Monday, November 21, 2011

Movie Review: Breaking Dawn Part 1

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*Spoilers: I've tried not to give away any blatant spoilers - not like there are any if you've read the book - but since I describe scenes from the movie, you might want to avoid them if you're wary of spoilers.

I've established a pattern with the Twilight movies. I see each movie on the day it's released. I leave the theater feeling a mixture of happiness and disappointment. Then I take a day or two to process my "grief," as it were, over things the movie omitted or screwed up and watch the film again. The second time, I'm ready to accept the movie for what it is and I love it.

Breaking Dawn broke my Twilight movie trend. It is the first movie of the series that I loved on the first viewing. I was so impressed. Like all the Twilight movies, I don't see this one winning an Oscar any time soon and there were still a few occasions where I was laughing at the movie rather than with it, but overall it was very well done. It's particularly impressive considering that Breaking Dawn is the book in the series that I, like most readers, have the most issues with. In some ways, the movie was easier to handle than the book.

Breaking Dawn is clearly separated into four different acts: Wedding, Honeymoon, Pregnancy, Birth/Death/Transformation/Imprinting. With so much going on, I was impressed with how well paced the film was. It didn't feel as choppy as some of the previous movies. Neither did it drag enough that I felt compelled to look at my watch. Each scene developed the plot enough so that we knew what was happening and then it moved on.

Wedding

A wedding is such a fun, happy time that it's hard to screw up. The movie did a great job showing Alice and Renee's excitement, Charlie's reticence, Rosalie's attempted kindness, and Bella and Edward's nervousness. I did miss the scene from the book where Charlie accused Alice of sticking him with a needle, but you can't have everything.

Edward, being the worrywart that he is, thinks that Bella might change her mind if she knew everything about his past. This leads into a flashback scene of Edward's years as a vigilante, human-drinking vampire - which was omitted from the first film. Very well done flashback. I loved the costumes, the colors, and the suspense of the hunt.

The wedding vows were simple and sweet. Very touching. I loved the toasts. With the exception of Edward's well-spoken words, they were really cheesy. Roll your eyes cheesy. But I laughed at them in the same way that I laugh at bad jokes.

The Dress

Love the dress. It was so simple in the front but had a gorgeous, complicated lace back. It's refreshing to see something other than the ubiquitous strapless gown. I think it looks more elegant than what Stephenie described in the book.

Alice, Rosalie, and Esme's dresses were gorgeous. I loved the twenties influence yet they still managed to look modern and elegant.

My only qualm was that I hated Alice's hair. I'm glad they finally cut her hair as short as I envision it being from the books, but I didn't like the slicked back look. I think pin curls would have been better for the twenties feel. But I suppose that could have looked really bad as well. I'd rather have the spiky look from the books.

The Honeymoon

Perfectly captured the book. Romantic, sexy, and tasteful. Of course the sex scene is one of the main things people were waiting to see. I liked that they pushed the limits of what they could show, but it didn't cross the line into being voyeuristic. Lots of close-ups on Bella's face. It wasn't one of my favorite scenes in the movie because I'm not that into watching other people have sex. Just doesn't do it for me. So my main reactions during the scene were "Geez...I'd kill for Bella's eyelashes" and "Rob has some odd scars/birthmarks on his back."

I think the best - and most real - scene during the Honeymoon was Bella's human moments. It perfectly showed a young girl's nervousness and amusing attempts at primping prior to a big moment with a boy.

The movie also does a good job of showing the aftermath of the sex scene - feathers, destruction, bruises, and how Edward manages to totally kill the mood. Perfect reflection of the novel. I liked how he kept pushing Bella to do anything other than sex. Especially chess.

Pregnancy

The pregnancy portion of the movie follows the book pretty well. We see a lot from Jacob's perspective, although not as much as was in the book. That's fine with me. I'm happy with less Jacob.

What stood out to me here was emaciated Bella. Wow, she looked horrible. I wonder how they did it. She looked like she was starving to death. It was very disturbing.

Rob did a good job expressing how upset and scared Edward was. It was some of his best acting in the series. It was interesting seeing the change in his personality as the fetus evolved into a baby in his eyes.

Birth/Death/Transformation

Very gory. They pushed the limit on PG-13 even more here than in the sex scenes, it seemed. I had to look away. Kristen does a great job at playing someone who is in unimaginable pain and then someone who is essentially dead. Rob also did a great job at portraying Edward's anguish. Like the emaciated Bella, this scene was not only graphic, it was very disturbing. But in the way that it should have been. They did a great job translating this from book to film.

I loved how the transformation was portrayed. It is something that is very hard to convey, but I think how they did it made a lot of sense. The only problem I saw with it was that I didn't think it fully conveyed how much pain Bella was in - although it did a little. I also liked seeing Bella's physical change - how her body fills out and her hair changes. I'm excited to see the full transformation in the next movie.

