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Monday, November 28, 2011

Breaking Dawn review: Time to nail the coffin shut on the Twilight Saga

The suits behind the flamboyantly successful Twilight movie franchise —  worth ?1.2??billion and counting — have followed Harry Potter’s lead by splitting the final novel into two.

But whereas the Potter series gained from that decision, the Twilight Saga loses almost all its impetus.

In the Potter stories, extra screen time allowed the leading characters to deepen; the reverse is true here.

Tamed: Robert Pattinson (Edward) and Kristen Stewart (Bella) star in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, in which they marry

Stephenie Meyer’s characters are becoming ever less plausible. And the dialogue in this movie is the most leaden and banal in the series.

And before all you Twilight fans complain that I’m too old to appreciate the movies, check out my review of the first film; I awarded it four stars out of five.

But a rather good original idea has dwindled into self-parody.

This film, a certain box-office hit thanks to the saga’s fanatical following, covers the first half of Meyer’s fourth book.

It starts with the lavish wedding of hot yet cool vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson), aged 108, to feisty yet droopy 18-year-old Bella (Kristen Stewart).

The nuptials are so kitsch they could have been designed by Russell Grant, and take a seemingly endless half-hour.

Anyone not obsessed with hair, make-up and lingerie may find it a near-death experience.

Pregnancy plot: The film speediest pregnancy in history, and an alarmingly gruesome childbirth

Here come the boys: Robert Pattinson (right) and Taylor Lautner (left) at the Breaking Dawn premiere in Barcelona, Spain last night

The inaction moves on to a turgid honeymoon on an island near Rio.

There’s lovemaking so passionless it barely warrants a 12A certificate, accompanied by the world’s weediest pop music.

From there it’s on to the speediest pregnancy in history, and an alarmingly gruesome childbirth.

The film-makers’ coyness about sex is strangely at odds with the grisliness of the Caesarean section, which might well put an impressionable 11-year-old girl off ever giving birth.

The only action comes in the form of a desultory battle towards the end, badly choreographed and featuring unpersuasive computer animation.

During this, the third lead, werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner), has to choose between his own kind and continuing to stalk his emo ex-girlfriend. Tough call.

Film premiere: (Left to right) Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner arriving for the UK premiere of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, at the Westfield Stratford City, Stratford, this week

Co-stars: The three actors all arrived for the premiere in sultry black matching outfits

Teenage girls will probably be less interested in the story than in the earliest point where Mr Lautner rips off his shirt: these film-makers know their audience, and it’s within seconds of the opening.

The movie seems deeply confused as to how vampires procreate.

Now it is the normal human way, whereas earlier in the series vampires continued their line by biting humans.

The writers seem to be changing the rules as they go along.

Poor old Edward is clearly as much in the dark as the audience.

At one point, he goes on a search engine to look up ‘demon children’.

The mystery is why he didn’t go to it a bit earlier and look up ‘birth control’.

Skip the next two paragraphs if you don’t want to read a spoiler, but the climax depends on the notion that a grown-up werewolf can ‘imprint’ upon a baby at birth and make that offspring forever tied sexually to him.

Yes, a werewolf can fall in love with a baby, and vice versa!

The idea is deeply creepy, bordering on paedophile, and completely at odds with the surely much healthier notion that an adult has the right to fall in love with anyone he or she chooses. Maybe even a non-werewolf.

Director Bill Condon has made classy films in the past, notably Gods And Monsters and Kinsey, but he has never shown much sense of humour or feeling for pace or action.

He is ideally unsuited to this material.

His attitude towards the Twilight Saga is reverential. There is none of the intentional comedy that enlivened the first Twilight movie.

The only laughs in this are from the po-faced dialogue, potty plotting and wooden performances. 

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