Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 1 Review
Cinema’s funniest franchise returns once more, continuing on its seemingly unstoppable rampage to corrupt all the young women it can wrap its tendrils around. This time, however, the story is gearing up for its climax, chopping the pointlessly long novel into two halves to allow for, um, maximum adaptation, or something. Let’s be honest, it’s probably got more to do with money.
The movie kicks off with eighteen year old Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) marrying the man of her dreams in the shape of one hundred year old vampire Edward Cullen (Cedric Diggory). Then they go on a honeymoon. Then they have sex. Then she gets pregnant. Then she dies. Then she gets made a vampire. Then the credits roll, signalling an end to the longest two hours of your life.
If that plot summary seems ridiculous, that’s because the film feels like it has been stretched out by the filmmakers. The writer is trying to construct an elaborate and engaging story with a narrative that evolves and grows with the passing of time. Stephanie Meyer is sitting somewhere off to the writer’s side reading the plot points aloud, saying, ‘and then she gets pregnant and then they don’t know what to do and then the werewolves threaten to attack and then…’
It may please some to note that absolutely nothing has changed in the franchise. Bella is still a hateful moron, Edward still a whiny douche and Jacob is still –impossibly – the most likeable character, owing to his tendency to get crapped on from a great height and take it all in stride. Amusingly, Bella’s human friends – the ones she made who stuck by her throughout her difficult transition to a new school – appear to have completely given up on her, preferring not to try and talk her out of this nonsense. Bella’s dad continues on top form, also appearing to have given up on his daughter, choosing to deliver the film’s funniest intentional humour by threatening to shoot Edward.
However, that’s not what this film is about. No, no, dear friends, Breaking Dawn Part 1 is pure fan service through and through, seeing Bella and Edward finally throw caution to the wind and have some of the most awkward sex in the history of bump and grind. Their honeymoon – shaggery and all – takes up roughly twenty minutes, which, interestingly, is the same length as an actual sex scene in a triple X porn film. The fangirls will undoubtedly go nuts for this, but anyone watching this film in theatres would do wise to bring non-slip footwear to combat the moisture that builds up on the floor.
But here’s where things get weird – the symbolism. The Twilight franchise has never been subtle in the message it wants young, inexperienced girls to absorb and this time is no exception. The difference is that this time the message is deeply, deeply disturbing.
First up, the film once again defends domestic abuse by having Bella tell Edward that it’s okay that he bruised her during their first attempt at lovemaking. This has been an ongoing issue for the franchise, the idea that IT’S OKAY IF HE BEATS YOU, AS LONG AS YOU LOVE HIM (capitals for emphasis on how utterly ludicrous that sentence is.) Edward abuses her physically during sex and emotionally when he frequently storms out on her while she’s having a crisis, but it’s okay because she loves him. It’s also fascinating to note that Edward gives Bella what she wants (i.e. sex) once and then spends the rest of the honeymoon slowly breaking her heart by holding that against her. Remember girls, if you think you love him, you’ll stand by him no matter what.
Secondly, the film puts forward the idea that young girls should throw away their virginity on their first crush EVEN IF THEY’RE NOT READY FOR IT. Seriously, there’s a scene where a panicked Bella attempts to get ready for her first intimate moment with her husband. The moment almost borders on being touching – the young lover, brushing her teeth, shaving her legs, picking out appropriate underwear – but is then swiftly ruined, as though Stephanie Meyer herself had written all over the script, by ending with Bella clearly not being emotionally ready for sex but choosing to go ahead and do it anyway. Remember girls, if he says he loves you, bend over and take it.
The third point of symbolism is probably the most contentious, but worth bringing up. This film is actually an allegory for a young Christian girl being gang-pressed into joining a Satanic cult.
A young girl is bewitched by a strange young man. She falls in love with him and enjoys spending time with his friends, who, like him, are a gang of bloodsuckers. Then he issues an ultimatum to her – to marry him or leave. Being young, inexperienced and naïve, she agrees to his unreasonable demands and marries him. Then he impregnates her with his demon seed – a phenomenon nobody can understand – and the only way she can stay alive is by drinking blood. Giving birth to the monstrous baby ultimately kills her, so she is forced to become a bloodsucker herself in order to survive.
These are all events from the franchise. Is that third point so crazy now?
As a film, Breaking Dawn Part 1 doesn’t work on any level. There is no story, no drama, no conflict, the protagonist doesn’t lead the story, the protagonist doesn’t make decisions to keep momentum going, the climax is laughable beyond belief and the idea that there is – somehow – another two hours of narrative yet to tell is mystifying. The story is over. Bella has achieved everything she wanted, without ever actually having to earn it.
So Breaking Dawn is far from the laugh riot of the earlier films and a far cry from the film that it believes itself to be. In fact, it’s pitiful in a way that makes this writer sad that so many unfortunate young women have been caught up in its spell. Never mind, it’s almost over. Once this is done the next fad will roll in and hopefully that one will be a little better.