Imprinting

Jacob's imprinting is a hard concept to come to terms with, in the book or the movie. I thought the movie did the best it could at showing it. I liked the set up throughout the movie - to explain what imprinting is and to get the idea across that it is not purely sexual. The film didn't do this perfectly, but neither does the book. The viewer (or reader) still has to take a leap of faith in assuming that Jacob doesn't really feel that way about a baby.

I can't decide whether the actual moment of imprinting was done well. It obviously made sense to me. It probably would make sense to a non-reader, but I'm not sure. They announced it just to be clear.

Fight Scenes

There are a couple of fight scenes between the Cullens and the wolves that weren't in the book. I loved them. These are things that didn't happen, but are entirely in line with what could have happened. It makes for some great action and allows the Cullens to show off their skills.

What Didn't Work

There are always some moments in the Twilight movies that are dumb, but only two things really stick out to me as being bad:

1) The wolf voice-overs: I get that it's hard to show the wolfpack conversing while in canine form. They did it by having voice-overs as the camera focused on a wolf's face. By itself, this would be only mildly cheesy, but instead of using the character's normal voice, they transformed each voice into a loud, dark echo. It sounded like the wolves were having a Darth Vader impersonation contest.

2) Carlisle's Costume: Oh. My. Gosh. What were they thinking? It seems like one character in each movie has his or her turn at looking awful and this time it was Carlisle. He looks horrible. To start with, there's the wig. His hair has been fine in the previous films. Couldn't they use the same wig? He looks like he has a bad comb-over. It ages him a dozen years or more. Not only that, but the sweaters they put him in make him look like he's gained twenty pounds. Perhaps Peter did gain a little weight, but it doesn't seem like it from the interviews I've seen him in. I think it was just bad wardrobe choices. The costume designers seem to forget that physically Carlisle is only 23 years old. Since Peter is in his mid 30s, they don't need to go out of their way to make him look even older.

Overall

Despite a few problems, I thought Breaking Dawn Part 1 was a fantastic movie. The best shot, acted, and scripted movie to date. I can hardly wait for Breaking Dawn Part 2!!

Have you seen Breaking Dawn yet? What did you think?

26 comments:

  1. I admit I haven't seen it. Don't toss tomatoes at me. I would rather see Hunger Games. I guess I will watch it in the dollar theaters or video LOL

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  2. I skipped past your post as I didn't want to see any spoilers (yet I have read the books so what is that about lol). I am hoping to get to see it soon.

    Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

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  3. spot. on. love the review. i thought many of the same things. i was laughing in the wolves speaking scene -- darth vader contest to be sure ... perfection description.
    i admit, i threw my coat over my head during the sex stuff...
    and the birthing scene... they weren't kidding. it was awful. she looked like she had an advanced stage eating disorder ... the CGI was incredible.

    plus i loved the "resurrection" scene as i like to call it at the end... it was so beautiful! i agree, it was supposed to be way more pain, but instead it was just a gorgeous transformation. the CGI was really neat.

    overall, yes, cheesy in some parts... but it was good. i want to see it again. too bad you aren't here or we'd go together.

    xooox

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  4. I saw the movie on Saturday, and I have to say that it was better than I expected, but I was disappointed on many factors. What really made me disapponted in the movie is the feeling I got through the movie that the were turning this into a comedy. I spend most of the time laughing (so did my friends and most of the viewers that were there at the same time as me) EVEN IF IT SHOULDN'T HAVE BEEN FUNNY. I liked it for the comedy aspect, but it shouldn't have been like that.

    Am I the only one that felt that way?

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  5. I liked it too. And, I agree with everything you said. It was very well done and I'm excited for part 2 now.

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  6. I've been twice, and loved it! I do have to agree on all of the things you mentioned. Carlisle dressing older than my Grandfather, and the cheesy wolf scenes were my only real problems. (That and Jacob wearing too many clothes ;) )

    The only thing I really didn't care for was the birth scene. I mean, it was well done and I loved that. But having had a c-section? It just gave me goose bumps and gave my scar sympathy pains!

    One last note (Gee, I really should do my own review! *lol* ) After the "Jacob Imprinted" line? I was half expecting Edward to say something cheesy like "Welcome to the family, son." Because of his terribly cheesy expression.

    I also wish there had been some way to show earlier on that Bella was not dead but under transformation.

    */hijack*

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  7. I loved Breaking Dawn part one it was better then all the movies combined I will be reviewing the movie in about two weeks since it just came out and I don't want to spoil it, I love your review on it, best one I've read and laughed about.

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  8. Excellent review! I saw the movie Saturday night and was surprised by how much I liked it. I did wish that the special effects for the wolves were better. I hated the voice over scenes. For not having much going on action wise, I thought this was a very entertaining movie. I want to see the movie again to pay attention to some of the other things you mentioned. I did notice that at times the eye color for the Cullens was darker but that could have been to show that they weren't able to get away and hunt.

