"The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (Two-Disc Special Edition)" ends dramatically with Bella (Kristen Stewart) accepting Edward's (Rob Pattinson) engagement ring along with a promise to wax eternally immortal with him before she adds any more visible years to her already painfully virginal and vaguely melancholic eighteen. As a heroine for the early 2000's, Bella epitomizes the sorrow and confusion of a generation that is well familiar with the breakdown of the traditional family, could Google whatever they think they need to know about just about anything on the Internet and questions their parents' attitudes about being able to do it all, 24-7, without flipping out or being under the care of a permanent life-therapist. No wonder she opts to join a well appointed, financially secure vampire pride--why contemplate an uncertain future when you can live forever off the spoils of family money, never worry about employment, career or heath care? Why not pledge to be faithful through sickness and in health when the only illness encountered will be an occasional thirst for Type O or Type A? Sure, the Volturi could swoop down, either twist some necks or peck their hungry beaks into still-human family members, but hey, that's what being ultimately "connected" really means--especially when you have a pack of huge wolves and infinitely strong bloodsuckers as your front and rear guard. Director Bill Condon understands Bella's choice. He opens "Breaking Dawn: Part 1" with our about-to-become-a-vampiress BFF tottering on wedding-white high-heeled stilettos (she switches them out for tennis shoes to still relate to the klutz-contingency in the audience) to ascertain that Bella is still on pretty shaky ground despite the promise to live happily ever after.
"Dawn" has its moments of action-packed excitement, filmed in the gloaming under the light of a seemingly faraway full moon that barely illuminates snarling computer-generated wolves battling for alpha supremacy or attacking the hungry Cullen clan intent on protecting Bella for what seems like a breach in the famous Northwest wolf-vampire treaty. However, the main thrust of this installment is not driven by the rivalry between Edward and Jacob (Taylor Lautner) anymore--Edward, after all has won his fair maiden and seems prepared for such a life altering maturity even his randomly skewed hair has settled down to a smoother domestic bliss despite the film's major predicament--this Twilight chapter is re-dedicated to Bella who like a fractured-fairytale Sleeping Beauty finally awakens to her true desire and tells the rest of the 21st century world to virtually blow itself to oblivion.
Stewart plays the role comfortably with as much vulnerability and sensitivity as she admirably did in "Speak." The other characters dance to her tune--most notably showing growth is Lautner, who despite moments of un-shirtedness and glimpses of taut muscle seems more believably angry and sarcastic rather than just a beefcake spouting lines of unemotional dialogue.
As "Dawn" includes sensitively handled marital consummation (Edward demonically destroys the bed) and some pretty horrific vampire-birthing sequences, parents should see the film ahead of time to see if it meets with their standards and those that they wish to teach their pre-teens. With that in mind, understand that the overall tone of the film wafts with the same melancholy as the other three previous installments--post-honeymoon Bella spends the rest of the film looking gaunt and drained as she stubbornly sticks to her moral guns and her "baby" sucks away at her life's blood.
The concept of "imprinting" is reintroduced to the audience but is not explained as fully as it can be. Perhaps a flashback of the Sam, Leah and Emily episode would explain Jacob's future experience at the end of the film with more clarity for those who have not read the novels.
The return of Carter Burwell's moody music--most notably the lyrical "Bella's Lullaby" --underlines Bella's journey from girl to woman especially in the climatic montage, in the psychologically-fueled nightmares prior to the wedding and the dreamy honeymoon sequences replete with moonlight and pillow feathers.
Bottom Line? Director Bill Condon does author Stephanie Meyer's "Breaking Dawn" justice in this the first of a one-two punch conclusion of the Twilight Saga films. In this Bella, Jacob and the Cullens ward off the werewolves and biology, quick thinking and genetics does the rest. "Dawn" is just an ordinary episode in the life of anti-heroine Bella Swan Cullen who totters into marriage and motherhood while philosophically eschewing her prolonged 21st century identity angst. No fans of the series will be disappointed--however this reviewer recommends seeing the first three films first. Recommended. Diana Faillace Von Behren "reneofc"
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Diana Faillace Von Behren (reneofc)
I like just about anything. My curiosity tends to be insatiable--I love the "finding out" and the "ah-ha" moments. Usually I review a book or film with the … more
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