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Breaking Dawn: Part 1 Review

Rachel Winterbottom isn't wowed, but Twi-hard fans won't be disappointed

Published on November 23rd 2011.

Breaking Dawn: Part 1 Review

AFTER facing wayward vampires and amorous werewolves, newly engaged interspecies couple Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) must now confront their biggest threat yet: teenage pregnancy.  

It is revealing that even though it’s competing against bed breaking sex between the two leads, the most exciting event in the film happens in the last frame. 

After a few years of angst, everything is practically hunky dory in the Twilight Saga. Despite Edward’s pre-wedding confession of murder in the halcyon days of his vampire youth, nothing can dint Bella’s enthusiasm to wed her sparkling beau and join him in unholy matrimony.

Against the, albeit well-meaning, advice from her rabid werewolf admirer Jacob (Taylor Lautner), about her fragile lady parts not being able to withstand Edward’s vampire ardour, Bella is determined to consummate the marriage as a human. Regrettably, her plan to make Edward fulfil his promise of turning her after the honeymoon is thwarted by the unexpected event of her pregnancy.

Showing his age, Edward immediately opts for abortion. Bella, however, believes that she is not going to give birth to a demon child, despite all evidence to the contrary. In its speedy development the half-breed tot is draining Bella, leaving her hair dull and as lifeless as she is likely to be, come the due date.

The good news is that Jacob and Edward finally find something to agree about. Unfortunately for Bella, it’s that her unborn baby is a monster that should be killed. As Bella reaches full term, Jacob’s pack become divided over whether her offspring is a threat to human and wolf-kind alike.

Director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, 2006) takes over from Eclipse director David Slade for both parts of Breaking Dawn and Melissa Rosenberg continues as the series writer. Between them they’ve managed to create the most lacklustre instalment yet.


If the first three films in the Twilight Saga were a campaign for the values of abstinence before marriage, part 1 of the final book in Stephanie Meyer’s series highlights the importance of using protection with your new vampire lover.

Stewart still outperforms her co-stars with her own-brand awkwardness. Fortunately, Pattinson no longer appears to be perpetually nauseous, whereas pecs-on-legs Lautner is still out-acted by his CGI wolf alter-ego.

The rest of the cast are relegated to bit parts. The brilliant (and thankfully breakout star) Anna Kendrick as Jessica makes the most of her role and manages to deliver all of the humour that the film has to offer in her five minutes of screen time. The rest of the comedy is unintentional. Ashley Green’s perky vampire clairvoyant Alice is just as annoying as always with her sporadic yet conveniently timed visions, which are still followed despite their tendency to lead to attempted suicide.

Breaking Dawn part 1 is leading up to the birth of Renesmee (yes, Renesmee), so the film’s biggest problem is that the only threat the couple face is accidental pregnancy. The werewolves’ plot to terminate Bella’s pregnancy post labour is purely perfunctory and easily resolved by a bit of wolf punching.

The other issue is the sharp shift in tone. As per the book, the birthing scene is graphic, bordering on obscene. Twilight is a teen romance. Up until this point, the supernatural elements were purely a backdrop. Throwing in a horror scene at this stage is the equivalent to the doctor in The Human Centipede sitting down for a candlelit dinner with his creation. Much like the majority of the film, only the most ardent Twi-hard will happily stomach this happening, and only because it is faithful to Meyer’s writing.

It is revealing that even though it’s competing against bed breaking sex between the two leads, the most exciting event in the film happens in the last frame. The decision to split the book into two films, while making sense commercially, has resulted in a plotless interlude before what counts for the grand finale in the Twilight-verse.

Rating: 3/10




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Jessica WomersleyNovember 24th 2011.

I hate to say it...but you're right, the last half hour is the only bit worth watching and for that, you will need a strong stomach!

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