Lionsgate // 2011 // 124 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dawn Hunt // March 18th, 2013
Forever Is Only The Beginning.
Picking up right where The Twilight Saga: Eclipse left off, it's time for Bella (Kristin Stewart, Snow White and the Huntsman) and Edward's (Robert Pattison, Bel Ami) wedding. Not everyone is happy about it, especially Jake (Taylor Lautner, Abduction), but losing Bella to Edward is the least of anyone's problems when the honeymoon changes everything and may lead to a war between the Cullens and the Quileute.
The Twilight Saga is fan service, plain and simple. Is The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 the best movie out there? No. Is it the best movie possible culled from the source material? Absolutely not. But it is exactly the movie fans want it to be.
Twilight bashing is easy to do and it's already been done, so I'm going to change tact.
One of the things The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 does well is to bring back Billy Burke (Revolution) as Bella's dad. Though he is only in a handful of scenes, he's pitch perfect in each, providing comic relief at points but also hitting the despondent notes of a father who's lost his daughter.
Another thing to appreciate is the music. Carter Burwell's (Seven Psychopaths) score, as well some well-placed pop songs to punctuate certain beats, is quite effective. Longtime Twihards will be pleased at the inclusion of "Flightless Bird, American Mouth" from the original film.
The film also provides a counterargument to prevailing trends in pop culture. Lord knows I've heard how Bella Swan is a terrible role model for girls, but I do think there are some good aspects to her character, brought out specifically in these final two films. One is the idea of waiting to have sex until you're in a committed relationship. The other is the notion that becoming a mother means being willing to endure situations that make you uncomfortable, provided they result in some benefit to your kid, and ultimately being willing to die for your child.
We live in an age where there is no thought to the consequences of anything. With limited attention spans, kids are focused on the now. What can they get and how fast? Today, kids are becoming parents at an alarming rate. Pop culture propagates the notion that being in love is the same as having sex. These kids are becoming stage parents and pageant parents and reality-TV juggernauts, all at the cost of their families.
I find it refreshing that The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 offers an alternative viewpoint. Is it a heavy-handed one? No doubt. But trying to retain some shred of innocence for young viewers isn't a bad thing. Instilling the notion that waiting for something is good, and there are consequences to your choices is even better.
And let's remember that 99.9% of us who review movies are not the target audience for The Twilight Saga. Yes, it's possible to make a movie which speaks to many different audiences based on a beloved book series (see Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings), but The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 is not interested in doing that. None of these movies have been interested in doing that. They may be the most cynical films ever made, created solely to service an audience of non-cinephile tweens who just want to see the book they love on screen. That's it. They aren't interested in depth of character left unexplored or expanding upon what's on the page. They just want the book. And that's exactly what they've been given.
Do they deserve more? Does there exist a way to give them a better movie, one they may not even know they were craving until they see it? Yes, but the bottom line here is money. The studios knew they could get away with putting The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 out into the world and they would reap the benefits. Do they care about it getting panned? Not at all. All press is good press, and really, how many Twihards took the time to read reviews before seeing any of these films, let alone purchasing a copy? The Twilight Saga is the reason pre-release and pre-purchase options were invented.
The final thing The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 does well is that it's beautiful to look at. Though the make-up may still rub some the wrong way, the cinematography won't. DP Guillermo Navarro (Pacific Rim), supervising art director Troy Sizemore (Clash of the Titans), and set decorator David Schlesinger (Going the Distance) certainly didn't skimp, as the set pieces are beautiful, especially Bella and Edward's wedding. The palette could be the same washed-out grey of The Forks' weather, instead it's subdued when it needs to be and nicely saturated when called for, as during Bella's transformation scene. The 2:40:1/1080p high def transfer is the best possible image available. The audio is an impressive DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio track, supporting the orchestration beautifully. But perhaps it's most appreciated through the sound effects, which are able to truly fill the space instead of sounding as if they are operating on their own. Whatever else you want to say about The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 (Blu-ray) Extended Edition you won't have a technical complaint.
Bonus features include extended and theatrical cuts of the film, and a director's commentary which only the most diehard Twihards dare listen to,as none of the stars are on it. Also included are digital and Ultraviolet copies of the film.
It's not necessary to purchase The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (Blu-ray) Extended Edition. While this does offer better image quality, you will find when a studio doesn't bother to port over all the extras from the previous releases it's a cynical cash grab. From what I can tell, missing are music videos, Bella & Edward's wedding video, and a look at Jacob's future. Twihards are going to buy the complete saga release anyway, so save your money.
Guilty of being exactly what it set out to be.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 7.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 124 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Theatrical Version
* Digital Copy
* UltraViolet Download
* Official Site