Join Luke McWilliams and Tanya Beukes as they review new to cinema releases;
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Breaking Dawn, Part 1 is the 4th film in the tween romantic fantasy Twilight saga directed by Bill Condon and based on the novel by executive producer Stephenie Meyer.
We meet Jacob (played by Taylor Lautner) when he receives and invitation to Belle Swan and Edward Cullen’s wedding (played by Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson respectively). Following an angst inspired topless werewolf transformation, we are a part of said celebrations. We then travel to a private island off the coast of Brazil for the happy couple's honeymoon, where the two differing species cautiously attempt to consummate their marriage. Soon however, Belle is convinced she is pregnant, something that Vampire husband Edward didn’t even believe was possible, where wackiness ensues…….
The Twilight Saga has always gained the ire of generations X’s, probably to the confusion of current Tweens. Vampires and such fantasy creatures were always served up in straight horror films, with villains showing uncontrollable sexual urges, preying on virginial characters, usually to be slain by the straight-shooting leading man. The Lost Boys is a fantastic movie which first successfully combined the vampire with teenagers: sleeping all day, partying all night, dressing in black leather and sunglasses, and being cool and young forever. We then had Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire, which explained to a generation the reality of being an immortal; forced to live forever, outliving loved ones, forever feeding on blood and never being able to see the sun. That doesn’t stop Christian Slater’s journalist’s pursuit of Rock-God Lestat, who advises Christian’s character of making this choice, complete with sunglasses while taking control of a convertible and playing the Rolling Stone’s Sympathy for the Devil (on a cassette!).
Such was this advancement in vampire lore, that it is not surprising that Gen-X was given Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a play on the last girl staple, Buffy was a sexually confident alpha female, taking the fight to the vampires backyards (albeit grave-yards). Buffy’s escapades and romances were quite comedic, but also surprisingly violent and horrific: characters were killed off, vampires where described as demons and got up to horrible acts, and sometimes even Buffy made serious mistakes, lakes in judgement or complete character changes. After Buffy and fantastic spin-off Angel (a vampire searching for his soul) ended, a slew of popular teenage novels filled the void, and it was only a matter of time for the vampire to rise again.
It may have been a shock and\or a disappointment for lovers of Gen X vampires then, that the re-imagining of the Vampire Lore would be so steeped in Romeo and Juliet romance; where vampires ‘sparkle’ in the overcast day, and werewolves transform from large, hairy wolves to hairless, muscle-bound tweens. Here we have emasculated, non-threatening males turning into creatures of the night, doing battle for the affections of an 18 year old girl, and Buffy she ain’t.
Belle is lead into the warring world of lycans and vampires not due to any sort of oath or life mission to rid the world of evil. Belle is simply following her heart, come-what-may, with extremely traditional and some-may-say sexist ideals. Is Belle a weak-willed woman, simply a pawn in a man’s world as she risks life and limb to be with the man that she loves, or is she a female powerhouse for doing the exact same thing: being strong enough to endure the possibility of death to achieve what her heart desires?
Written from a mormon’s point of view, the Twilight movies explore interspecies chaste love, betrayal, heartbreak and, in Breaking Dawn, Part 1, the pro-choice debate. Yes, the key-target audience is for 18 year olds, but these themes are Shakespearian in their appeal, and the dedication that has been put into telling these stories in a straight, honest delivery to be enjoyed by an audience of any age is to be admired.
With the Twilight Saga film series improving in each installment in regards to direction and production values (including the increasing complexity and brilliance of its CGI SPFX), I give this first part of the Twilight Saga's finale a reserved 3 pangs out of 5.
Check out the movie and its trailer at the International Movie Data Base (IMDb)
Luke McWilliams, December 2011