The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli
Rated: PG-13, for disturbing images, violence, sexuality/partial nudity and some thematic elements
Runtime: 1 hour, 48 minutes
Bottom line: A movie with no pulse
The Twilight movies put reviewers in a no-win situation.
Most moviegoers, even some ardent fans, know that these are not great movies. At least, not "great" in the same sense as "Citizen Kane" or "Gone With the Wind." Yet people just keep on buying tickets. So what is there to say?
The Twilight movies are an indulgence, just like Thanksgiving desserts. My biggest problem with this series is that the producers and directors refuse to treat them as what they are: exploitative guilty pleasures.
These movies suffer from taking themselves way too seriously, and none is more guilty than "Breaking Dawn Part I."
This is the first half of the series climax, and it's probably the least climactic movie yet. The filmmakers divided one book into two movies, and Part I suffers greatly for it.
Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) get married. The films spends a solid 30 minutes on the prenuptials and the ceremony, which is a dreamy gothic affair.
Fans who go to Twilight for the romance will likely be satisfied with this, the wedding of the year. It's actually quite lovely. (And at least we know this marriage will last longer than that Kardashian farce.)
Jacob (Taylor Lautner) struggles with the wedding. He continues to pine for Bella and try to protect her, to no avail. This kid is more melancholy than Hamlet.
Edward whisks Bella off to Rio for the honeymoon, which they spend on a private island. The consummation of the marriage presents a problem, though.
Being a vampire, Edward has incredible strength. So if the wedding night becomes, shall we say, enthusiastic, he could literally kill Bella.
This is where the filmmakers really should have developed a sense of humor. I mean really, the groom is afraid of breaking the bride on the wedding night. Surely someone could have spotted the potential for comedy in that. But no, being Twilight, the movie takes the situation seriously.
Why won't you laugh with us, Twilight? Why?
The problems only grow, too. Bella soon finds herself pregnant. Vampire babies apparently gestate much more quickly than human babies, because within days, Bella has morning sickness and a baby bump.
Let's pause a moment to reflect. Vampire babies? The undead producing new life? I didn't know this was possible. Neither did the vampires. As far as the Cullens know, a human-vampire hybrid child is unprecedented.
That's hard to believe. But that phenomenon becomes silly when Edward begins to research it. Where does he go? Some ancient, dust-covered book? No. He Googles it.
Edward, Jacob and everyone else spends the rest of the movies worrying that the pregnancy, which is unnatural in numerous ways, will kill Bella.
Thankfully, the movie avoids a big abortion discussion, an element of the novel that has sparked controversy.
I have never read the Twilight books, but I have yet to meet anyone who claims the movies in any way measure up to their source material. The stories in the movies are so ludicrous, I can only conclude that Stephenie Meyer finds ways to make them seem plausible, whereas the screenwriter, Melissa Rosenberg, cannot.
The scripts are just plain bad.
I actually give Stewart, Pattinson, Lautner and Billy Burke some credit for doing what they can with the material. The acting has improved with each entry in the series.
"Breaking Dawn Part I" seems like the weakest adaptation of the franchise, because there simply isn't much to it. We are obviously heading toward a showdown of some sort with the Volturi, and the werewolves will inevitably play a significant role in it.
But we merely glimpse the Volturi in this movie, and there is exactly one battle between the vampires and werewolves.
That leaves very little except waiting for the baby and even more brooding. Here's hoping that something actually happens in the final movie.
Jeff Marker is a media studies professor at Gainesville State College.