The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
Let’s face it: the "Twilight" movies have all been pretty unfortunate, dipping into trite dialogue when they’re not bathing indiscriminately in melodrama. But where Katherine Hardwicke attempted to take Stephanie Meyer’s teenage refuse seriously in the first film, Chris Weitz and David Slade at least had the marketing intellect to skew the intervening films toward action-adventure and Taylor Lautner’s pectorals. In this way, they evaded the worst of Meyer’s mushy literary histrionics - although it was impossible to steer entirely clear of such banal one-liners as Robert Pattinson’s "You give me everything just by breathing" and Kristen Stewart’s "Death is peaceful, easy. Life is harder."
Of course, we also got Lautner’s "Relax Bella, you’ll warm up soon. Faster if you take your clothes off."
Unfortunately, Bill Condon ("Dreamgirls") seems to be unable to decide if "Breaking Dawn" is a comedy or a cloying, distended melodrama. It starts out the former, as Bella (Stewart) and Edward (Pattinson) enjoy a prolonged wedding that’s overshadowed by wisteria and a number of comic toasts along the lines of Bella’s dad (Billy Burke) implicitly threatening the groom with his familiarity with weapons. But there’s no conflict in this segment; although that’s not unusual for lackluster writer Melissa Rosenberg, who has seminally penned increasingly feckless scripts for the series, it makes for an incredibly sleepy first half hour - unless you’re a girl of thirteen who has re-read the book monthly. The best Condon and Rosenberg can devise is a lightweight confrontation between Bella, Edward and hottie wolfboy Jake (Lautner), during which Jake gets sort of upset about the thought of Edward taking Bella to bed prior to his converting her to a vampire (although he’s really just jealous that he’s not the one tapping that).
Somehow - and you don’t really get to understand how - Jake’s fears are grounded, and an equally-extended honeymoon sex-but-only-the-really-pretty-kind sequence ends in rapid impregnation of Bella of what may or may not be some sort of demon. Bummer, dude. Evidently Meyer’s vampires are über-Catholic; they don’t believe in contraception.
By the way, Meyer also spurns abortion, so of course Bella - who in prior movies deliberately defied all the rules - suddenly wants to have the baby who’s growing at such a pace it threatens to kill her before she can Lamaze it out of her distended uterus. That gets everyone upset, including all the other supernatural beings bloodlessly hunting their way through the wooded terrain north of Seattle - which sets up a central conflict that’ll produce about as much adrenaline as a warm cup of tea, an oversized chair and a crackling fire. Buckle up, kids: it’s the kiddie-coaster from hell, Twi-hard style.
Along the way, we are treated to snappy dialogue like "You can spout that crap to your bloodsuckers, but I’m not buying it" and the inadvertent laugh riot that is a heated voiceover debate amongst digital doggies smacking more of "Air Buddies" than "Interview With a Vampire."
I have no idea what happens in the last part of "Breaking Dawn," which blissfully we won’t have to suffer until late in 2012. Perhaps Taylor Lautner will go shirtless for more than a brief opening sequence. Perhaps Condon will watch the "Harry Potter" movies and learn how to make adult films out of kiddie novels. Perhaps Michael Sheen and Dakota Fanning will come back and delight us with some serious bloodletting - maybe they’ll even drain Edward and Bella in an over-the-top carnal massacre prior to which they manually pluck Edward’s three chest hairs and force Bella to either "lighten up or die."
Probably not. But if I’m going to be bored to sleep, I might as well dream.