Sinking Our Teeth Into Twilight, Day 4: Breaking Dawn Part 1
RT spends a week with Edward, Bella, and Jacob to see what the fuss is all about.
Cat: I'm indifferent about this film because as I watched, I was fairly engrossed and not nitpicking (as much), as I've done in the past. At the same time, I'm bothered by the fact it took so long to get to the point. Because of how the book is written, as well as the need to please the fans, there was the filler of a wedding, a honeymoon, and then the sitting and watching of Bella as she deteriorated from the thing growing inside of her. But that last scene was pretty amazing -- when she opened her eyes and we finally got to see not only what she?s been wanting, but what the fans have been looking forward to for near four movies now, I yelled out, YES!
Jeff: I was actually anticipating this one a little -- after straining for epic status over the first three movies, Breaking Dawn - Part 1 allows the Twilight saga to finally start getting down to the business of wrapping things up and bringing the story to its conclusion. Of course, as you pointed out, any time these movies get to choose between building narrative momentum and stalling, they pick the latter, so the bulk of Part 1's running time is spent literally sitting around waiting for something to happen.
C: How great were the wedding speeches? Kudos to whoever gave these last two films some validation by weaving in funny moments here and there. I enjoyed Bella joking with Edward about him not being a virgin as well as Jessica at the wedding. Again, Kendrick's comedic timing with her little quips brings me such joy. It's a shame the appearance of her character has slowly dwindled over the course of these four films.
J: I thought the whole buildup to the wedding was handled pretty well, from the clever last-minute twist in Edward's backstory to the better-late-than-never touch of sensible jitters from Bella to that sweet little moment between her and Charlie before the ceremony. And the ceremony itself includes some of the nicer touches from the series thus far, like the callback to the prom scene when Bella and Edward are standing at the altar, or the shot of the empty pews that (sort of) subtly signifies how they only have eyes for each other. Heck, we even got a nice tender, relaxed moment between Bella and Jacob after the ceremony -- even if it was only used to set up the looming werewolf/vampire war that passes for a subplot in the rest of the film.
C: Frankly, I can't stand how much Bella still needs Jake in her life to feel complete. This was oversaturated throughout the whole film as if she needs him more now that she's married. How is Edward OK with his wife's need for another man? And why are Jacob and Bella talking about the traditional honeymoon she plans to have with Edward -- this is so far removed from how anyone with emotions would react, or what they'd put up with. To top it off, she plans to name her child Edward Jacob if she has a boy. Can someone please shake her?
J: All of this would be fine, I think, if the movies hadn't done such a poor job of filling in the characters. Like any soap opera, Twilight attempts to use melodrama to drive home essential truths about human interaction -- but as any soap writer will tell you, all of that heightened reality rings false if it isn't fueled by believable, identifiable characters, and that's definitely the case with these films. Bella, Edward, and Jacob constantly do things that don't make sense; their motivations are poorly explained or simply ignored, and as a result, there's no context to support the suspension of disbelief that the whole franchise requires. Which is to say that yes, there are a lot of people involved with these movies who deserve a good shaking.
C: A loss of words is all I can say regarding the birthing scene and whatever Edward was doing to get the baby out. How does someone even think of going there? I'm also not sure how I feel about Jake imprinting on an infant. I get that she will grow at an accelerated rate and will probably be 16 by her first birthday, but it's still inappropriate. At this point, I've just learned to go with whatever crazy plot points this franchise throws at me; I almost shouldn't be shocked.
J: Between Jacob's imprinting on the CGI baby and centenarian Edward knocking up his teenage bride, it does seem pretty clear that Stephenie Meyer has a thing for May/December romances, but I've spent this series strenuously avoiding trying to untangle its troublesome sexual subtext, and I'm not about to change course now. As far as the birthing scene goes -- yes, it was revolting. And I know I just promised to avoid the whole sex analysis thing, but let me just point out that it says something very strange about us as a culture when a movie like this goes out of its way to hide the naughty bits but proudly wallows in the kind of stomach-churning stuff Breaking Dawn - Part 1 presents during the birth and its aftermath.
C: As I reach the end of this watching series, I find its conclusion to be bittersweet. I really enjoyed watching these films again, and I'm super pumped to see the last installment. However, it boggles my mind that a female author would write such a manipulative, pushover female lead in this day and age. I'm not sure if it was to show how Bella went from a standoffish teenager to a sort of feisty 18 year old mom; she did become very protective of that fetus. Or was this all a metaphor about coming into one's true self and being comfortable in your own skin, told by way of supernatural themes?
J: I like your last interpretation; in fact, I think it's the only way you can look at these movies and make any kind of case for them being semi-effective. It won't surprise you to hear that I'm not at all pumped to watch Breaking Dawn - Part 2, but I am hoping (probably foolishly, I know) that this is where we'll finally lose all the dawdling exposition and get down to the business of what happens with the Volturi, how things are settled between the Cullen clan and the Quileute tribe, and where we'll leave off with our scowly-faced leading trio.
Written by Jeff Giles and Catherine Pricci