The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1. Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Dakota Fanning and Taylor Lautner. Directed by Bill Condon. 117 minutes. Rated MA 15+ (Strong themes).
Bella declares ‘undying love’ for Edward. She would have to, wouldn’t she? After all, that is the fate of vampires even if they are nice like Edward and the Cullen family and have inserted themselves quietly into each of their contemporary worlds. But, we do have an initial confession of a secret by Edward when he was sowing his wild fangs in the 1930s (and going to see such films as Bride of Frankenstein, which could serve as something of an image of Bella and her marriage).
The fourth film in the Twilight Saga needs no help from reviewers (and certainly not from so many negative reviews from those who feel themselves above such stories for its niche teenage audience – and their mothers, perhaps). It got its money back in the first few days of its American release.
The undying love, wedding preparation, wedding, reception (and a visit from Jacob who is initially upset with the wedding because of his love for Bella), honeymoon in Brazil, take up the first half of the film – all rather lavish to entertain the fans. Bella’s mother and father turn up and, though she has a frightening nightmare about the ceremony, Bella is happy in marrying Edward.
Complications come with her pregnancy, life threatening, which has the Cullen family anxious, Edward anguishing and trying to help his wife. Again, Jacob arrives, this time to defend Bella because his werewolf family is hostile to the Cullens and attack them. A chance to move from the quiet romanticism of the wedding to some snarling, howling and brawling.
Not knowing the story, I was more than a bit surprised to discover what happens to Bella with the birth of her baby – and then guessed what was really happening, via some special effects of her interior, blood stream and heart, which is the final shock image of Part I so that we will be eager to see Part 2 – what undying love really means.
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson have become Bella and Edward incarnate and everyone seems to be pleased to see them again. And Taylor Lautner is Jacob (shirt off in the first minute or so but then looking very respectable).
Those tempted to rush for the exit as soon as there is any hint of a credit will miss a preview of the sequel which gives a different tone to what we have seen in this film. Michael Sheen as the dastardly vampire leader of earlier films makes a campy violent appearance, setting up some melodrama for the finale as dawn finally breaks.
There have been different directors for each of the films so far. This time it is writer Bill Condon whose previous films include the interesting Gods and Monsters and Kinsey as well as the musical Dreamgirls.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out November 17th 2011.