Many naysayers are referring to this fourth installment of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn as “Breaking Wind.” While the slam is humorous, it’s woefully inaccurate. The film may indeed reek, but its defects shouldn’t be assigned to something as simple as excess gas. Nor should it be called “Breaking Story” … particularly since it doesn’t have one to break. Perhaps a better snipe would be “Breaking Down,” a nod to the fact that this overheated yet pallid love triangle between a girl, a vampire and a wolf deteriorates with each successive chapter. But in the vial-is-half-full department, at least we don’t have to be reminded that many of the characters are undead … not when every line, every scene and every frozen expression emanating from the three leads embodies that very concept.
Want to know more about this snore #4? Think a popular daytime soap opera, in which the long-promised wedding of two central characters has finally arrived. It’s “One Life to Lose,” minutely detailing the nuptials of Kristen Stewart’s Bella and Robert Pattinson’s Edward. We witness such riveting moments as reactions to the wedding invitation, Bella’s trying on high-heeled shoes, Bella’s hairdo and makeup choices, all leading to her achingly-slow schlepp to the altar. Followed by endless toasts, less-than-snappy asides and multiple embraces from well-wishers. Of course, Taylor Lautner’s Jacob is lurking in the forest, ineffectively sulking as usual. Might some story bubble up through the morass of interminable, syrupy pop songs? Nah — instead, we travelogue with the honeymooners through Rio de Janeiro, ending up at a remote Brazilian island home that we’re forced to reside at, as if we’re all under house arrest. But hey, it’s such lovely beachfront property, who are we to expect a plot? That said, maybe something’s hiding inside the chicken that Bella’s cooking up for dinner. After all, she’s picking through the drumstick obviously looking for something …
And then, a-ha!, in the middle of the mind-numbing second act, a Rosemary’s Baby scenario occurs, with Bella suddenly pregnant. The couple rush back to the Cullen estate as the fetus grows faster than, say, Stephenie Meyer’s book sales. Bella’s very life is at stake, with the special effects team credibly depicting her ever-emaciating body as it becomes rapidly depleted by the alien insider. (Um, of course it’s inside her.) Speaking of smart effects, since the CGI wolves can act virtual and literal circles around the actors, it’s probably no accident that after too many halting scenes, the filmmakers turned the cameras on the canis lupus clan, combining their physical actions with human voiceovers. No surprise, these scenes are among the movie’s most watchable.
Perhaps we can get a sense of this anemic work from screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg herself, who states in the production notes: “I’d already done three Twilight movies and I was getting tired … When we first sat down he [director Bill Condon] says, ‘I don’t wanna write this – you’re going to write this.’ I was like ‘Oh, really?’ The one time I want a director to go on and re-write me, he refuses,” laughs Rosenberg. As for Condon, who’s previous work includes the far-superior Dreamgirls, Kinsey, Chicago and Gods and Monsters, perhaps this film’s faint, flat scenes might be attributed to some rogue vampire with a grudge who had unwittingly drained the director of all talent during some crepuscular midnight visit. Before anyone scoffs, note that this is the fourth lackluster film of a blisteringly-profitable series. In other words … anything’s possible.
The movie’s tagline states, “Forever is only the beginning …” After a few minutes of viewing this lifeless pap, we realize that it’s not a slogan at all. It’s a warning.
Rating on a scale of 5 menacing bloodsuckers with a bad Nosfera-’tude: 1
Release date: November 18, 2011
Directed by: Bill Condon
Screenplay by: Melissa Rosenberg
Based on the novel “Breaking Dawn” by: Stephenie Meyer
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Kellan Lutz, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Ashley Greene
Running Time: 117 minutes