The marriage of Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), complicated by an unexpected supernatural pregnancy.
Here’s what I wrote about this title in my original theatrical review:
“At this point, there isn’t a lot to be said about the ongoing cinematic adventures of teenager Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and her undead vampire boyfriend, soon to be husband, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). You’ve either fallen under author Stephenie Meyer’s spell or you’ve chosen to sit there quietly and just endure what’s being thrown up there on the screen. There’s little middle ground, not much room to move around in, this treacle-laden bit of melodramatic gothic fantasy hokum not my particular cup of O-negative but it’s getting more difficult for me begrudge those whose it is from enjoying a great big swallow.
All the same, it’s very challenging to look at The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 and not want to laugh. Easily Meyer’s most insane bit of over the top and giddily silly prose, the basic truth is not a heck of a lot happens here. Sure Bella and Edward get married, and yes the supercilious teenage heroine does get pregnant, but as far as plot is concerned there’s just not a lot of there, well, there. The book is page after page of brooding and pouting and worrying and wedding preparations, and when the final moments do indeed come they’re so freakishly out there and idiotic it’s almost stupefying that a person of even subterranean intelligence could have taken them seriously.
Yet much like Warner did with a certain saga about a boy wizard who lived, Summit Entertainment isn’t about to see their cash cow die and have chosen to split Meyer’s final Twilight novel into two parts. Problem is, what was thin on the page is even thinner on the screen, and for all of returning screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg and acclaimed director Bill Condon’s (Gods and Monsters, Kinsey) attempts to add meat to this carcasses bones the simple fact is that nothing of actual consequence takes place at any point during this film’s entire 117 minute running time.
Okay. That’s not exactly fair. Like those episodes of “Angel” where Darla became pregnant with Buffy’s former beau’s baby, the eventual coming of Bella and Edward’s little bundle of joy isn’t without its drama. Stewart does her best to make her character’s decisions resonate and have meaning, and at least this time around her seemingly continual suffering has actual reason behind it (the child is slowly consuming her from the inside). The actual birth itself is beautifully realized, Condon pulling out every stylistic trick in the book doing his best to maintain most of Meyer’s Cronenberg-like bits of sexual insanity but at the same time keeping them safe for a PG-13 audience.
But, it has to be said, for maybe this first time in the series I got the sense even ‘Twi-hards’ were starting to come to the realization just how harebrained all of this overwrought melodrama is. Scenes of Jacob (Taylor Lautner) and his werewolf Native American brethren infighting over the coming supernatural birth are unintentionally hysterical, while climactic fight sequences are as foolish as they are pointless. Sequences of the Cullen’s – mostly Edward, no surprise there – brooding over Bella’s pregnant condition get more and more supercilious as the film progresses, everyone making profound pronouncements of utmost seriousness and import at the drop of a hat.
Yet the basic fact remains that, much like the climactic novel it is based upon, not much actually happens in this first chapter in the Breaking Dawn adventure. For nearly two hours people sit, stare, walk, talk, argue, brood (it’s a trend), worry and make meaningless statements about the fates of mother and child. The level of danger is fairly nonexistent as it’s not like the werewolves are going to kill Edward or that Bella will not achieve her ultimate goal (and if you don’t know what said goal is you’re thankfully one of the few who’ve stayed out of the Twilight loop). Sure the last scenes have a kinetic, almost psycho-sexual fury this series has lacked since the beginning but so what? It’s all still in service to a soapy and meaningless story I could care less about, and the fact I still have to sit through a climactic second chapter next summer is about as big a bloodless bummer as any I could imagine.”
This ‘Extended Edition’ of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part I is still pretty darn pointless, I’m not exactly sure eight additional minutes of footage is enough to change my opinion on that front. The first half of Breaking Dawn is arguably the worst movie in the franchise (which, if you think about it, is saying something) even if it does contain some of the battiest and most grotesquely insane moments of the series.
I will say this: I watched both Part I and Part II back-to-back, and as lame as much of this first half is it does work considerably better when latched onto the second installment as it always should have been in the first place. What Summit and Condon should do is not create longer editions of these two films, but instead edit them together into one right about three-hour whole, cutting out about an hour of the most blatantly pointless stuff crafting a streamlined guiltily enjoyable thriller I might, emphasis on might, be able to bring myself to recommend without a guilty conscience.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part I (Extended Edition) is presented on a dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 2.40:1 1080p transfer.
This Blu-ray features an English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack along with a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 track and features optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Those expecting the extras to be carried over from the previous Blu-ray release of the film will be sadly disappointed, as the only extra is the Commentary Track with director Bill Condon, and as good as that is (he tends to sound a bit bored by all he’s supposed to be talking about at times but overall it still manages to be solidly informative) it feels like Twi-hards are being asked to double-dip for a disc not even minutely worthy of their time.
Technically perfect, the extended cut Blu-ray for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part I is an audio and visual marvel. The movie is still pretty darn forgettable, however, and only diehard fans are going to find this disc to be even slightly worth their while.