Review: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1


It’s a challenge to get angry over something you don’t really care about. When your greatest emotion toward a thing is general apathy, then getting angry about it isn’t worth your time. So it is a testament to how insanely stupid The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1 is that it made a series of films I didn’t give a damn about into something so stupid that it actually aggravated me into annoyance.

I, like many a husband/father/boyfriend, had heard that the fourth book was pretty universally hated from my wife, but I didn’t actually realize how stupid, weird and flat-out disturbing it got until seeing the new movie. Still, you can’t blame a film based on a book for adhering to the book’s idiotic storyline. I can, however, blame it for sucking as a movie.

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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1
Director: Bill Condon
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: 11/18/2011

Before any Twihards jump on me for simply hating this because it is a Twilight movie and I have a penis, I’ll point you to my pre-Flixist reviews of the past films (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse) which show me actually describing them as decent, especially if you’re a fan. So know that when I call Breaking Dawn: Part 1 a bad movie, it’s because it is a bad movie hampered by a terrible story, poor plotting and mindless direction that won’t let the camera sit still, and not because I’m pre-judging on the fact that it’s the reason we have shows like The Vampire Diaries.

If you’re three movies behind, I’ll catch you up here. Bella (Kristen Stewart) is a girl, and she’s in love with Edward (Robert Patterson), who is a vampire, and they’re getting married. Previously, Bella was also in love with Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who is a werewolf. Werewolves and vampires don’t get along, so a lot of fighting went on. There’s also these vampires who rule everything and want to mess with Edward, Bella, and their family, but they don’t even show up in this movie, despite seeming to be really important to the overall plot of the series. In Part 1, Bella and Edward finally get married, at which point they go on a honeymoon to a bright, sunny island (yet Edward doesn’t sparkle at all) and proceed to have really hot vampire/human sex.

Do you know what happens when you have sex? You get pregnant. Bella is thus impregnated with Edward’s vampire seed, and she starts having a rapidly growing vampire/human baby that is killing her. Edward wants to abort the baby to save Bella, but Bella wants to keep it and Jacob just wants to pout a lot. Meanwhile, the other werewolves in town want to kill the baby, Bella’s parents have no clue what is going on, and Edward’s family is attempting to save Bella and the baby.

For the first thirty minutes of the movie you can easily see why women are in love with these books. First there’s a fairytale wedding to an immortal man who is perfect, then there’s a private island honeymoon with literal bed-wrecking sex, and then the perfect man starts spouting terrible love lines (“It was the best night of my existence.”). I mean, even I was swooning a little by the end of it — or possibly that was just a lack of oxygen from laughing at the bad lovey one-liners. Whatever the case may be, the movie does nothing but bask in its own love story for thirty minutes.

Then the baby shows up and things go from weird to weirder to pedophilic. I’m willing to put aside the rampant pro-life standpoint the film bombards you with because maybe someone else who shares the none-too-subtle views of the film wouldn’t find them quite so heavy-handed. However, this doesn’t make up for the rest of the story, which goes from slightly disturbing to visually disgusting. We’re talking about eating a baby out of a woman’s belly. I expect that in my underground, cult vampire films, not my teenage vampire romance movies. It’s not just this scene, but the entire pregnancy ordeal that is disturbing. It not only involves the aforementioned but an uncomfortable scene of Bella drinking fresh blood, Bella literally snapping her back in half due to her pregnancy, and a disturbing amount of poor life lessons for a movie directed towards teenage girls.

However, much of this can be explained away by the film staying loyal to what is clearly a really odd book. What can’t be explained away is the film’s terrible narrative structure and lack of creativity. Key plot points are rushed through so quickly that at one point Edward has to explain to a group of people (werewolves and vampires), who already know this fact, that werewolves can’t harm someone that another werewolf has imprinted on. It’s a bit of expository dialog that comes at the denouement of one of the few tense scenes in the film and absolutely ruins it. Unfortunately, through some terrible planning in the first three films and an aversion to actually setting up a coherent storyline in this film, that was never explained. It’s indicative of the style of the entire film, which careens through its plot line, focusing more on deep looks between Edward and Bella than actually telling a story that makes any sense.

It’s all the more depressing because Bill Condon directed this outing, and he’s actually a skilled director. It appears, however, that the lack of quality subject matter led him to a lack of quality directing. Not only do most of the actors seem stiff and out of place for much of the movie, but he shoots everything as if he’s removed from the subject matter entirely. Maybe he hadn’t read the book before agreeing to direct, and once he found out what happens, he lost all interest. Even the vampire/werewolf fight scene, which could have been really cool, is tragically cut together and far too dark to enjoy.

I’m not sure what the last movie holds (wait until after the main credits, as there’s a bit of a teaser), but it can’t be worse than this pile of drudge. From beginning to end, this movie makes absolutely no sense, and simply heaps a plethora of convenient plot points on top to get out of the corners it backed itself into. This isn’t just a bad story; it’s a bad movie.

Also, I realize I brought up pedophilia earlier, but explaining that would give away a key plot point, so just ask someone who has read the books about it because you don’t want to go see this one.

Matthew Razak
Matthew Razak is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Flixist. He has worked as a critic for more than a decade, reviewing and talking about movies, TV shows, and videogames. He will talk your ear off about James Bond movies, Doctor Who, Zelda, and Star Trek.