Movie review: 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1'

Oklahoman Modified: November 21, 2011 at 3:29 pm •  Published: November 18, 2011

Director Bill Condon gives “Twi-hard” fans the extravagant wedding and romantic honeymoon they've been longing to see with “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1.”

Unfortunately, the Oscar winning director fails to deliver true terror or high-stakes drama in the birthing room or on the battlefield in the first of his two-movie finale in the blockbuster film franchise based on Stephenie Meyer's best-selling paranormal romance novels.

Summit Entertainment takes a page from the Harry Potter movies with “Breaking Dawn,” Meyer's 750-page fourth and final book in the saga, which Condon and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg divided into two movies that were filmed at the same time. Although it would be easy to dismiss the split decision as a mere cash grab, Meyer's book provides ample action for two movies, plus a natural breaking point between the two parts.

The first part opens with the big moment the saga's fervent fans have been eagerly awaiting since the book came out in 2008: Human heroine Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) marries her chivalrous vampire fiance Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) in a lavish ceremony that gives face time to all the series' periphery characters, from Bella's high school frenemy Jessica (Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick) and her dad and mom (Billy Burke and Sarah Clarke) to the various members of the Cullen clan and the fellow human blood-eschewing vampires in the Denali coven.

Calling the wedding a “moment” might be an understatement, since Condon spends a solid half-hour on the nuptials. But considering the anticipation among “Twi-hards” and the furor over April's royal wedding, it's hard to fault the filmmakers for milking it.

Hot-tempered werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), Bella's best friend and spurned suitor, shows up at the reception to give his best wishes to the happy couple. But he quickly retracts his blessing and nearly starts a vampire-lycanthrope throwdown when he learns that Bella and Edward are going to attempt to have a typical honeymoon before the bride's transformation into a vampire. Considering Edward's predatory instincts and superhuman strength, Jacob fears a human Bella might not make it through her wedding night in one piece.

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PG-13 1:48 2½ stars

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner.

(Disturbing images, violence, sexuality/partial nudity and some thematic elements)

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