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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 18, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 46
Inert Breaking Dawn a bloodless bummer
Arts & Entertainment
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Inert Breaking Dawn a bloodless bummer

by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN Contributing Writer

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1
Opening November 18
At this point, there isn't a lot more to be said about the ongoing cinematic adventures of teenager Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and her undead vampire boyfriend (soon to be husband) Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). You've either fallen under author Stephenie Meyer's spell or you've chosen to sit there quietly and just endure what's being thrown up there on the screen. There's little middle ground, not much room to move around in, and while this treacle-laden bit of melodramatic gothic fantasy hokum isn't my particular cup of O-negative, it's getting more difficult for me to begrudge people from enjoying a great big swallow.

All the same, it's very challenging to look at The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 and not want to laugh. Easily Meyer's most insane bit of over-the-top and giddily silly prose, the basic truth is that not a heck of a lot happens here. Sure, Bella and Edward get married, and yes, the supercilious teenage heroine does get pregnant, but as far as plot is concerned, there's just not a lot of there, well, there. The book is page after page of brooding and pouting and worrying and wedding preparations, and when the final moments do come, they're so freakishly out-there and idiotic it's almost stupefying that a person of even subterranean intelligence could have taken them seriously.

Yet, much like Warner did with a certain saga about a boy wizard who lived, Summit Entertainment isn't about to let their cash cow die and have chosen to split Meyer's final Twilight novel into two parts. The problem is what was thin on the page is even thinner on the screen, and for all of returning screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg's and acclaimed director Bill Condon's (Gods and Monsters, Kinsey) attempts to add meat to this carcass's bones, the simple fact is that nothing of actual consequence takes place at any point during this film's entire 117-minute running time.

OK, that's not exactly fair. Like those episodes of Angel where Darla became pregnant with Buffy's former beau's baby, the eventual coming of Bella and Edward's little bundle of joy isn't without its drama. Stewart does her best to make her character's decisions resonate and have meaning, and at least this time around her seemingly continual suffering has an actual reason behind it (the child is slowly consuming her from the inside). The birth itself is beautifully realized, Condon pulling out every stylistic trick in the book to maintain most of Meyer's Cronenberg-like bits of sexual insanity, but at the same time keeping them safe for a PG-13 audience.

For maybe the first time in this series, I got the sense even 'Twi-hards' were starting to come to the realization just how harebrained all of this overwrought melodrama is. Scenes of Jacob (Taylor Lautner) and his werewolf Native American brethren fighting over the coming supernatural birth are unintentionally hysterical, while climactic fight sequences are as foolish as they are pointless. Sequences of the Cullens - mostly Edward, no surprise there - brooding over Bella's condition get more and more supercilious as the film progresses, everyone making profound pronouncements of utmost seriousness and import at the drop of a hat.

Yet the basic fact remains that, much like the climactic novel it is based upon, not much actually happens in this first chapter in the Breaking Dawn adventure. For nearly two hours people sit, stare, walk, talk, argue, brood (it's a trend), worry, and make meaningless statements about the fates of mother and child. The level of danger is fairly nonexistent as it's not like the werewolves are going to kill Edward or Bella will not achieve her ultimate goal (and if you don't know what that goal is, you're thankfully one of the few who've stayed out of the Twilight loop). Sure, the last scenes have a kinetic, almost psychosexual fury this series has lacked since the beginning, but so what? It's all in service to a soapy and meaningless story I couldn't care less about, and the fact that I still have to sit through a climactic second chapter next summer is about as big a bloodless bummer as any I could imagine.

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