About three things I was absolutely positive. First, I was going to review Twilight, once my sworn literary enemy, and now my corrupting creative bedfellow. Second, this review would follow the wonderful Black Dynamite review, the authors of which were manly men who would surely thirst for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably going to do it anyway.
Alright, let me explain. I first encountered Twilight at Comic-Con a few years ago…the summer of 2005 to be exact. You remember the world before 2005, right? No Hannah Montana, no Justin Bieber, and no Twilight.
Someone was handing out hardbound copies of Twilight’s first few chapters. I tried to read the first few pages, but my mind kept wandering on to more important things like my very recent run-in with Lou Ferrigno. I was terribly bored with the whiny and hopelessly average Bella Swan, and I did not care to learn more about this Edward person she couldn’t stop talking about. I tossed the freebie away thinking, “Yeah, like THAT’S going to catch on.”
Cut to a few months later.
“That book?” I asked myself. “The book whose second chapter I never allowed to be graced with the light of day for fear it would sparkle horribly? This can’t be right.” Sure enough, Twilight was everywhere, and friends and family had given themselves over to a book series I only knew as, well…terribly written.
So how am I, the snobbish comic book reader who literally threw away the Twilight I received for free, at a point where I can adequately review Breaking Dawn Part One? It’s simple.
Twilight slowly ate away at my pride.
Well, I didn’t totally cave. I saw the first film on premiere night practically by accident. I happened to have been at the mall the night of and was offered a free ticket. I thought “Let’s see what everyone’s talking about.” I was inspired to read the last book by a Christian youth magazine one of my aunts sent me, of all things. Its cautionary spoiler article was meant to deter young minds from heathen words. It only increased my curiosity, however. Twilight would stop at nothing!
Let me clarify what is shaping up to look like a tale spun from a paranoid Twilight Zone protagonist. I’m not a super-fan, and I won’t defend the series’ most blatant depiction of Bella and Edward’s co-dependent and emotionally abusive relationship. It’s now a casual guilty pleasure, bordering on a source of self-torture I use to remind myself of the good movies I love so dearly.
After all of that back-story I’m sorry to say the Twilight books are still as poorly written as ever, and the movies one by one have improved at a snail’s pace over the years. Why do I continue to indulge? That’s like asking people why they watch reality TV: It’s so bad it’s kinda good.
Here is my wordy bullet list guide to the “so bad it’s good” of Breaking Dawn:
- Breaking Dawn could be a nice date movie, if only Bella and Edward’s love connection wasn’t as repulsively saccharine as it is a glaring example of what NOT to do. Ladies, don’t get married to your first love at age 18 no matter how nice their ice-cold hands feel on your (face) cheek. Guys, if the one you’ve pledged your life to needs you, don’t retreat into melancholy, withholding support and hoping things will work out. (What makes it good: Being able to criticize fictional characters who can’t hear you.)
- Breaking Dawn could be a creative adaptation of a novel, if only it wasn’t split into two only-for-money parts that pander to the super-fan’s desire to see every single plot point re-enacted. This means the film relies heavily on the original novels’ dialogue style, which happens to be a tepid blend of attempted cleverness and superficial declarations of feeling. The obvious is pointed out more than once, and there is a lot of valuable time wasted. Rifftrax said it best: “It’s Small Talk: The Motion Picture!” (What makes it good: Watching actors struggle to give life to mediocre words is just plain funny. Remember that Alec Baldwin SNL sketch about soap operas?)
***DISCLAIMER: Though this film is not terribly subtle nor is it especially artsy (“visually striking” for you Netflix connoisseurs), it is relatively more experimental than the last three. The director manages to adequately communicate Bella’s inner feelings without dialogue, and the special effects depicting her slowly dwindling physical frame are done rather well. Some parts actually had me pleasantly surprised with their refinement.***
- Breaking Dawn could be a full technical step up from the previous films, if only the vampire makeup would stop being so obvious and therefore cheesy. I really wish the makeup artist would just take the extra time to put some more white makeup on important places like ears, the inner eyelid, and the neck. It’s downright distracting. (What makes it good: …)
- Finally, Breaking Dawn could be a thrilling challenge in the field of acting, what with the torrid narrative that takes the main characters to the end of their ropes and back. Some crazy stuff happens in this movie. If you want to see some messed up stuff, go see what happens in this movie. This potential is again wasted on some of the driest, saddest acting I have beheld in a while. My repeated attempts to give Kristen Stewart a chance to prove herself have been continually thrown back in my face. A dark place in my soul has been opened, filled with jaded longing for her untimely demise. (What makes it good: The Kristen Stewart School of Acting can be laughed at after a simple 36-step program.)
The silver lining?
Breaking Dawn doesn’t take itself totally seriously, which is great. When it is serious it is laughably so (much like the pretentious diction of this very review). I have been to a Twilight premiere or two. Most of the casual moviegoers and hardcore fans alike laugh at even the most serious bits, simply relishing the drama, the escape, and the silliness. For those things, Twilight is the film to see. I don’t usually enjoy fantastical romance and terrible dialogue, but when I have a hankering I know where to go. I recommend Breaking Dawn Part One for the laughs, intended and not, as well as the cray-cray plot.
I won’t judge anyone for accepting my recommendation nor for turning it down. By a strange series of run-ins and moments of weakness I have come to carve a special place in my heart for the dysfunction and gracelessness that is Twilight. If you continue to be neutral, I applaud your strength. If you’re a Twilight basher keep on bashing-You have every right. I sincerely hope, however, that Twilight becomes one more thing to brighten your life even if it’s for strictly analytical purposes, for pure fun, or for some Kate-Humphrey-esque cinematic masochism.
Did you see Breaking Dawn Part One? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!