It’s that time of the year again. Yes, it is the holidays, but the flavor of the week right now just so happens to be the third sequel and the first part of the so-called “worldwide phenomenon.” Yet again, the age-old drama of one woman’s love will be tested. First it was necrophilia and then it was bestiality, now comes just about the only taboo subject left uncharted: pedophilia. While this may not directly apply to the main characters, it certainly rears its hilarious head in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1.
When every film in your franchise has a new director, it’s has to be awfully hard to keep a consistent tone. Director Bill Condon’s resume consists of more adult films (Dreamgirls, Kinsey, Gods and Monsters, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh). Parents would gasp if they even thought their tweens were watching at least three of those. What Condon has managed to bring to this installment is a slight sense of maturity. What the series still lacks is a sense of humor. Oh, there are plenty of laughs to be had for sure, but almost all of them are of the unintentional variety. I’m sure largely due to Melissa Rosenberg still not having much to work with from Stephenie Meyer’s novel.
Anyone who doesn’t know an ounce of plot for this has either been living under a rock or is, thankfully for them, completely dismissive of the whole series. We begin with a slight recap from Eclipse as Jacob (Taylor Lautner) checks his invitation at the door to the wedding of Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) on his way to ripping off his shirt in the rain to transform into a wolf to go into hiding from his emotions out in the wilderness. Then we very briefly see some of the wedding prep, where I guess we’re supposed to be reminded that Bella is something of a tomboy as she gets training in high heels from Alice (Ashley Greene).
Now that Bella and Edward are married, they make a pit stop on their way to their honeymoon destination in Rio de Janeiro. Their final destination happens to be a seemingly deserted tropical island chock full of sunshine. Every vampire’s favorite hideaway these days, right? So even though Jacob gave Bella a stern talking to about the dangers of vampire sex, Bella just wants to get it on now that they’re happily married. After a few (literal) headboard breaking, pillow shredding, bruise inducing sex sessions, it’s only after two weeks that Bella realizes she’s missed her period. Or as the critic sitting next to me pointed out, “Of course, she’s late; otherwise, he’d be all over that.”
The new dilemma this time is finally realized as Bella and Edward must come to terms with the pregnancy. How a dead vampire’s sperm still swims, let alone how he gets an erection, is beyond me. Maybe Edward was turned with a hard on and he just hasn’t called a doctor since it’s been way longer than four hours, but I digress. Anyhow, Bella is taken under the wing of the Cullens’ and even Jacob comes to terms with her being one of them now, and everyone must find a way for Bella to have her little bundle of joy, even if it may kill her. I won’t go into spoiler territory, but if you can’t see where this is headed, you just may be the target audience.
There’s been a lot of talk recently about the sex scenes having to be trimmed in order to secure the tween friendly PG-13 rating. However, there’s really just about as much sex in here as anything on TV rated MA. I always thought that was reserved for R-rated deserving programming but apparently so long as you keep the thrusting to a minimum, it’s all good. Yes, the roadrunner effects pop up a few times, but don’t look anywhere near as bad as they did in the first three installments. But props must be given to Condon for his pacing. This is the first Twilight film that didn’t have me checking my watch every five minutes. Seriously, how dead paced are those first three? Sheesh.
Maybe the reason being is just how much funnier this one is than the others. Just you wait until you bare witness to one of the most singlehandedly flat out hilarious things ever committed to celluloid. I won’t give everything away, but let’s just say that the wolf effects are funnier than ever. And as if one wolf doesn’t look bad enough trouncing through the woods alone, wait until you see a whole pack of them… in broad daylight… talking to each other telepathically while howling and snarling. Oh man, just thinking back on this scene has me laughing out loud.
Needless to say, Condon has finally managed to bring a, dare I say, watchable Twilight film that for the first time didn’t leave me despising it upon leaving the theater. It’s still in no way a good movie and from the beginning, the series needed to tread the R-rated waters I’ve been told it embraces in the books. But alas, at least Summit has finally delivered something that actually looks like a film and not two hours of amateur hour. So if anyone is assuming I am giving this film a recommendation, let’s just say that even a polished turd is still a turd. Just because it’s shiny and new doesn’t make it any less of a stinker. But at least this time the men getting dragged along to Breaking Dawn won’t hate themselves the morning after.
Photos courtesy Summit Entertainment