The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 stakes a claim not only for Kristen Stewart’s blossoming into a skillfully pliable actress but also for the surprising emotional maturity of the Twilight franchise as its conclusion looms large on the horizon. Since her first outing as the series’ lovesick heroine, Bella Swan, Stewart has grown leaps and bounds as a screen star. For one thing, her range of expression has widened noticeably, and you are left deeply impressed by her performance in the new film.
As for the movie itself, though a little too slow out the gate, it grows more sure-footed around the half-way mark, culminating with a wave of intrigue and suspense unfamiliar to my Twilight viewing experience. In short, the Bill Condon-directed The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 sort of redeems itself by the time the end credits appear.
I would be the last person to call myself a Twihard; overall, I find the franchise (source material by Stephenie Meyer, screenplays by Melissa Rosenberg) middling at best. Yet, as the conclusion of the series draws closer — The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 arrives next fall — you sense a commendable improvement in the elements, particularly the storytelling and the acting. The material at this stage, it would appear, is allowing the predominantly young cast to tap into previously unexplored reservoirs of feeling in inhabiting their characters.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is teeming with emotional scenes. It comes armed with Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella’s gorgeously staged wedding, their lavish honeymoon getaway in some oriental paradise, and Bella’s subsequent pregnancy that not only threatens to suck the life out of her but also precipitate a dangerous clash between the Cullen vampire clan and the tribe of werewolves. As such, even the usually TNT-calibre tension between hunky werewolf Jacob (His Royal Abness Taylor Lautner) and Edward over Bella takes a backseat to the bigger, more explosive issues that arise.
Condon employs a deliberate pace that frustrates in the beginning but reaps respectable dividends as the plot deepens and the action gains rhythm. In any case, you can say The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is a pretty decent film that ends beautifully and sets up a fascinating premise for next November’s well-anticipated Part 2.