This movie is my favorite of all the Twilight movies with the exception of the first one. Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, the first movie, Twilight, set the stage for the romance and longing that would be thematic through each succeeding movie. Breaking Dawn, Part 1 continued the same feeling of romance and timelessness that the first one invoked. I also liked the first and last books of the Twilight series the best. In the first book (and movie), Bella and Edward meet and fall in love. There is nothing like that moment of falling in love and that first book and movie captured this. And in the last book (and movie), they consummate their relationship and love with a fantasy wedding and “ever after.”
Bill Condon (Dream Girls, Gods and Monsters) directed Breaking Dawn, Part 1 and Melissa Rosenberg wrote the script, as she has for all the Twilight films. They did a masterful, beautiful job and stayed true to author Stephenie Meyer’s vision. If you haven’t read the books, then you’re missing a lot. Yes, you can still enjoy the movies, but you’re going to miss the intricacies that make a story great. Like other books (Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, etc.) the Twilight books are complicated and in-depth. But that’s what makes them so great. They are full of heart. They appeal to girls and boys of all ages because they’re about love. (Boys will deny that they love the books, but many do). The Twilight story is about meeting someone you love so intensely, you know you cannot live without them. It’s an idealized love, sure, but it’s one that all of us long for. It’s the “Cinderella” story of the 21st century. It’s intoxicating.
This review will contain spoilers. Most of you have read the books, so you already know what to expect in the movie. And most diehard fans probably saw the movie during its opening weekend of November 18th, so as you read this, you will understand what I’m thinking, what I’m saying.
One thing I noticed in the movie: all the actors have matured in the 4 years since Twilight began and all are more confident, accomplished actors. Which is fitting for the story because Bella and Edward mature in the books. They grow confident in themselves and of their relationship and it’s wonderful to see this reflected in the movie. When we first met Bella (Kristen Stewart) in Twilight, the original 2008 feature, she was a clumsy, quiet, book-nerdish high-school student surviving adolescence in Forks, Washington. Just a few years later, Bella’s not only graduating from high school, she’s walking down the aisle to marry her “Prince Charming,” in this case, vampire Edward Cullen.
The movie opens with the wedding of Bella and Edward and it is the most fairytale, picturesque wedding I’ve ever seen. Set outdoors in the forest with wood-hewn seats and white flowers forming an overhead canopy from the trees, this wedding is stunning in every way. When Bella and Edward have their first kiss as a married couple, Iron & Wine’s “Flightless Bird, American Mouth (wedding version)” soars through the scene, harkening back to the first Twilight movie. It was the same song that played when Bella and Edward had their first dance at the prom. Nothing could have evoked such stirring, emotional feelings of love as this song and moment. We fell in love with Bella and Edward then as a couple and three years later, we’re celebrating that love again.
Bella’s high school friends are at the wedding and Jessica (Anna Kendrick) has her “scene stealing” moments when she says: “I wonder if she’ll be showing,” to her friend Angela. “Why else does anyone get married at 18?”
There is also humor in the film and during the reception, several people give a toast to the newlyweds including Jessica who talks about how everyone had a crush on Edward in high school, but then it became “all about Bella” even though Bella wasn’t the president of anything. Charlie (Billy Burke) who plays Bella’s father gave one of the funniest toasts, proclaiming, “I am a cop and I know things. I know how to hunt people down….” I would have liked to have seen a few more scenes with Bella and her father because that was one of the highlights of all the films. When she talks to him while on her honeymoon and he says, “So, I guess Edward still walks on water,” I thought it was great. Bella’s mom, Renee (Sarah Clarke) is hilarious as she sings a lullaby to Bella as her way of “toasting” her. It’s really funny. Stephenie Meyer was among the guests at the wedding, as was Melissa Rosenberg. I thought this was a fun nod to them and to Twilight fans as well.
Jacob (Taylor Lautner) surprises Bella at the wedding reception and Bella feels complete. It is only when she tells him that she plans to have a traditional honeymoon while still human that Jacob loses it and has to be escorted off the property by his wolf-pack brothers. All through the movie, we see Jacob mature as well as he comes to a new understanding of the Cullen family. At one point, he says: “I can see that you all are a real family, just as much as the family I was born into.”
