November 18th, 2011 | by KELLY CLARKE Movies & Television |

Bad Baby Belly: Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 Reviewed

breakdawnKristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in a pond - Summit Entertainment
Team Edward/Jacob, Bella and baby make three, but the latest Twilight installment's due date was past WW press deadlines. We got a look at the newborn last night. It wasn't pretty.  

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1

WW Critic's Score: 29

After three tween-baiting movies packed with innumerable shirt-rippings and furrowed brows, the Twilight saga is finally getting to the good stuff. And by good stuff I mean the vampire batshit crazy stuff: rough girl-on-vamp sex, demon babies, blood health tonics and wolf mind links. And yet, with all this delightfully bizarre fodder, much of the fourth movie (otherwise known as “the one where Edward and Bella get married, finally do it and Bella gets impregnated with his vampire baby”) is about as fun as a pelvic exam. 

Director Bill Condon treats every convoluted plot twist and awful bit of dialogue author Stephenie Meyer ever spewed out as serious literature, scoring turgid conversations between the newlyweds with flute Muzak and forcing Taylor Lautner to give stilted speeches about feelings and…stuff. (Luckily, then he tears off his shirt and turns into a wolf.) All three leads—scowl-faced Kristen Stewart, sad alabaster puppet Robert Pattison and Lautner—act as if they were expecting another press junket and wandered on to a movie set by mistake. At times you find yourself silently applauding when any member of the supernatural love triangle manages to produce a genuine emotion, as if this was an extraordinary occurrence in a film. As Breaking Dawn dutifully plods along (bring your B-Movie Bingo Twilight bingo card to check off the series' worn tropes), the best moments again come as bursts of winking humor from the supporting cast unencumbered with explaining crap like werewolf pack law. Especially great: Billy Burke as Bella’s concerned cop dad, and her bitchy frienemy Jessica (the excellent Anna Kendrick), who refers to Edward as “The Hair” in her wedding toast to the mopey couple. 

And yet, it’s not all terrible. Or, to be clear, the last third of the film is so fabulously awkward and silly as to approach camp classic status. As soon as Bella’s belly starts to bruise and bulge the movie morphs into a sort of surreal vampire soap/anti-abortion adGeneral Hospital of the Undead—right down to the full medical exam room with beeping heart monitor plonked down in the middle of the Cullen clan’s Dwell mag-ready forest hideaway. Forced to deal with an insatiable fetus draining her body from the inside out, Bella looks truly chilling. As her due date nears her body is reduced to a skull attached to what looks like a wind chime made of gnawed chicken bones. It’s the only unsettling image the movie franchise has ever produced. 

Even better, the much anticipated birthing scene (a fan favorite during which, true to the book, Edward performs Bella's emergency c-section with his teeth) is a masterpiece of the histrionic and the ridiculous that ends with both Team Edward and Team Jacob artfully covered with smears of blood and womb goo. There's sugary declarations of forever love, starry flashes of light to represent pain and weird squelching sounds to mark every time Edward delivers another bite to Bella’s still warm corpse. It’s the kind of scene that makes you want to invent a drinking game and watch it a half-dozen times on repeat while you laugh uncontrollably and snort whiskey out of your nose. 

“I know how this ends,” teen wolf Jacob Black says to Bella at one point in the film, eying her swollen belly. “And I’m not gonna stick around to watch.” He’s lying. And most of America’s movie-going public will tell themselves the same lie when they trudge out of this bloated, overlong flick. But if the final movie, Breaking Dawn Part 2, is even half the vamp-on-wolf pileup that Part 1 is (and with a storyline that includes vampire children, sudden superpowers and the return of an undead Michael Sheen, how could it not?) we’ll all stick around to rubberneck the end of this celluloid car crash. PG-13.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 opens today nationwide. Find Portland showtimes in WW's movie pages.

 
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