Director: Bill Condon
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Peter Facinelli, Ashley Greene, Billy Burke, Kellan Lutz, Jackson Rathbone, Nikki Reed
Plot: As the wedding night and Bella’s (Stewart) date for turning into a Vamp approaches, she and Edward (Pattinson) try to enjoy their honeymoon with her last week as a human.
As we hit the final book and chapter of the Twilight series, the producers decided to split this part of the franchise into two movies. While somewhere along the way, that might have been seen as a purely commercial decision, I am sure none of the Twihards were complaining. As a result, the writers have the chance to slow down the story and explore the characterisation of the scenes.
This does mean that Part One of Breaking Dawn feels like an extended side chapter in the story. With the first half of the book to portray, this is a story that is all drama and little action. With the exception of a small skirmish between the Cullens and the Wolves in the final few moments, this is a very dialogue based movie, more concerned with the explosive emotions and melodramatic character arcs than anything else. Therefore your enjoyment of Breaking Dawn totally depends on how into Twilight you are coming in. You will not leave this film converted, but fans wanting to see more of the love triangle at the heart of the story, will be glad that the movie has slowed down to a crawl. This does give the benefit of the supporting cast getting moments to shine. With the story moving away from the human characters, namely Anna Kendrick and Billy Burke, it is good to have the space to spend more than a token moment at the wedding, allowing all of them to have a small moment to shine. Burke’s speech at the wedding, for example, could be the finest moment in the whole film. It is also good to be able to tell the story without needing to rush. The honeymoon sequence, which sees Bella prepare for losing her virginity, is something that shouldn’t be breezed over. As a result, that scene, allowed to breathe, shows off the humanity beating behind Stewart’s performance, showing that the actress is more than a frowning face. The dynamic between Edward, Jacob and Bella is very interesting in this fourth film as well. The first three films answered who would end up on top and now Lautner’s Jacob is relegated to the ex-boyfriend, rather than the love interest. His entire arc is about letting go of Bella and accepting that she is moments from becoming the undead enemy. However, as each new story beat develops, Jacob is drawn back into the drama, constantly feeling the need to lay his life on the line for her. He definitely comes across as a more selfless character, Lautner far better here than he has been before.
But overall, despite the smaller blemishes working, the team are working with the weakest story yet. The honeymoon gives birth to a rather interesting problem, which works as a neat metaphor for the next stage in the romance, but it isn’t enough to fill a movie. With some painful dialogue and Pattinson asked to play Edward more seriously than ever before (and let’s be honest, he was hardly a barrel of laughs in the other movies), Breaking Dawn is a hard pill to swallow, especially following the decent Eclipse. Part One works as a means to explore the characters, which will hopefully set the stakes for the finale, but as a standalone movie, we have seen a lot better.
Final Verdict: Like all two part films, Part One suffers from being the less action-packed half, more focused on character than narrative.