Movie review: Breaking Dawn reviewed by a guy who has never seen a single Twilight movie
I've been a film critic for a decade. I work in a place where I am immersed in pop culture. And I've never, ever seen a "Twilight" movie.
And, no, I haven't read the books, because, um, I'm not a teenage girl? I've even somehow managed to avoid other films with Taylor Lautner, so I only know the legend of how awful his acting can be.
Yet I decided it might be interesting to just dive right in with "Breaking Dawn: Part 1," just to see a) what sense I could make of it without any backstory and b) where the Twi-Hard phenomenon comes from.
For starters, despite the similarity of its title, "Breaking Dawn" is NOT about vampires who run a meth lab. So that's Disappointment #1.
We apparently pick up where the last movie left off, assuming the last movie left off just before a wedding between a chronically over-emotional teenage girl and her brooding vampire beau.
Also, I was glancing down at my notes, but then - alerted by the delighted squeal of the preview audience - I caught a glimpse of a shirtless Taylor Lautner before the opening credits.
So, as I understand it, all the girls of the world are now divided into Team Brooding and Team Shirtless. I think I'm all caught up already.
So, yeah, there's that wedding between Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Pattison). There are flowers and stuff. Girls will probably go nuts for it, and I'm sure there will be real weddings that try to emulate it. Because there's nothing weird and creepy about that …
And then there's this great little montage where a bunch of people toast the happy couple. I'm sure these are all beloved characters to the fans of the series. I used it as a quick way of learning that Anna Kendrick ("Up in the Air") is far and away the most talented actor involved here.
Then Jacob (Lautner), the werewolf corner of this love triangle, shows up. He dances with Bella and shows me why everyone says he's an awful actor. Really, just terrible. And he's wearing a shirt.
Next, Bella and Edward head off on their honeymoon. I am aware of the "Twilight" series as a form of virginity encouragement. If "True Love Waits," then this is the installment when "True Love Gets Down."
OK, so there's some thing where, like, Edward is gonna eventually turn Bella into a vampire, I think. But they decide that first they're going to have some vampire-person intercourse. Because obviously.
I learned two things from these scenes. 1) Vampire sex is apparently rough. 2) This stuff is kinda of inappropriate for the age group at which it's aimed. Like, seriously?
I also learned that apparently vampire semen is extremely potent, because Bella realizes that she's preggers … BEFORE HER HONEYMOON IS OVER!
So, yeah, this stuff is as insanely melodramatic as advertised.
And also, yes, the movie is bad. It has the feel of an overblown Lifetime movie. I suppose the Twi-Hards think the screen is oozing with chemistry. I thought the actors seemed like they were performing their scenes from different time zones.
The film jerks in emotional fits. It's irrational. There's a hokey score, and it seems like every scene is topped off with a pop song meant to push copies of the soundtrack album.
But here's the thing … I totally get it.
This movie - and this series - has adolescent girls squarely in its crosshairs. It could care less what some snarky, bald movie critic has to say about it.
And these girls - and the women who still relate to this part of themselves - clearly eat this stuff up.
I've embraced that "Breaking Dawn" is far more interested in getting "Best Kiss" at the MTV Movie Awards than any, y'know, Oscar nominations.
And, yeah, I have a problem with the fact that a series that makes this much money doesn't put out a better product. See: "Harry Potter."
And, yeah, I really have a problem with some of the insane messages buried in the subtext here.
But you know what? Adolescence is all about irrational emotion coming at you in fits and bursts. Every crush seems grand, all-encompassing and, well, crushing. That weird glow in the way they light Edward? That's what teenage hormones look like. And certainly our teenage lives have their fair share of bad songs in the soundtrack.
Anyone who has a thing for this series is gonna love every awful, soap opera second of this movie. And now I get it.
"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1"