Review: 'Breaking Dawn Part 1' Takes it From 'Blah' to 'What the Hell?'

November 18, 2011

Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 Review

The stance on the Twilight franchise between fans and critics is about as wide-gapped as Team Edward vs. Team Jacob. As much as the millions of "Twi-hards" love the first three films, there's very little denying among those who view them from a critical eye that the films are awfully constructed, horribly acted, and painfully dreary. In terms of the latest, Breaking Dawn - Part 1, you can rest in the comfort of knowing much of that still applies. The acting hasn't improved. The story is still shallow as a blood slide. But, Bill Condon, the fourth director of the franchise, realizes the outright insanity Stephenie Meyer injected into the final novel of her series, and he embraces it. Breaking Dawn - Part 1 might be nothing to admire in terms of structure or style, but there's still a universal understanding that anyone will turn to look at an interesting car wreck, one that leaves the cars twisted in ways you never even thought were possible.

Oh, story? Fine. Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) is finally marrying vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). Werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) still pines for Bella who only sees him as a good friend. With each, passing day, Jacob mentally wrestles between wanting to tear Edward to pieces and the truce the vampire Cullens and werewolf tribe created between each other. Bella and Edward venture off to their island honeymoon, but, as with anything involving a vampire-human-werewolf love triangle, nothing progresses quite like you'd expect it to.

For instance, did you know Bella and Edward play chess on their honeymoon? Chess. Interesting, no? It's just one of about a dozen moments of minutia and tedium Condon and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg felt necessary to include in the film's first half. Seriously, the first half of Breaking Dawn - Part 1 doesn't even ride the line between interesting and boring. It takes a swim in the boredom pool, showing us every, little detail of the marriage and subsequent honeymoon between Bella and Edward. Much of this could have and probably should have been stricken completely between novel and film, but they needed two movies to fill.

That's part of the problem, the idea that Summit Entertainment decided to split Breaking Dawn into two movies to keep the Twilight golden goose healthy and prolonged in its egg laying. The novels could have been cut down to one, evenly paced movie. But why do that when you can create two, meandering movies? The core audience is already built in. Who cares if they bore the rest of us to sleep with scenes of Edward and Bella holding each other in an exotic stream? I'm so glad they cut back to that chess game a couple of times, though. I wondered why that was on the book cover.

But then the unthinkable happens. Bella realizes after the two consummate their marriage that she is now carrying Edward's "possibly vampire" fetus. Thus, with the second half of Breaking Dawn - Part 1, the ocean of batshit insanity kicks in, and, thankfully, Condon and Rosenberg don't shy too far away from that, either. This is PG-13 like the previous films, but that's only thanks to creative… cutting. You still get the idea of what's happening, and how graphic things could have gotten if the camera was allowed to be aimed elsewhere. Of course, much of this is best left unrevealed, especially for those who haven't read the books or who even despised the first three films. None of these films are good, but when the story takes this many soap opera-level turns and crafts this many "what the hell?" moments, your curiosity takes over. You can't help but wonder where Meyer and her bizarre imagination is going to take her characters next.

Granted, the whole time the story plays loop de loop before your eyes, you're subject to the acting of the film's three leads. None of them seem to have improved in the three years since Twilight, especially Lautner who almost seems to have regressed back to his Sharkboy and Lava Girl days. Sure, he loses his shirt in record time, 30 seconds into the film by my count, but Taylor Lautner's abs aren't the ones with the credit here. Pattinson and Stewart still do that slow movement, stare-blankly-at-the-floor, try-not-to-throw-up form of acting that's gotten them so far. Who can blame them, really? It's not like it hasn't all been lucrative up until this point.