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  9. I saw it this weekend...I don't think anyone can truly appreciate the movies unless they have read the books..I could have sat there for another 2 hours watching the rest unfold!!
    Lisa

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  10. I love your review! So detailed! I agree with you about the gory birth/death scene - I looked away a lot during that. So disturbing too when Bella is dead and Edward is pumping her chest, and I had to wonder what the 10 year olds in the audience were thinking at that moment. Here in the UK, the film is a 12A which means that people under 12 can see it but they have to be accompanied by an adult. I'm wondering if it should be a 15 instead, which is the next rating up. Really was very very graphic so I wonder how they got away with that.

    Here's my write-up:
    http://www.lifebetweenpages.net/2011/11/breaking-dawn-part-1-my-after-watching.html

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  11. Great review. I've been hearing it's the best one so far. I'm seeing it this week (hopefully)

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  12. I heard the birth scene is hella gory and horror-esque. I'd totally go see it for that ;) In all honesty though, I love how eloquent and fair your take is on the film, Alison!

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  13. baahahah YES the wolf voice overs were horrible, I made a cringe face but no one could probably tell because i was stuffing my face full of popcorn.
    Is it bad that i think the best acting kristen stewart has done was when she was in pain/dead?

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  14. I just saw the movie. I have to be honest, I haven't read Breaking Dawn yet. I know it's awful of me, but I never picked it up after Eclipse. However, I'm so reading it soon because I loved the movie! I think it's my favorite in the series. And I actually really liked the birth scene. I love how it was all gory.

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  15. Oh thanks for the blow by blow! Maybe I'll go see it. I'm glad you loved it the first time around even though I'm sure you'll see it again! Great review!

    Heather

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  16. Haha! I loved how you said something about the Darth Vader impersonations. Me and my dad both said the same thing. We were like ummm? What in the world was that. The whole running @ meet the wolves thing was nicely done, but the actual conversation...not so much. My mom and had (who havent read the book) were completely confused as to what was even going on. I had to explain it to them when I got out of the movie theatre.

    Then the inprinting. liked the way they did it. Him falling to one knee and all that. it was so cute to me, but my mom and dad....they didnt understand. Especially not my mom. She was all "I thought he loved Bella, he loves both of them now?" "Why does he feel that way about a baby" "Isnt he a pervert now." It took me like an hour to explain, and even then she didnt completely understand. (In her defense, she doesnt understand a lot of movies so it's nothing new.) My dad was the only one to actually get it after a few minutes. He even went on to understand what may happen in the next book when Bella finds out, what it means in the little addition after the credits, and what the baby means. I loved this movie and have already seen it 2 times. Couldnt help myself.

    Oh and the transformation from human to vampire? Wonderfully done. I wanted them to show how much pain she was in, but I also liked the whole hair color change, breastboke reformation, all of it. it was soo cool!!!!

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  18. Last point and then i'm gone. My dad was dying laughing about how quick jacob took his shirt off in the movie. People in the theatre were looking at him like he was crazy. He practically yelled, "Welp! They didnt waste any time in stripping off his clothes did they?" Too funny. It made me laugh though because, well, they didn't. First 30 seconds of the film: poem and then bare chest!

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  19. I loved seeing SM at the wedding. When I saw her there, I cried. It made me so happy for her.

    The imprinting scene was totally creepy. I didn't think they should have done a flash forward. But yeah, I guess they did the best they could.

    I HATED the wolf mind speak. It was weird.

    I was really proud of KStew in this film. She totally own the role of mommy to be and she really put everything into the part. Her transformation from healthy to weak was remarkable.

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  20. Loved your review! I agree with Carlisle. I also felt that everyone in the movie look horrible. Instead of blending in, it like they tried to hard. Still, I did enjoy the movie.

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  21. I completely agree with you with everything! When I saw his back moles/scars, I was thinking, "Thats so random,Mr. Perfect has moles"
    I got shivers when they showed Bella's skinniness esspecially when she was about to get into the bathtub. She was so skinny it looked anorexic.
    The wolf mind speak annoyed me,too. It was kind of creepy.
    Funny moment: When Jacob's shirt came off at the beginning all the girls under the age of like 30 went WOOOO. Including me! It was so freaking hilarious.
    I loved how they tried to balance the comedy and drama of it. I was totally laughing at the chessy wedding parts. But how could they not do when Edward had to get the garter off her thigh!?

    I have to admit, I saw it twice...

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  22. Glad to hear you loved this one upon the first viewing! I probably won't see it until the crowds die down a bit, but I'm excited. Mainly for the pregnancy scene. It sounds like they did a good job making Bella look horrible! The wolf voiceovers sound hilarious.

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  23. I kind of lost my enthusiasm regarding this movie, but seeing these pictures I want to see it too.
    I was such a big fan of these books back then ;))

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