“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn –Part 1” Fails On Every Level

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is a bad movie. Unfortunately, there is no more eloquent or sophisticated way to honestly assess a disaster of this magnitude. Before this review is written off as biased, note that Breaking Dawn is not a poor film simply because it’s part of the extremely successful movie and novel franchise which has legions of diehard fans; Twilight was a decent movie with many positive aspects, thanks largely to director Catherine Hardwicke. Similarly, the fact that the studio and filmmakers are willing to sacrifice quality for fan appreciation can be overlooked; at least they are transparent in their motives. No, Breaking Dawn is bad only because of its lack of any cinematic integrity whatsoever.

The film opens with the long-awaited wedding of Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). After they are married, the two fly to South America to enjoy a romantic honeymoon before Edward turns Bella into a vampire like himself. Their time in paradise is cut short when Bella realizes that she is pregnant. The baby is growing quickly and Bella’s health is deteriorating, so the couple flies home to Forks, Washington where Carlisle (Peter Facinelli) is able to monitor her.

When he finds out that Bella is home, Jacob (Taylor Lautner) visits her and discovers she is pregnant. He knows that the baby is an abomination, but he cares too much for her to let anything happen. The baby violates the treaty between the werewolves and vampires so Jacob’s tribe decides they must destroy Bella and her unborn child. Jacob cannot allow any harm to come to Bella so he turns his back on his tribe and goes to protect Bella alongside the Cullen family.

Breaking Dawn starts at a severe disadvantage because of the ludicrous nature of the fourth book of Stephanie Meyer’s series. Audiences have come to accept vampires in film, books and television to the point where no one really questions the basic mythology. Meyer, though, has crafted a highly disturbing and morbid story which director Bill Condon and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg struggle to make coherent in any way. Condon sets up the first act of the movie as a light-hearted romantic comedy but drastically shifts gears when Bella’s pregnancy is revealed. There is no consistent tone in the film which only draws attention to the fact that Condon is incapable of guiding the movie in any way.

The most distracting aspect of the film (aside from the acting, which will be addressed presently) is the unsophisticated digital effects used to create the werewolves and to make Stewart look like she suffered extreme weight loss. The wolves are cartoonish in nature and in no way terrifying. Worse than the visual component of the wolves is the telepathic conversations they are able to have with one another. While this tool likely worked well in Meyers’ books, on film it is embarrassingly corny and reminiscent of Look Who’s Talking Now!. In regards to Bella’s physical transformation, the effects specialists go to such great lengths to alter her appearance that Stewart is barely able to move during her scenes. Her immobility is made more noticeable by the heavy shadows and low lighting used to hide the poor CGI.

There is no excuse for the abysmal performances given in Breaking Dawn. The actors have had three previous films in which to build their characters and to become comfortable portraying them. Instead, every actor is hamming it up for the camera, constantly trying to steal every scene from the other performers. The best actors look like they aren’t acting and do their best to make their partners look good. They do not deliver every line of dialogue as if hoping it will be in their Oscar nomination reel or try to overpower the other actors by giving grandiose performances when it isn’t necessary. Pattinson and Lautner are most guilty of this, but they are not alone.

There are far too many reasons Breaking Dawn is terrible and a comprehensive list of shortcomings would take far too much time. Put simply, Breaking Dawn has no redeeming qualities and is not worth any audience member’s time or money, no matter how loyal a Twilight fan they may be.

This film is rated PG-13 and runs 117 minutes.

Grade: F


6 thoughts on ““The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn –Part 1” Fails On Every Level

  1. I think you are very wrong about this movie. I have seen all the movies and read all the books and this movie did an excellent job of portraying what happened in the book. I loved how there were funny parts to the movie and then there were some more serious notes as well. Have you ever read the books? This movie is a little slow but that is only because it is necessary so that the viewer gets all the information so they are not lost. I think that the wolfs look very good and that them hearing eachother shows that they come together and care for one another as a pack. In the movie when Jacob goes off on his own he can no longer hear the others. This just shows you that they have to care for one another in order to be part of that pack. As far as the Bella thing goes I really thought they did a wonderful job making her look so frail. It was very realistic to me. She doesn’t move a lot in the scenes because she is frail! If she moves to much she could break…as you see when her back breaks when she goes into labor. I really enjoyed this movie and thought that it really went right along with the book. I would see it over and over again and i would deffenitly recommend that people see it!

  2. Hi Lauren-
    Thanks for commenting. I have not read the books, but that should not affect my viewing of the film. The adaptations should be able to stand on their own with no prior knowledge of the books. “Breaking Dawn” does not do this. I did not read the first book, but I enjoyed “Twilight” as a movie (as I mentioned) because the story works and Hardwicke does a decent job creating suspense and drama.

    I’m happy that the movie lived up to your expectations as a fan; that is what it is meant to do. As a film, though, which is how I judged it, it fails because of the lack of character, poor story and inept direction. But I definitely appreciate your feedback.


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  4. I don’t know Matthew…..is it really that bad?

    I wonder if you had preconceived ideas on how you would rate this movie before you even saw it.

    To say that a movie has no redeeming qualities is extremely harsh. I’m not sure how you “judge” a movie but I clearly recall you marking down an excellent film this year because of your dislike for the subject matter rather than the wonderful qualities that film (The Help) delivered to audiences.

    I can’t say that I am at all enamoured with the performances of Kristen Stewart though – she seems to model herself on Sandra Bullock (wooden) and was a major problem for me in each of the Twilight movies so far.

    Lauren raised some very interesting points in her comments and I ask myself if you may have misunderstood certain points that were in the movie because you aren’t familiar with the novels.

    Due to the extraordinary fan base I’m sure this movie will rate very highly at the box office and unless you are deliberately trying to be controversial and alienating with your comments and grading I don’t believe any movie deserves an F.


  5. Hey Paulie,

    First, thanks for finally making a coherent comment. We appreciate it.

    Second, I had no preconceived notions before reviewing it. I accepted the screening of this film because I hoped that after three previous films that the production value and performances would get better. They did not.

    Third, you say I marked an “excellent film” down this year, but it is your opinion that “The Help” was excellent just like it was (and is) my opinion it was a terrible piece of work. That’s what film criticism is; an opinion based on interpretations and facts, both of which I gave to support my opinion of “The Help.”

    You’re right that I most likely misunderstood certain points because I am not familiar with the books. But, like I said in my review and my comment to Lauren, my ignorance of the source material (the novels) should in no way detract from my understanding of the film. I have not read Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather,” but I enjoyed the films “The Godfather” and “The Godfather Part II” tremendously. How do you explain that?

    Finally, you are correct about “Breaking Dawn”‘s box office possibilities. As of today, it’s made over $130 million dollars, but that does not equate to being a good film. I would never try to be alienating or controversial. I am just giving my honest opinion.

    If you don’t believe any movie deserves an F, then that means the entire grading system is arbitrary. Accordingly, no movie would deserve an A because no film is perfect. Do you see the flaw in your argument? I rated it (and stand by) an F because I don’t believe it deserved anything higher.

    Again, though, thank you for making a comment that I could understand and to which I could respond. Thanks for reading.


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