Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
Director: Bill Condon
Running Time: 117 mins
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is an American film and the fourth in the Twilight saga. Following Bella and Edward’s marriage, the Cullens are shocked to discover that Bella is in mortal danger.
This film is adapted from the first half of the final book of the Twilight series. Splitting one book into two is a famously controversial method of generating box office sales, because it often leaves a thin and poorly paced film to sit through. That’s exactly the problem with Breaking Dawn – Part 1. Although its latter half shows promise with an increase in drama, two-thirds of the film is plagued by horribly slow pacing and little story development, while the common problems of the previous three films persist once again.
So, I’m going to explain why this film just doesn’t work first, because it’s the first half of the movie that’s the worst by far. The film starts just before Bella and Edward’s wedding (something which I think would fit better on the end of Eclipse), but then spends a good fifty minutes on the few days leading up to and after the wedding.
For one, fifty minutes (half the film’s entire runtime) is way too long to spend on just one event, and that means that the story feels painfully stationary in the first act. There’s barely a hint of things to come as we watch Bella and Edward meander through a dull and sentimental wedding ceremony, and then an equally pointless honeymoon montage that makes this feel more like a romantic comedy than a fantasy drama, meaning that, as well as being bored sitting through the first half, there’s no reason to get excited about what might happen later.
That issue crops up again in the final twenty minutes or so of the film. After a genuinely decent second act, the finale to this film is hugely disappointing, and leaves you on a pretty low note going into the concluding chapter.
That main problem all comes from the decision to split the one book into two feature-length films. Now, The Hunger Games is another series that did this, and, whilst it drew a lot of criticism from audiences, it at least had some deeper detail to keep the story moving when things got thin. In The Hunger Games, you’re presented with enough extra stories surrounding the main plot focus to keep you interested, and, although it moved slowly, it at least made for an engaging watch.
Breaking Dawn – Part 1, however, doesn’t do that, and with a first fifty minutes that only focusses on Bella and Edward’s new marriage, and then a final twenty minutes that doesn’t add to the big drama of the second act, it’s very difficult to justify splitting the book in two for any other reason than extra profits, which is a real shame to see.
And I say that because there is a period in this film when I was more captivated by the Twilight saga than at any other point over the previous movies. Over the course of about 35 minutes or so, we get a really dark, gritty and genuinely interesting plot twist that fully held my interest for a good chunk of time.
It may be a little ridiculous, and it’s not explained too well, but in terms of providing an engaging and exciting watch, which is what it intended to do there, it was fantastic to see.
Overall, however, that surprisingly strong showing in the middle period couldn’t save this film from the reality of being a poorly paced film with an unacceptably thin story, as well as the average performances that continue to disappoint, so that’s why Breaking Dawn – Part 1 gets a 5.2 from me.