this fourth and latest film installment is a bit biased. The plot very closely follows that of the first half of Stephaine Meyer’s last—and in my opinion best—Cullen-centric novel. The precise translation of the book into cinematic form was its main appeal for me.

If you haven’t read the Twilight saga, first of all, go out right now and read them. (If nothing else, do it for the sake of being up on your pop culture references.) A quick, spoiler-free synopsis up through Breaking Dawn, Part I: Bella Swan (Kristin Stewart) is a teenage girl who has moved to Forks, Washington and fallen in love with a 104-year-old vampire named Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). They get hitched. (In one of the most spectacular wedding scenes I’ve ever seen...) Edward agrees to turn Bella into a vampire.

Now, the question with Breaking Dawn as a cinematic installment of the Twilight series is not whether it’s a good or bad film. The question is how it compares in relation to the other films. Taken alone, Breaking

Dawn is a slow, ponderous film. There is very little meaningful dialogue, and the plot elements felt forced. Its cinematic virtue is salvaged only by some magnificent scenery in the Pacific Northwest and in Rio de Janeiro, where Bella and Edward spend their honeymoon.

So it’s no cinematic gem. However, when examined in comparison with the three other movies so far, Breaking Dawn, Part I stacks up rather well. While it is missing the interesting indie edge that director Catherine Hardwicke brought to the first film, this fourth film does not flat line as badly as the second film, New Moon, which would have died without Jacob (Taylor Lautner) and his packs (both the abs and the fellow werewolves...). The Twilight cast also offers a surprisingly high quality of acting compared to the previous films. The actors seem to have blossomed into... actual actors. (A blossoming which began, admittedly, in the third film, Eclipse.) In the context of the Twilight film series, the first part of Breaking Dawn is probably the best so far.

As a downgraded “Twi-hard,” I enjoyed Breaking Dawn immensely. But as a critic, I have to admit that the film felt as though all the life had been drained from it. Not taking its cinematic Twilight predecessors into account, I have to agree with some of my fellow moviegoers who said that Breaking Dawn, Part I “sucked” (pun intended). But like its immortal Cullen clan, nothing could possibly kill this franchise. At least until the final film is released next November.