Directed by: Bill Condon
Parental advisory: implied sex, violence, bloody birth
Running time: 117 minutes
Rating: Three stars (four stars for fans)
After what seemed like an eternity spent in adolescent limbo, the Twilight series grows up, sort of, in Breaking Dawn — Part 1.
The fourth film in the series — the first in the two-part final chapter, the second of which will be released a year from now — ties up a lot of loose ends that had been left hanging over the three earlier instalments. And it offers some major plot developments, while leaving room for more.
Not a lot happens in the film, but what does is major. It can be summed up in three words: marriage, sex, and pregnancy. You know, typical vampire-movie fare.
Yes, Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) finally tie the knot. And in true Twilight fashion, their union is treated with plenty of romantic cliches and drawn-out melodrama.
It begins with an invitation. Jacob (Taylor Lautner) receives his and is not amused. The buildup to the big day is shown with ample attention to detail: hair and makeup, breaking in heels, heirlooms passed down — all to a sweeping classical soundtrack.
But not everything is perfect. Previously certain of her feelings, Bella begins to have doubts — and bad dreams — about tying the knot with the undead. Needless to say, she forges ahead.
The wedding is treated with swoon-inducing sensitivity. As Bella prepares to be escorted down the aisle by her father Charlie (Billy Burke), the camera pauses on her nervous face, her hair clip, her neck, her veil, and the intricate design of her dress plunging down her back. Don’t get me started on the kiss.
There are amusing speeches (mercifully edited into a snappy montage), dancing, and just enough dramatic tension (cue Jacob) to let us know that this is not going to be all fun and games. But there is a little fun.
Which brings us to the honeymoon. Edward goes all out, sweeping his bride off to Rio de Janeiro, then to a quiet island where they can be alone.
All is picture-perfect, right down to the nuptial bed that awaits them. After three films of foreplay, Bella and Edward are ready to consummate their love. The results, while far from raunchy, are surprisingly suggestive; let’s just say the earth shakes.
The blissful tone takes a turn in the second half, as director Bill Condon gets a chance to show his dark side. Pregnant with what, no one’s sure, exactly, Bella turns a ghastly shade of pale. The rest of the film is devoted to keeping her alive as the beast within grows, and gets thirsty.
A dutiful action sequence breaks the adult vibe with some cartoonish animated battles with wolves. But when all is said and done, Twilight makes a necessary quantum leap forward, while managing to end on a suspenseful note that neatly sets us up for one more round. Speaking of which, fans are advised to stay in their seats for a mid-credit teaser of what’s in store for next time.