The 33rd Best Movie I Saw This Year: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Pt. 1

There’s something I’d like to note before I dig into this movie: 

This review is not about to be a positive one. But I'm not taking shots at a huge movie simply because it's cool to not like it. I have no bone to pick with the Twilight series. It’s a very popular teen girl franchise, and while it certainly doesn’t look like anything that I would particularly care for, that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily bad. I don’t have any opinion about My Little Pony, or ‘A.N.T. Farm’ – they don’t seem like things I would enjoy. So I skip over them without comment. I’m happy to do so, because it gives me cause to ignore other people’s dislike of things that I enjoy. Don’t “get” ‘Community’? Eh, it’s not for everyone. Don’t like Doug Benson? He’s a different sort of a comedian, sure. Not a Star Wars guy? Not everybody is. This is how the world works. We are given free rein to make our own decisions, and the steady diversification of the entertainment options available means that there’s more books and movies and music and TV shows than ever that fit your specific tastes. It’s a wonderful time to be part of popular culture, and it’s only getting better as it goes.

So if there’s a giant film franchise out there that features mournful vampires and six-packed werewolves and lots of lip-biting, great. People who like that sort of thing are in heaven. And no one’s forcing me to go.

Except this time, someone forced me to go.

I got dragged to the theater on Thanksgiving by a friend, and once there, we saw the movie playing on the nearest showtime (though he did seem to be angling hard towards seeing this film while pretending he wasn't). So we went, three guys in their twenties at a late showing of a Twilight movie.

Now, I have not read these books. Not even skimmed them. Through the osmosis of living in our current society, I have absorbed some of the plot and subtext, but most of it is hazy to me. And that’s why I can tell you that if you're in the same boat I was, this movie is not for you.

It’s for people who’ve read the books, who love the books, who wanted to see the books come to life, just as they read them. It’s just for those people. And that’s fine. Not everything has to be Lord of the Rings  or Harry Potter, where the films stand fully on their own. Some things are just for the fans.

But even with all of that, Breaking Dawn Pt. 1 is still a pretty lousy movie.

The first half of the movie is wedding. And that’s it. The bride puts on a dress, comes down the aisle, they say vows, there’s dancing and cake, and later they drive off in a car. There’s no plot. It’s the world’s most beautiful and least-important wedding video, after Kim Kardashian’s (topical burn!).

In the second half (spoiler alert!) it’s only slightly less boring (end spoilers). The happy couple has a mournful – because everything is mournful – honeymoon. They play some slow, sexy chess, like honeymooners do. They have out of focus PG-13 sex. And then Kristen Stewart ends up with a demon baby inside her, and that’s when things really get slightly less boring.

They come home. Stewart gets paler and angstier and skinnier, except for the lump from the demon baby. They debate the wisdom of a vampire abortion (been there). The werewolves have some angry wolf-meetings where the digital wolves are all barking at each other, and the lines are voiced over the top, and it is hilarious. Then it finishes with the exact same final shot as Avatar, and then the movie’s mercifully over.

I’ve been defensive about Kristen Stewart before, because I think she’s a solid actress with a very limited range, and she needs to be put in the right position to succeed in order to really shine. She’s perfect as the secretly frail cool girl in Adventureland, and interesting as Joan Jett in The Runaways, and utterly lost here. A huge portion of these movies is being able to see what’s going on in her mind through Bella’s facial expressions, and that’s simply not Stewart’s strength.

Of course, she could be much worse. She could be Taylor Lautner.