Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1

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Dir: Bill Condon (Dreamgirls)
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Nikki Reed, Kellen Lutz, Peter Facinelli, Elisabeth Reaser, Jackson Rathbone, Ashley Greene, Booboo Stewart, Julia Jones Sarah Clarke
USA, 2011

Seen: November 19, 2011 at Scotiabank in AVX

Reason to see: It's on my list of Most Anticipated Films of 2011 (#26)

My journey with the Twilight films & books has been an interesting one. I first read both Twilight & New Moon and then headed into see the first film, Twilight which follows the romance between the protagonist Bella (Kristen Stewart) and vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson), and I ate it up. I'm no romantic, but I loved the film. I loved it so much that I have co-hosted Before the Dawn: A Twilight Podcast since 2009 when Twilight came out on DVD. But later that year I was heavily disappointed in the film New Moon, which is my favourite of the books as it chronicles the relationships that develops between a saddened Bella and her buddy Jacob (Taylor Lautner), but the film is a very direct translation of the book which tried to cram every moment and nuance and in the process lost a lot of the heart, essence and artistry created with the more interpretive Twilight. With the third film Eclipse, we come to a very direct love triangle between our characters along with having the biggest action-y scenes in the series until that point, and although I enjoyed it, I wasn't blown away. I think I mostly was relieved it wasn't awful, but I was disheartened as I felt it played up the action in hopes of gaining a broader audience, which honestly isn't very necessary considering it's already has a huge audience. So, going into Breaking Dawn: Part 1 I wasn't all that jazzed. It's my least favourite of the books and certainly got my feminist core miffed. But, it was still on my Most Anticipated Films of 2011 list (#26) and I knew I would see it. And hell, it's a female-protagonist vampire film, of course I'm would to see it!

So The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1 picks up where Eclipse left off and follows the continuing romance between human Bella and vampire Edward, and although their relationship is very unconventional it's still very conservative so to keep the heat increasing we have to make things all above board which means we have to have a wedding. I actually was quite looking forward to this in the film, and it was one of my favourite moments of the film with the great combination of awkwardness and beauty that the series is so great at bringing together in a humorous and real way. It's also one of the few times we get to see the humans in the film, including the awesome Billy Burke who reprises his role as Bella's father Charlie - I find him to be a stand out in each and every one of the films. I thought that the wedding might be the only part of the film I enjoyed, but as the story progressed I realized I was still enjoying it. I enjoyed the authentic translation from the book, the nods to the earlier films, the continuing development of Bella & Edwards relationships - bumps and all. I also realized that this section of the saga really is about Bella and her building maturity and how much of that is her choice which honestly, feels like a something that's depicted in film in a positive light. I'll admit that this story certainly has complications, but I do always feel like Bella does what she wants and stand her ground very strong, often with little or no support. It also continues to tackle the interesting question in the series about the power of choice.

It's wild that going into the film I didn't even really consider that I might end up liking it, but in the end I ending up really enjoying it and would place it as a 2nd favourite after Twilight. I also didn't know how it would fair being a Part 1 of 2 and didn't really think the book warranted 2 parts but after seeing Breaking Dawn: Part 1 I'm completely content with the decision. The pacing was great, the story didn't feel rushed and I felt like it had everything it needed to convey it's message and the emotions behind it. Breaking Dawn: Part 1 returns to the roots and the sweetness of the original Twilight, stays true to the book and also provides and powerful, emotional journey. A journey that I'll happily continue to see unfold in Part 2 which will be released in November 2012.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected
I'm already looking forward to seeing it again
I'd strongly recommend it to people interested in female-protagonist & coming of age films and of course, to all Twi-Fans

Also see: All 2011 Films Reviewed, Most Anticipated Films of 2011 and 2011 Book to Film Adaptations

© Shannon Ridler, 2011

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