Monday, April 23, 2012

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1

Directed by Bill Condon.

For no discernible reason other than money, the fourth book in the “Twilight” series is broken into two movies. Seriously, what’s here could’ve easily been condensed into half a flick. An entire two hours wasn’t needed. Oh well, since no one was kind enough to kill me before my latest trip to one of those endangered species known as a Blockbuster store, here I am reviewing The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1. Ah, the things fathers do for their little girls.

At the risk of spoiling the first three movies in one fell swoop, this one begins with the wedding every tween and early-teen girl proclaiming themselves members of “Team Edward” has been clamoring for. Bella (Stewart) finally manages to drag her vampire beau Edward (Pattinson) to the altar. In general, movie weddings are so overwrought and gaudy they turn my stomach. At first glance, this is no different. However, the rest of the franchise has been so overwhelmingly depressing with its oppressive depiction of young love that anything even remotely joyous happening is a welcome change. Well, werewolf Jacob (Lautner), the third side of our love triangle isn’t too pleased. Hey, we can’t all be winners.

The big deal about Edward and Bella joining one another in holy matrimony is that for three movies now we’ve been hearing that once the “I dos” have been said the new hubby will turn his bride into a vampire. She’s been begging for it practically since the day she met him. As many of you know, and I’ve noted before, vampirism in the Twilightverse is a thinly veiled metaphor for sex. That means everything we’ve seen so far has been an unrelenting advocacy of abstinence until marriage. Fine by me. I do have daughters, after all. However, another possible metaphor occurred to me. More on that, later. For the time being, just know that Bella suddenly decides to wait until after the honeymoon before becoming one of the undead.

Now that the two most morose lovebirds in cinematic history are married, they finally get to do the oochie-coochie. For a few minutes, Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is genuinely cute. My older daughter commented with shock how Bella was actually smiling. The movie then swims into some decidedly adult waters by giving us a love scene. For the first time in the series, the boundaries of the PG-13 rating are put to the test.

Since happiness is not tolerated in the Twilightverse, marital bliss doesn’t last too long. Sex with hubby leaves poor Bella all bruised up. It also leaves her pregnant. Never you mind whether or not that’s possible (even Edward’s not so sure). It is what it is. Lest you forget this is a franchise predicated on the idea that lovemaking must have dire consequences, being pregnant with a half-vampire isn’t enough. It’s killing mom from inside her own body. In typical series fashion, we spend the next 45 minutes to an hour watching Bella die while everyone around her wrings their hands and tries to figure out how to save her. We’re told it’s too late to turn her into the very creature she’s aspired to be for the last few years.

Here is where I get back into metaphors. Maybe it’s because by this point I’m bored to tears. Regardless of why, a thought struck me. Go ahead and call me silly. What I’m getting at is merely a possible interpretation I may have concocted out of thin air. Since the abstinence ship has sailed, could we be on to a diatribe against mixed marriages? Okay, now forget about it.

Anyhoo, the werewolves are none too pleased about the potential addition to the Cullen clan, that’s the vampires in case you somehow didn’t know. They decide the only way to deal with this problem is by killing both mother and child. To be perfectly honest, the wolves had been the one aspect of the series I’ve enjoyed. That changes drastically with this installment. This mostly has to do with them talking while in wolf form. Actually, I think they’re communicating by telepathy since their mouths don’t move. Any of you who’ve read the books, feel free to clue me in at any time. For that matter, explain this whole business of “imprinting”, too. They said it a thousand times and I think I get it, but I must’ve missed the explanation. The bottom line is the wolves come off extraordinarily goofy this time. Taylor Lautner must sense this. He’s so distraught that other than a quick nipple shot in the first few seconds he spends the entire movie with his shirt on. So much for giving your target audience what they want.

Breaking Dawn – Part 1 continues the tradition of bludgeoning its audience into misery. After all, that particular emotion loves company. The Twilight Saga is nothing, if not a bunch of miserable beings trying to miserize each other to death. “Miserize”? The “Twilightverse”? Dear Lord, I’m so bored I’m making up words to entertain myself but I can’t stop watching. It’s only fitting. This series has beaten all sense, intelligence and joy out of me. Yet, I dutifully sit with my family through each addition to the canon. I’m like a kidnap victim with Stockholm syndrome taking a twisted liking to his captor. Like a submissive eagerly awaiting a beating from a dominatrix I’m morbidly anxious for Breaking Dawn – Part 2. I’m like a character in the franchise. I make my way through each film in an emotionless manner other than the pained look on my face. Knowing the films themselves hate me, I still press on. Perhaps just to be able to say that I really did see them all when I proclaim undying hatred for all things Twilight, I am looking forward to enduring more cinematic wounds. Help me.

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