Bella and Edward leave on their honeymoon and go to Rio de Janeiro and dance in the streets, then boat on to Isle Esme, a gift from Carlisle and Esme. Their honeymoon night is fraught with nerves and tension, but a moonlight swim helps to ease the stress of “the first time” for both of them. And Edward tells her: “I promised you we’ll try.” It was romantic and perfect. And it was Stewart’s and Pattinson’s strongest performances to date. You can feel Bella’s hunger and desire for Edward. You can feel the love between the two. One of the best moments is “the morning after” when Bella is reliving her night with Edward, remembering moments….a kiss….a touch…his lips…It’s the way we all remember the first time, I believe. We relish in the memories the day after and this was conveyed so beautifully in the movie.
After the first night, he tries to distract her from “the marriage bed” because his strength is almost too much for her and she has the bruises to show this. And he can’t stand the thought of hurting her. And, he wrecked the bedroom, tearing down the canopy around the bed, the bed frame, the window frame and more. It was comical and added humor to the moment. She tries to seduce him during the rest of the honeymoon, parading in front of him in a black nightie that Alice (Ashley Green) packed for her. He laughs and turns away.
The movie will be wonderful for all young girls who are anticipating their “first time” with a guy. It shows the nervousness, the excitement, the beauty and the romance of that first idyllic moment when you have your first sexual experience. It is tastefully done.
Bella discovers that she’s pregnant and the fetus is growing at an alarming rate. Edward wants her to get rid of it because he knows the baby is going to kill her. And even though Bella is going to be turned into a vampire eventually, he worries that she won’t live long enough to birth the baby. Bella is determined that the baby must be brought to term even if it kills her.
The birth and imprinting scenes were very well done and I believe anyone watching it will understand what “imprinting” is. The birth of the hybrid baby is a little gory, I will admit that. But, it stayed true to the book and this was important. (It’s a little girl (Mackenzie Foy, who is beautiful and looks like she could be Stewart’s and Pattinson’s real-life baby) who Bella names Reneesmee after Renee and Esme). And then, when Jacob imprints on the baby, I loved how they showed the baby grown up as a young woman and all the scenes of this young woman running through the fields. (Seems like there could definitely be a sequel to this Twilight series called “Jacob & Reneesmee.” Wouldn’t we all like to see if they get married?)
Bella and Edward return to Forks, Washington where Bella is “sick” and her fetus is growing at an alarming rate. She looks like a refugee from a concentration camp – all bones and stomach. (Rob Pattinson explained on a talk show that they used a computer-generated body that they attached to Stewart’s head to make her look emaciated).
Jacob (Taylor Lautner) learns that Bella is sick and supposedly staying on her honeymoon for an extended time to recover, he visits the Cullen’s house and discovers that not only is Bella sick, but she’s also pregnant with a half-vampire, half-human hybrid who’s destroying her from the inside out. His wolf-pack’s leader Sam (Chaske Spencer) wants him to join their fight to kill Bella and destroy the seemingly dangerous fetus who will “kill them all.” Jacob won’t agree to this and declares his independence from the pack. This scene, done in wolf form with Condon’s other new addition, wolf-pack telepathy, was intense and clearly illustrated how the wolves all communicate psychically with one another. Once Jacob separates from the pack, Seth (Booboo Stewart) and Leah (Julia Jones) join Jacob because they believe it’s the right thing to do
Bella has to resort to drinking blood to give the proper nutrition to the baby. You might think this is gross, but by this time, Bella will try anything because she’s dying. Edward says that animal blood won’t do and Carlisle announces he has some O-negative in stock for Bella. The whole Cullen family is starved for blood because they can’t go out to hunt since the wolf-pack are surrounding their property. The hungry brothers-in-law leave the room so as to not be tempted. Edward has Carlisle put the blood in a white Styrofoam cup to disguise what she’s drinking. But it stains her lips and teeth and looks like the real thing. She says it tastes good though and Carlisle confirms that her blood pressure is already up, proving that the baby does indeed need blood “nutrition.”
In case you haven’t seen the movie, I’m not going to go into the last part of it. I want you to go see it and be surprised. I want you to experience the intensity of the moments of romance, the wedding, the honeymoon, the birth, the liaison between Rosalie (Nikki Reed) and Bella who connive together to save the baby, the problems Jacob has with his wolf-pack brothers, the growth of the characters, the love, the devotion, and so much more.
And the music is wonderful. Carter Burwell scored this movie (as he did for Twilight) and it adds continuity to the first Twilight movie. When Bella “dies,” there is a tie-in to all the other movies that bring it full-circle. But, I’m not going to elaborate on that. Again, I want you to go see it for yourself. And if you haven’t read the books, go get them now. You have no excuse.
I will probably see it several times while it’s in the theater. It is just wonderful.