Breaking dawn, beds and bones...5/10
Bill Condon has achieved the seemingly impossible task of filming that which had been deemed 'unfilmable'.
The book ending for Eclipse (with Jacob running away after receiving the invite to Bella & Edward's wedding), which was left out of the Eclipse film, is where we begin this movie. Breaking Dawn Part 1 thankfully takes its time with (most of) the important moments from the book. The preparation for the wedding, the wedding itself (most intricate back of a wedding dress EVER), the honeymoon (complete with leg-shaving!), and everything involving the pregnancy - these sections of the film are the most focused upon. That said, there are some things left out that may upset some fans. Jacob's section of the book? Condensed. Considerably. Hope you weren't expecting to see the stuff involving him going off to look for somebody to imprint on. It's not here. Sadly, one of the parts I liked most about the book (the stuff with Jacob, Seth & Leah) has been vastly shortened. But at least the major points are there. Maybe we could of got more of them instead of that rather pointless fight scene between the Cullens and the wolves?
Regarding the sex scene and birthing scene, which everyone wants to know about: Well, Bella & Edward having bed-breakingly good sex *is* included, but you can sort of tell there have been cuts. The birthing scene fares a bit better. There is more blood in this scene (and a nightmare Bella has early in the film) than the whole of the three previous movies combined. I can see how this would have been trimmed down also, but I think they really did include as much as they possibly could given the rating (here's hoping for an unedited DVD release). It is definitely an intense emotion-charged scene. Clearly giving birth to half-human half-vampire offspring is no picnic. Dawn isn't the only thing breaking in this movie. There's also the breaking of Bella's bones, thanks to the spawn crushing her from the inside out. One thing the movie nails is making Bella look as sickly as possible. She's so skeletal it's disturbing.
Kristen Stewart is put through the wringer in this film. There's a vast array of feelings Bella has to tangle with. And, yes, she *does* smile, though the happy feelings don't last very long. Edward (or 'The Hair' as Jessica calls him) matches Bella in regards to the number of emotions she goes through. He has to carry all this guilt over the one he loves most, and it clearly takes a toll on him emotionally as much as the pregnancy does on Bella physically. Poor Jacob, meanwhile, isn't having any fun either. These three characters deal with so much throughout the film. Stewart, Pattinson and Lautner (with new stubble) all sell it.
Most characters get at least a brief moment to shine. Some Cullens who aren't Edward get a bit more dialogue than usual (Elizabeth Reaser as Esme is probably the most happy about this). I especially liked seeing some conflict between Alice and Rosalie in regards to Bella's child. The wolves have a few brief scenes here and there. I was thankful for more Seth and Leah in particular. And we finally get to hear what werewolf telepathy sounds like. It's definitely chaotic (which makes sense). Billy Burke and Sarah Clarke as Bella's parents get some great moments, both emotional and humorous. Even new characters like the Denali clan get some screen time. Keep an eye on that Irina (Maggie Grace, who manages to do a lot with a little amount of screen time), she'll be important in Part 2. Bella's friends maybe get a line each. Jessica (Anna Kendrick, who still steals every scene she's in) gets the most. She, along with various other characters, add humour. Given how heavy the storyline is in this film, the humor is a much-appreciated relief.
Things do get very dark post-honeymoon. And one must admire Condon for taking on this film and tackling such touchy subjects as: the fact Edward can't be with Bella completely (while she's still human) without causing bruises. Does he let Bella die giving birth to their spawn? Does Jacob remain loyal to his tribe or side with those he has hated for so long in order to protect Bella? And what of the all-important 'imprinting'? Thankfully, we get a look at what Renesmee will look like when she grows to adulthood (which will be when Jacob starts thinking of her in THAT way. So don't get your panties in a twist about it. If you paid attention, you will know how imprinting works and it won't seem as freaky as it initially sounds).
Condon should also be commended for his direction, as his choice of shots add so much to the film. We even get a look inside Bella to see how the venom changes her. The effects on display during her transformation are really something. I also liked that they included flashbacks to the previous films as we hear Bella's Lullaby play.
If you don't like anything to do with the Twilight franchise, then you're not going to change your opinion by this point. Haters will hate. But for those of us who appreciate it, this movie is a fine interpretation of the first half of the book. As well as the choices of music used, something else these films have always done right is remain true to the source material, including (most of) the important dialogue/moments from the books. Things end in a logical place and leave you anxiously awaiting Part 2. And if you stay for a little while after the end credits start, there's an extra scene involving the Volturi.