Breaking Dawn – Part 1, commercially super-successful and critically panned, was the most anticipated of all the installments in the saga, aside form Part 2. But was it really bad? Let’s review it unbiasedly!

The Good:

Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson’s performances:

OK, to be fair, Stewart’s performance was pitch-perfect. She didn’t overact any scene nor did she underplay the character. Every expression, every movement was what you would expect Book-Bella to do if she were real. Bella’s character is awkward and self-conscious, but in Breaking Dawn, especially Part 2, she becomes less awkward and more open which Stewart portrays well. The birth scene should well-silence her haters. (see video below, pitched to avoid removal)

By the end of the film, you truly feel that Bella has transformed emotionally and psychologically from the young woman we’ve seen in Twilight to a full grownup. Pattinson delivered a good performance too, sounding appropriately sincere in the wedding scenes and convincingly frantic in the birth scene. It would be fair to give Melissa Rosenberg, the screenwriter, applause this time for getting almost all of Bella and Edward’s dialogue right.

The anticipated scenes:

The anticipated scenes were the wedding, the birth and the transformation. Each of them was well-acted, well-written and well-shot. The editing, set design and cinematography were always strong and effective throughout those scenes. The wedding was touching and beautiful as it should be and the bittersweet speeches were good sources of comic relief.

The birth scene was terrifying and unforgettable; I can still remember watching it in the movie theater while sitting on the edge of my seat (until someone sneezed so loudly and the whole theater laughed, ruining the experience). The transformation was better than I expected, but has nothing on the way it’s written in the book. It was bittersweet seeing one of the characters I like and followed throughout all the movies and books broken this way, but apparently all the girls sitting behind me cared about was how good her eye shadow was.

(See clip here)

The production design and the cinematography:

Guillermo Navarro excelled at the cinematography. His imagery was beautiful and full of life, but dark and shocking when necessary. The angles from which he chose to take the close ups on the characters faces were remarkably good. The production design was the best of the Twilight films since Summit decided to finally spend money on the movies. Seeing as most of the film was shot using green screens, the sets were remarkably eye-grabbing and atmospheric, like in the wedding and honeymoon scenes.

The Bad:

Taylor Lautner’s performance:

This was the worst performance in the whole saga. Nothing’s ever been worse. Lautner was fine in New Moon and Eclipse, not perfect, but acceptable, and then he made an awful turn in this film. His acting is full of expressions, he uses the same expressions. He just does faces. He has the happy Jacob face, the sad Jacob face, the bitter Jacob face, etc. If his voice could act on its own accord, it would probably tell him to improve his phrasing and delivery, and give his larynx a good kick in the butt to drop the over-husky and nasal timbre.

The screenplay:

The screenplay has a few, effective problems. It dragged in the first hour, which could’ve been shorter. Some of Lautner’s dialogue had to be erased from the script, if not burnt to the extent that no one can ever get close to figuring out what’s written on the paper. (ex. “I always knew you would kill her” in the birth scene. Leah’s story could’ve been more fleshed out in favor of the downright stupid “This a family scene”. There were many available chances for drama concerning Jacob that were left unseized, like how he leaves the Cullen house, in the book, to try to imprint.

The montages:

Bill Condon’s problem comes here. Not every montage has to sound like a music video. Rock songs placed over dramatic montages isn’t the only effective way of doing an attention-grabbing montage. It worked well for the honeymoon and the sick-looking Bella montages, but then it got repetitive.

The Verdict:

3 out of 5 stars. The film could have been better.

What to expect:

With Breaking Dawn – Part 2 six months away, Condon has a long time to correct the mistakes in Part 1, to be sure to that the film has better pacing, dialogue and score. Personally, I expect a film better than Part 1, with better performances and screenplay.  A different and even more satisfying interpretation of vampire Bella by Stewart.

So, what are you expecting in the Twilight film finale?

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