Much of Condon's in-frame direction is adequate. There's nothing visually magical put on display with Breaking Dawn - Part 1, nor is it Catherine Hardwicke levels of terrible. It's just fine, save for the few vampires-on-werewolf action moments we get where the CG creations at night blur into one another. I swear I saw a werewolf take a bite out of a tree at one point. Also, the way Condon captures the werewolves conversing while in their transformed state is flabbergasting to put it mildly. Let's just say I'll never look at a pack of giant werewolves in the middle of a quarry the same way again. Because that happens all the time.

But the acting and direction are style outside of the substance, especially when that substance is what we get in Breaking Dawn - Part 1, an appalling experiment in awe-inducing story telling. Is it good? Absolutely not. None of the Twilight movies have been good. But the banality seen up until now has been removed like rust being kicked from a sheet of metal. Breaking Dawn is craziness beyond words, a visual realization of the sheer insanity Stephenie Meyer put forth in her novel, one of which those who felt the Twilight series was as bland as egg whites up until now might actually take notice. Maybe using eggs as an analogy was a poor choice here. Breaking Dawn - Part 1 isn't going to win over any new fans for when Breaking Dawn - Part 2 hits November 2012, but even those who dislike all four Twilight movies, myself included, can't deny this film doesn't show them something they've never seen before. Or thought would ever see. Or even ever cared to see. Or thought was even possible.

Jeremy's Rating: 4 out of 10 (or 7, maybe 7.5, if we're just going by the last half)

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Had the "privilege" of having an early viewing yesterday thanks to my wife. I must say it was absolutely terrible. 1 minute of fighting with the rest of the movie an absolutely terrible soap opera. Saddest part of all is the fact i had to pay 12 dollars for a ticket

Mdiddles on Nov 18, 2011


Yes! Yes! Yes! OMG, Breaking Dawn - Part 1 is absolutely incredible! I can't wait for Part 2! MORE MORE MORE!!!! Don't ever stop making Twilight movies! They've never been better...never! Never better! Woooo! 🙂

Serena Logan on Nov 18, 2011


The writing is terrible. No matter how many times you change a director, their writer stayed the same. It was STILL horrible. Idiots.

Mr. Foe on Nov 18, 2011


Silly boys, you know men when it comes to Twilight, they become such little babies! I love the Twilight series! Breaking Dawn - Part 1 was amazing! Oh, God, the only thing that's going through my head to describe this movie, it's like sex with an orgasm at the end of it!

Carmen on Nov 18, 2011


Thats because you wont have one with a real ma.

Chip_Tha_Ripper on Nov 18, 2011


hate to say that she really left herself open for that one. (that's what she said)- The great Michael Scott

ur_baby's_daddy on Nov 18, 2011


I think it's funny that you both think you're real men.  With "men" like you, who wouldn't want a fantasy?

LumpySpacePrincess on Nov 18, 2011


Ill go out and buy glitter and brood a lot. Then I will be a real man.

ur_babys_daddy on Nov 18, 2011


i loved the movie dont let da get to u we know what we watch is good and ones that stink

Storm_tribe1984 on Nov 18, 2011


Ummm, what?

Aj Meadows on Nov 18, 2011


I can't stop laughing at your comment "Aj". Applause!

JBrotsis on Nov 19, 2011


what the hell are you saying?

Antarius on Jan 4, 2012


No. No. No. It's not only men.  Twilight is fine if you like that kind of stuff, but you can't honestly argue that the films are good... Also, I'm afraid to see what you do in the theater when watching this... 😛

Tiana Hahn on Nov 21, 2011


If you enjoyed this movie you are an idiot. Plain and simple. I love the books and wanted to leave after five minutes of this dumb movie.

Mandie Medeiros on Nov 18, 2011


im not dumb keep that comment to ur self mandie medeiros ... i loved it and plan on seeing it again

Storm_tribe1984 on Nov 18, 2011


watch it once your robbed... watch it twice... that makes you dumb

princess leah on Nov 19, 2011


So true haha

Mdiddles on Nov 19, 2011


I agree with you Mandie.  The books were captivating despite people saying that Meyer's writing is bad.  Meyer's writing couldnt have been that bad if millions of books were sold globally.  In terms of the movie, such a dissappointment.  It lacked the substance that the books portrayed in so many ways.  Despite Bella not being married outside but in fact inside the Cullen's house was one of many inconsistancies in the movie I felt irrespective whether people may view such inconsistences as trivial.  Compared to the other Twilight instalments,  this movie was a let down I felt.

Femininescent on Nov 26, 2011


i loved every minute of breaking dawn part one and i plan on going to watch it again

Storm_tribe1984 on Nov 18, 2011


This article makes me sick......typical male chauvanism.  Women have to CONSTANTLY watch stupid guy movies with half-naked, brain-dead women, but we FINALLY get some movies that are romantic, where the men are beautiful, and all you guys can do is bitch and moan about how much you hate it.  These movies were not MEANT to be for men!!!  "Real" men don't have a romantic bone in their bodies, so we have to live vicariously through fantasy men and scenarios.  We don't give a damn if the acting isn't stellar, it's all about the fantasy.  We don't care that you hate it!!  If "real" men weren't such a disappointment, then the TWILIGHT franchise wouldn't be such a the way I see it, you only have your pathetic selves to blame.

LumpySpacePrincess on Nov 18, 2011


Except that The Twilight series is more chauvinistic than anything in contained in this post. If you haven't managed to figure out that the books and films are an extended metaphor for what women's place in society should be, then I feel sorry for you. The message for young girls in these torrid pieces of shit is "1. Wait for perfect, magic fairy man. 2. Get married. 3. Get fucked. 4. Have Kid. 5. Your done, rinse and repeat"

Lebowski on Nov 18, 2011


Real men pay real bills. Id love to stay in high school for 80 years and hang out with 17 yr olds and.....wait. didn't I see that on Dateline NBC?

ur_babys_daddy on Nov 18, 2011


"Real" men want to have sex with young girls and you approve of it? I will never understand the minds of some women.

Josh Taylor on Nov 18, 2011


I'm a romantic, and I wouldn't watch this crap if you paid me to.

JL on Nov 19, 2011


Hi, fellow female, here. Like what you like, but let's not call upon "male chauvinism" because you disagree with this article, yes? By the way, if Twilight is supposed to be for women, then as the target audience, I feel rather cheated. I don't find any of this romantic at all. I find it ridiculous. And that has nothing to do with male chauvinism.

sai on Dec 21, 2011


Guys do like Twilight, just that the films are very badly acted. Lol. The issues off behind this comment are very obvious. Lol.

Michael_kelbie on Dec 21, 2011


Okay my little Kindergarteners... Those who liked it liked it. Those who didn't did not. Can we leave it at that?

OhPlease on Nov 18, 2011


agreed. this is getting old and tiresome. i personally don't give a shit if you paid money for this crap. go and have a sparkly party!

l.beezy on Nov 19, 2011


I'm not a male chauvinist pig but I have to say that this movie was dreadful, even worse than New Moon. Nearly everything about this movie is preposterous ... and borders on the ridiculous. I have lost count of the number of times I was rolling my eyes.  Why my girlfriend has to keep on dragging me to this puerile series I honestly don't know. I'm obviously whipped because were I not, I would be more vehement in my refusal to go. The only thing that made me glad about "Breaking Dawn Part 1" is that there is only one more left in the series, and I'm already beginning to dread next summer. The things we do  for love?! And @LumpySpacePrincess, seriously? Just because we call a spade a spade (saying Twilight is baloney) doesn't mean we're not romantic. The problem is that the way the "Twilight men" act is so far removed from reality that it enacts unrealistic expectations in girls and when the reality hits them, they can't help but roast us men, like you're doing. Maybe your guy is the real disappointment. Please don't extrapolate ... just saying 🙂

