“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part I” retroactively ruins other films in franchise

The unofficial, unfortunate faces of popular American cinema in “BREAKING DAWN: PART I”.

At the end of “Breaking Dawn: Part I”, I leaned over to my mother and said, “Please, for the love of God, get me out of here before someone spots me.”

I said this not out of some misguided fear for my masculine image, nor social status, or whatever you opt to read into that. But rather, it was my actual pride as a consumer and appreciator of the arts that I wanted to flee that theater. “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part I” is among the most laughable products of entertainment I’ve ever witnessed, comparable to a 5-year old’s stick-figure-dinosaur in its simplicity and ineptitude. Sorry, parents. And sorry to the moviegoers whose $139 million this past weekend further fueled one of the greater follies on American pop culture of the last decade.

Why so harsh, Ryan?

Considering I actually gave the last installment, the surprisingly competent “Eclipse”, a B, why such a drastic U-turn? Simply put, it’s because “Breaking Dawn” is so bad, the ineptitude is not only contained to it, but actually spreads to the first three films in the Twilight canon, two of which were fairly watchable exercises. Yes, friends, “Breaking Dawn” actually retroactively ruins other movies. To critique the acting in this film would be redundant — not when I’ve written reviews of what’s essentially an identical performance for this film’s three predecessors. The leads Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner all seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel and totally phone it in here. I can’t blame them, nor can I say I don’t resent how such little work can still yield so much attention. Stewart is the best of the trio, conveying a feeling that must be difficult as an actor — literally being broken from the inside out, aided by extremely impressive visual-effects work.

This doesn’t answer my question I guess – why so harsh, Ryan?

To answer this question, I direct your attention to the recent conclusion of the “Harry Potter” franchise. “Deathly Hallows”, when put together, comprises a 5-hour epic with massive ambition and scope — but there isn’t a minute in either halves that isn’t dedicated to fleshing out the characters or propelling the story forward. The decision to make it into two films was a prudent one for the story being told. Compare this to “Breaking Dawn”. There’s literally stretches of this film dedicated to glances, ponderous beats, slow-motion shots of garbage cans closing, prolonged sequences of chess-playing. The whole thing is — and this is a word I strive as a critic to avoid — boring.

In “Breaking Dawn: Part I”, vampire Edward and human Bella marry, embark on a honeymoon, have sex, realize that for whatever reason they didn’t employ protection, and face the consequences of a multi-species beast growing in Bella’s stomach. Also, there’s a clan of angry, poorly animated werewolves. How they stretched these events out to 108 minutes still amazes me.

The grand flaw that’s always left “Twilight” behind in one way or another behind rival franchises is its dependency on character-driven moments — be it one-liners, glances, reveals, etc, when the franchise did such a poor job of building their personalities & foundations to begin with. Think about it — “Harry Potter” often achieved absolute hilarity (and at times, heartbreak) because over time you’d become so familiar and responsive to the characters. “Twilight” stumbled with this development right out of the gate, so the moments where it tries to play off our fondness for the characters fails. And that’s really all that “Breaking Dawn: Part I” is — a film built on moments playing off a relationship with the audience that doesn’t exist. D

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