Review: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part One

Where The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part One is concerned, you likely reside in one of three camps. You either a) love the source material, anticipate the films, and don't want to hear any dissuasive nonsense; b) hate the source material, loathe the films, and don't want to hear any affirmative nonsense; or c) don't care either way. It's also the rare film in which everyone who is emotionally invested already knows what's going to happen the entire time, with the pictures on-screen merely acting as a paint-by-numbers reenactment. In this manner, it's the most polarizing film of the year, though there are three poles to be considered. Twi-polar, if you will. Yep, this is gonna be one of "those" sorts of missives.

But let's start with the truly terrible aspects of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part One, so that we can end on a positive note, as there are a few bright spots to be found near the end. Not so with the outset of the film, where we're treated to an absolutely brutal wedding spectacle followed by an even worse "bedroom" scene on what seems to be the honeymoon of eternal cheese. At the beginning of the movie, it's not so much that The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part One is tone-deaf as it is lacking any tone at all. How do we know Bella (Kristen Stewart) is beautiful? Because people tell her over and over that she is! How do we know that Edward (Robert Pattinson) feels bad about her post-nuptial bruises? Because he broods like a teenager, which is odd, because he's over 100 years old. You'd have thought he'd learned life is tough, put on a happy face, and all that jazz. But it's not to be.

It also must be noted that every single scene in the film has a song playing underneath. Sometimes overly expository, with lyrics acting as vessels of conveyance where the actors stubbornly refuse to, and at other times just to keep things moving along without any heavy lifting. It's as if they filmed dozens of scenes where nothing really happens then figured, "Well, what if we just added a TON of music? Would it seem like a movie then?" The answer is "kind of." It kind of seems like a movie. But scenes comprised entirely of facial expressions and alt rock don't work after the first 30 minutes or so, and if they did the Oscar would have gone to Alicia Silverstone's dynamic performance in "Cryin'" long ago. The script also completely gives out at certain points. For instance, after Jacob (Taylor Lautner) is schooled on a particularly important bit of alpha-werewolf mythos, he shrugs and says, "Whatever." Whatever, indeed, Jacob. Whatever, indeed.

Still, there are nice moments too. The wedding toasts in the first act stand out as much-appreciated moments of levity, and with no less an actor than Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick back in the fold. The closing credits of the film are also compelling, and be sure to stick around for that end credits scene. It's a grabber. The werewolf CGI is also completely dialed in this time around; the wolves snarl and howl in a very legit manner. And though the final act is Juno meets a romance novel swirled around with True Blood, the final 20 minutes are entertaining as all get out. Hard earned, sure, but the finale does work, which is an accomplishment for a part one.

The themes, buried deep beneath the Velveeta, are worth exploring. The birth of a potential monster, the price of personal happiness, the balance needed in any successful relationship -- these may have been the things The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part One was attempting to explore. Not that they do, and not that it will matter in terms of financial success or artistic appreciation from the intended demographic. If you dig Twilight, you'll find much to like here; if not, not so much.

It reminds one of a Lil' Wayne lyric that sums up the entire franchise quite nicely: "If you ain't running with it ... run from it".

Grade: C