Frankie on Nov 18, 2011


No doubt Frankie. I've seen "guy" movies that are crap and have said. That doesn't make me anti-man. A crap movie is a crap movie no matter how much sparkles you throw on it.

ur_babys_daddy on Nov 18, 2011


Too true my friend, too true. Crap is crap, no matter how much you try to ivy-coat it, and this is independent of genre. As you say, there are some totally lousy "guy" movies out there. We men are ready to accept that even for vapid "guy" movies that are our guilty pleasures (The Hangover series, lol).  Unfortunately, when you are truthful about some crap that a majority of women like, you start getting accused of being chauvinistic or some such worse thing. It's almost like it's sacrilege to offer your 2 cents worth. Beats me!

Frankie on Nov 18, 2011


If that is what she wants from a man...she is nuts. One is a whiney, petulant cry baby...the other broody, moody and controlling. I'll take my real husband any beer drinking, football watching husband, who would rather chew his own arm off than take me to see these movies. LOL!

Mickygirl on Nov 20, 2011


I'm basically waiting to see all the reviews for the 2nd part of the book - part 1 basically has to be better than part 2 has any hope to be.  All the reviews for this part have completely justified me in getting a friend to agree to wait to see it until it comes to the college campus nearby us - then we'll go see it in that theater.  Always more entertaining with an interactive audience, and it sounds like this part of the Twilight series won't disappoint in giving us material to work with.

Emma on Nov 18, 2011


I stopped dragging my girlfriend to movies a long time ago fearing that one day out of revenge she might drag me to this and you know what? It worked. 

Annonymous on Nov 18, 2011


Yeah, but you might be missing out some Twilight sex out of it. Doesn't hurt to stoke the fire a bit.

rennmaxbeta on Nov 19, 2011


If watching Twilight means getting laid i think I'll stoke my own fire...

Daren on Nov 19, 2011



John on Nov 30, 2011


Cool intro to your review, I'm more concerned of the age level this film is being exposed to, 4yrs - under 13yrs old saw this film. I know this because I was dragged into watching the film and these little kids occupied some of the seats. I am appalled of what their little minds had to see, I mean how do you take such a disturbing film to be considered suitable for a 4yr old.

Anonymous on Nov 19, 2011


I agree....I went to see it as a preview to my Twilight loving 11yo. She has read the first 3 books...but I won't let her read the 4th yet. So, she really wants to see the movie...but after seeing it, I have decided she needs to wait a little while. But there were small children ALL OVER the theater...I don't know what people are thinking.

Nolesgal on Nov 20, 2011


You think that was bad? When I went to see Piranha 3D there were young children in the theater. 

Fay Popejoy on Nov 20, 2011


Disturbing..come on.. its a fiction movie from a book.. parents shouldn't let there kids read or see the movies if they don't want too, but i think it was a great film for those who have read and followed the books. we get to see them become this wonderful married couple now from simple high school pup love.. Its great romantic FICTION.. and can't wait to see the end.. Iam buying my tickets early..I maen millions of people around the world love this saga..(you prob. love star wars.. )

michele rando on Nov 20, 2011


The books are not great literature by any stretch...but they are light, fluffy entertainment. The movies up to this point have not been oscar winners...but they are cheesy, campy fun. Not everything has to be Citizen Kane. Breaking Dawn was terrible. Just awful. I cringed at the wolf conversation scene and wanted to leave at the insanely stupid and disgusting birth scene. I went to see it to preview it for my 11 yo daughter who loves the series...but she will not be seeing it for a little while. I wanted to like just wasn't possible.

Nolesgal on Nov 20, 2011


For those who must hate on something..... find something else, because this film is WONDERFUL!!!Iam a true fan of all the books and films and beleave that this film was a great set up for the ( oh so sad ) last film..It has all that I wanted to see Romance, some action,humor, and more twist and turns anything...LOVE ME SOME EDWARD AN BELLA!!!

michele rando on Nov 20, 2011



John on Nov 30, 2011


Twilight raped my wallet.

