(2011)3Alaina O'ConnorIn Eclipse, the third film in the Twilight series, Bella (Kristen Stewart) finally made her choice between broody vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) and hot-blooded werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner). Now fully committed to each other, Bella and Edward embark on a journey that leads them to exotic nuptials, an over-the-top wedding night, and the tumultuous birth of a vampire child in all its complicated glory. Bella and Edward have kept it pretty PG so far with heavy-petting sessions and syrupy love confessions, but in this film, the star-crossed couple go from lovelorn teenagers to saucy adults and take everything to the next level. Director Bill Condon and returning screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg waste no time building towards the wedding, giving us hints along the way that this couple may not necessarily live happily ever after. Breaking Dawn feels more mature than the previous Twilight films, as Condon brings a certain visual elegance that helps with some of the more-absurd elements of the story.
The opening moments of the film bring Bella Swan, Edward Cullen, and their loved ones together for an über-romantic wedding and exotic Rio de Janeiro honeymoon, where the couple finally consummate their relationship. Unfortunately, their newfound marital bliss is cut short when a series of betrayals and misfortunes threaten to destroy their world. Bella soon discovers she is pregnant, and during a nearly fatal childbirth, Edward finally fulfills her wish to become immortal. But the arrival of their daughter, Renesmee, sets in motion a perilous chain of events that pits the Cullens and their allies against the Volturi, the fearsome council of vampire leaders, setting the stage for an all-out battle.
Where Eclipse raised the bar for the franchise with its polished action sequences and tight story, Breaking Dawn excels at examining the relationship between Edward and Bella. Even still, when the film shifts away from the duo to address other characters and exposition, the narrative goes flat and the ensemble's performances suffer as a result. Perhaps this is due in part to the source material -- Stephenie Meyer's prose relies heavily on sensory perception, which Condon has difficulty translating to screen; what you're left with is a stagnant story and wooden acting. To say that the infamous wedding-night scene and vampire-baby birth sequence are excessive is putting it mildly, and they both require some major suspension of disbelief. Considering that Breaking Dawn is the most-out-there novel in the series and is heavy on drama and very light on action, the film version would have benefited from Condon taking risks, pushing beyond the PG-13 rating and invoking a greater sense of urgency.
Breaking Dawn took a cue from the Harry Potter playbook and was split into two films, the second of which will be released in the fall of 2012. Fans of the novels will be pleasantly surprised at how beautifully Condon handles some of the more-delicate aspects of the story, and despite the fact that certain elements of the book get lost in translation, Breaking Dawn is a worthy addition to the Twilight franchise.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 on AllMovie
In this installment of the "Twilight" saga, Bella (Kristen Stewart) becomes pregnant after marrying Edward (Robert Pattinson), which leads to a dangerous childbirth and a shocking realization for werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner).