When you’re not giggling at the jokes — and this is the first film in this absurdly self-serious series to take itself lightly — you’ll be rolling your eyes at the dull melodramatics, or rolling on the floor at the big doggie debate amongst the digital wolves.
Bill “Dreamgirls/Kinsey” Condon has a budget that original “Twilight” director Catherine Hardwicke would have wept for, but he treats it all as a big joke. And maybe he’s right. Boiled down to its essence and wending its way to a conclusion, Stephenie Meyer’s novels are all about the perils of sex and the evils of abortion — even to save the human momma’s life.
One thing the movies have added is that wish fulfillment fantasy that the sheen of product placement gives “Breaking Dawn.” Bella is marrying well, because let’s face it — the Cullens are the one percent.
“Breaking Dawn” begins with a white wisteria wedding and ends with blood. And in between there’s a lot of discussion of an unplanned pregnancy that all concerned seem to believe is the demon seed. All but Bella, that is.
The tone is flippant through the nuptials — Anna Kendrick gets to toast the couple with how Bella was “totally mesmerized by Edward, or the hair” — and on into the island-off-Rio honeymoon. Kristen Stewart is sort of a bystander to the jokes, and gives Bella a serious case of wedding day terror, enough to make us wonder where the heat is that helps her overcome that fear of vampire sex and vampire conversion. But the heat left this teenaged romance after the first movie.
Edward (Robert Pattinson) is as pretty and soft-spoken and passive as ever. But it’s interesting to see Taylor Lautner, as Jacob, the jilted werewolf who never really had a shot with her, mature into his own. He’s not buying anything Bella says under Edward’s influence.
“You can spout that crap to your bloodsuckers,” he declares. He sees right through it.
I could have gone along with the clowning, the one-liners, the goof on the whole saga that Condon seems to have aimed for. But the movie turns deadly dull after the wedding and never really perks back to life, whatever the “stay tuned for part two” finale promises.
Unless Condon lays off the laughing gas for “Part Two,” even Twi-hards are going to have trouble keeping a straight face through all the snarling, biting, mating and imprinting to come.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for disturbing images, violence, sexuality/partial nudity and some thematic elements
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Ashley Greene
Credits: Directed by Bill Condon, script by Melissa Rosenberg, based on the Stephenie Meyer novel, a summit Entertainment release. Running time: 1: 48