ExfangirlMmfun on Nov 22, 2011


I would rather gouge out my eyes with sporks than watch 1 minute of any of these films. Thank you, have a good day.

Cgreene159 on Nov 24, 2011


Poor, flat acting. Characters were not discernible from previous. Could have been a totally different movie with different characters. Holes in plot. Intrusive soundtrack attempting to plug gaps. Unintentionally humorous. CGI had problems with scale during "fight scene". "Fight scene" packed in to liven up what is essentially a poorly acted romantic film.

Michael_kelbie on Nov 25, 2011


Am Obsessed with twilight,but this part i didnt like it much,i mean the screen writer changed Edward..We Want Edward BACK

Nony on Nov 27, 2011


I didnt see the film, the wife watches anything with Vampires. What I did see on DVD was terrible acting, the wife agrees they all have no talent or seem to care. The back stories of how they became vampires have loved and lost would have been interesting. PS I dont understand is the baby both vampire and werewolf? confused but dont really care. PS Immortals was fantastic. fun, great visuals, amazing fight scenes, cool concepts.

Patrick on Dec 6, 2011


Twilight is a fantasy.  Please look up the word damphir, you will see that the mythology is credible.  Women still die in childbirth.  A C-section is a major operation and preeclampsia can be deadly.  I do not think that if given the choice, many husbands would opt to let his wife die.  In most cases it is the wife that has to explain the situation and remain strong.  As far as no happily ever after, I know many couples who have been married forty-seven years or more, and they still look at each other as if they just met.  If given the choice between a diplomatic solution or a bloody one, most people would take the diplomatic. Twilight and Harry Potter are not the same.  Harry Potter is for age seven and above.  Twilight is for young adults and above.  However, when each series started out they were not popular,but now are worldwide phenomenons.  That  is one thing they do have in common. If you are a true fan, see again and pay attention to the peripheral areas (especially the left).  You will be surprised what you missed.  If you are not a fan, see it with someone you love, and try to remember what it was like when the passion consummed you, and the only person you wanted in your life was him or her.  Edward Cullen is not real.  Neither is Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingsley, Edmond, or Dante.  Unfortunately, there are many Mr.Wickhams, Eric Packers, Georges Duroy and Lorenzos in the world.   Life is too short! With all the horrible things going on in the world, a little fantasy is a good thing.  

Dianne Schoby on Dec 28, 2011


Amazing write-up! This could aid plenty of people find out more about this particular issue. Are you keen to integrate video clips coupled with these? It would absolutely help out. Your conclusion was spot on and thanks to you; I probably won’t have to describe everything to my pals. I can simply direct them here!

cheap bras on Jan 19, 2012


I wish the leads weren't so awkward in their acting, makes me feel awkward watching them. I am sinfully into the movies and it's for the story. I remember when i heard about the sparky vampires-I was boycotting but I can't critique without watching so I did. Reading the books helped alot, I cannot imagine what people who didn't read the books were interested in. Knowing the intensity of the relationships made me compensate for what the actors lacked. Watching this movie had me blown, I guess it helped that I expected to see a spit up of the second or third movie but this was something else. I went from seeing a tween movie to a slight horror and having recently had a kid I really felt for bella despite the fact I felt the acting got worse...she was really in her zone during the starvation phase-her acting style seemed to fit best. I mourn Taylor as an actor, he could have become much better but I fear twilight will have him type cast and I love Jacob but one is enough. I didn't even see abduction-I simply stopped going to theaters. I have to disagree with whoever said this movie should not have been split into parts, I should have left out some parts while focusing on others. Like starting with the wedding, I was like..."it's been a while but what happened between the third and fourth movie?" It felt so I most do this for that to happen-makes for a horrible beginning but the ending made up for it a bit-great writing piece by the way

Barbara Ruiz on Feb 24, 2012

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