"Breaking Dawn" review: The boring life of vampire lovers

<p> Kristen Stewart, right, and Robert Pattinson are shown in a scene from "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1."</p>

Somehow stripping the few redeemable qualities from the final book in Stephenie?Meyer’s bestselling “Twilight” series, “Breaking Dawn — Part 1” cobbles together a tedious, seemingly never-ending prelude to what we can only hope will be a more entertaining “Part 2,” which releases next November.

The monstrosity that is “Part 1” tells the first half of “Twilight’s” finale: Mortal Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) marry, jet off to a South American honeymoon and promptly decide to screw everything up by getting Bella pregnant with some type of vampire-esque offspring. A?typical day in carnal paradise, no doubt. Oh, and there’s the soul-wrenching (if inevitable) decision by Bella to become undead in the near future.

But what should be some of the two-parter’s most serious and tense moments instead leave you laughing at the sheer ludicrousness of it all. Granted, it’s hard not to laugh when resident hunk Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) loses the shirt within 30 seconds of the movie’s opening. Or when Bella pleads for sex from her vampire husband. Or when Lautner tries to cry. Or when Pattinson tries to smolder. You get the point.

Still, you can’t blame director Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls”) for all the soapy and unintentionally funny drama. In fact, most of that can be attributed to screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg, who replaced the tension and angst of the book with a bloodless banality. The Edward-Bella-Jacob love triangle leaves you both frustrated and apathetic.

And now that we’ve reached the fourth movie in the series, it comes as no surprise that both Pattinson and Lautner still have no personality. Pattinson actually seems dead, or at the very least bored out of his mind. And Lautner proves he possesses only one expression: an incomprehensible squinting.

Stewart did well, however, with her I’m-carrying-a-demon-spawn pregnant mother. It’s grotesque in a fascinating way. The C-section later performed by Edward, though — with his teeth, no less — is simply grotesque.

At its core, “Twilight” is a teenage love triangle with dashes of angst, sparkles and fisticuffs. But there’s the lack of emotion so prevalent in the books (and, to a lesser degree, in the previous movies). There’s angst and unnatural facial expressions, for sure, but there’s no subtext to go with them. Which is unsurprising for a movie about pretty people doing a whole lot of nothing.

It wouldn’t be fair, though, to rant about the failure of “Part 1” without praising the filmography and editing. It really is a beautiful movie, contrasting between stark whites and shocking reds and seamlessly transitioning between absurd scenes.

Normally, splitting a book of “Breaking Dawn’s” length and notoriety would be the more prudent choice, at least from the fan’s perspective. Fans want all of the nuance, all of the lustful stares and backstory. But there’s truly no reason “Part 1” warranted 117 minutes of screen time. In fact, a large chunk of it could have been left on the cutting room floor, and both parts could have been combined into one longer movie. (Yes, given the financial incentives for Summit Entertainment to be able to sell and market two “Twilight” movies instead of one, it’s silly to think that could have happened.)

In the end, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1” will appease its rabid fanbase. And no review, no matter how critical, is going to change that. So here’s to hoping that “Part 2” will pump a little blood into this lifeless finale.

One star out of five.


Dominic Baez is the copy editor/film critic for the East Oregonian. Follow his movie blog, Silver Screening, for the latest trailers, clips and extras at silverscreening.wordpress.com. You can reach him at dbaez@eastoregonian.com.

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