As I sat down to write a review of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, I honestly had difficulty considering where to begin. Should the review open with a comment about the love scenes that are getting so much hype? Should it focus on how much each of the characters change in this film, which also is getting attention in the press? Or should I begin with the various performances? To tell the truth, the best compliment I can pay for this film, and the first thing I said when I finished watching the film, was that it is the best book to screen adaptation from this series thus far. All the rest falls into place for that reason and because the film was in the hands of a brilliant director.
As far as story content goes, this film has all the important moments that the book has. All the necessary plot points are met, and then it goes even further to fill in any missing blanks. There is a mixture between Bella’s story and Jacob’s story from the book as the movie switches points of view to make sure all key moments from the book are given due justice. There are even some flashbacks to Edward’s time spent away from Carlisle and Esme that are very well done. Personally, I wish there had been some more fighting banter between Rosalie and Jacob, but I only thought about it after the film was over as I considered what had been cut from the book. That was the only thing that didn’t make it into the plot that I wish had been included.
When you consider that this film follows the full cycle of a romance from wedding to baby, as well as a werewolf pack dividing and plotting to kill said baby, there is a great deal of content to cover. But the film never felt rushed, and it never missed a beat, either. In fact, at one point after a great deal of plot had been covered, Laura looked down at her watch to find that there was still over 45 minutes left in the film! And even then, the content that came after that point was still just as well executed as the beginning of the film. The steady pacing allows the story to flow naturally without any beats being forced.
Bill Condon has praised the acting chops of the cast in several interviews. Well, I have to give the praise to Bill Condon for eliciting performances from this cast that are unlike anything we’ve seen previously. Every single cast member steps it up and takes their character to the next level. I’m not sure where Kristen Stewart found it in herself to show the pain and fear that she did in the birth scene, but it is chilling. Robert Pattinson brings an angry Edward into the game for the first time while still showing how much he loves Bella. Yet for me, the one performance that shines above the rest comes from Taylor Lautner. He has a few moments in this film where his reactions and facial expressions are beyond perfection. Without spoiling too much, I will say that the two moments that stand out the most both have to do with Renesmee. Other great moments come from Billy Burke and Anna Kendrick during the wedding scenes. Booboo Stewart and Julia Jones both have their own stand out moments and lines as do each member of the Cullen family. And be sure to stay through the credits for one of my personal favorite sarcastic line deliveries in the film, possibly the entire saga!
Of course no review of Breaking Dawn would be complete without addressing the romance. This is easily the most feminine story of the saga. From wedding to honeymoon to love making to pregnancy to birth, there is so much of the plot that revolves around major life moments, especially for a woman. Yes, there are plenty of romantic moments. Yes, the love scenes are done well and manage to be sexy but still tasteful. However, I actually think the most romantic moments come later on when Edward is fighting for Bella’s life. And as a mother, my heart was tugged on quite a bit by the moment when Edward hears the baby for the first time. I believe that Condon managed to make this a full love story, not just about a newly wedded couple, but about a newly formed family.
My only complaints are similar to complaints in the past. That’s right, we’re talking about hair styles and clothes again. In the past all my complaints have been about Jackson Rathbone’s hair. Not this time. Jackson looks really great! It’s Peter Facinelli that drew the short end of the hair style stick! We heard rumblings of it from Comic Con when the first images rolled out, so this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. I’m also tired of seeing the Cullens in grey. I know that’s so very, very nit picky, but I don’t understand it. They have all the money in the world. Can’t they wear a color other than grey? I don’t know if it’s a way to make them all look paler, but it is a little sad and dreary after awhile. Poor Esme even wears a greyish color to the wedding. But these are minor complaints that I will gladly take to get the amazing performances that were shown in the film.
Over all, I really enjoyed the film. I found myself laughing out loud at several moments and nearly cried at others. I know there were some things that I missed in my first viewing, so I’m excited to see it again and take it all in. It is very true to the book, which as an original fan of the book I appreciate so much! I felt comfortable watching the scenes I have read so many times come to life. In past films, I have held my breath and hopped that certain moments worked well on screen. Often times, I have come out of those moments feeling alright about what I saw and said, “Well, that wasn’t too bad.” There was only one moment in Breaking Dawn that truly had me worried and holding my breath about how it would play out. I won’t tell you which moment that was, but I will say that it ended up being one of my favorite moments in the whole film. Thank you, Bill Condon, for staying true to the story and for finding realism in something so heavily embedded in fantasy. And thank you to the cast for going to those dark places and bringing this whole series to life. With Part 1 being this good, I find it difficult to believe we have to wait a whole year for Part 2!
We will post a more detailed review full of specifics and spoilers after the film has released. This review is solely the opinion of Lori Joffs.