The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1

Near as I can figure, the phrase ‘my cup of tea’ was first used in print back in 1932, when Nancy Mitford wrote, in her novel Christmas Pudding, “I’m not at all sure I wouldn’t rather marry Aunt Loudie. She’s even more my cup of tea in many ways.”

Not long after, one would presume, the phrase ‘not my cup of tea’ logically followed.

…which brings us to The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 and to the conundrum that occasionally presents itself to movie critics: How do you review a movie when (A) you clearly aren’t the target audience and (B) when the vast majority of the target audience inherently loves the movie even before they see the first frame?

It’s a thought that ran through my head many times watching Breaking Dawn Part 1. As much as I rolled my eyes, yawned, and chuckled (at non-funny moments), I also realized full well that virtually everyone else in the theater was completely rapt and giddy to the point of distraction. It was clearly their cup of tea.

If you’re a Twilight fan (and why else would you be in the theater, really?) I’ll venture thatBD1 will delight you to no end. If you’re being dragged kicking and screaming into the theater by your friends (or more likely your girlfriend), the best thing I can tell you is that it’s actually the shortest of the four movies; it’s the first to clock in at less than 2 hours.

And that the last 15 minutes are actually a pretty solid, almost white-knuckle, ride.

BD1 opens with the imminent marriage of vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) and human Bella (Kristen Stewart). Jacob (Taylor Lautner) obviously isn’t taking it to well, and Bella’s dad Charlie’s about to lose it, too. The only person (including the bride-to-be) who seems to be enjoying herself is Edward’s adoptive sister Alice (Ashley Greene), who’s taken on the role of wedding coordinator.

The wedding itself is lovely, though it takes longer to get through on screen than your own wedding will (or did) in real life. From there, the happy couple jets off on their Brazilian honeymoon, though it’s the sanitized version; director Bill Condon had to cut much of the ‘good’ stuff to ensure BD1 got a PG-13 rating.

Some other things happen (wolves talk to each other using their best Old Man Winter voices, Jacob mopes, Edward and Bella play a lot of chess), and it’s all set to an über-hipster soundtrack (Noisettes, The Joy Formidable, The Features). And then we get to the final act.

With Bella pregnant with a demon child that’s literally killing her from the inside out, the melodrama reaches a fever pitch, only to be resolved with as exciting a 15 minutes as any so far in the entire series. And it’s here that Condon, the fourth director in as many movies, earns his paycheck. The birth scene is at once heart-wrenching, brutal (though not nearly as bloody as you would expect, given the situation), and fascinating.

It answers questions, it asks new ones, and it pumps some much needed life into the franchise. (And stay tuned for the bonus scene halfway through the credits.)

It might not be enough to make Twilight my cup of tea, but I can certainly begin to see why it is for so many other people.

3/5 stars