Since 2008, the "Twilight" movies have been one of my favorite annual traditions. Not because of the movies themselves, which are drippy romances with endless lovelorn dialogue, but because of the reactions of the audiences that accompany the films.
The camera's obsession with the actors' looks is painful. Hundreds of girls' obsession with the actors' looks is hilarious. There is no sound in the world quite like a sold-out auditorium squealing over the sight of Robert Pattinson's face or Taylor Lautner's abs.
The storylines and dialogue are downright laughable, but it's such a genuine laughter that it turns out to be a positive reaction. Thus, I leave the films feeling positive.
This chapter, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1," sees human Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) finally marry her vampire boyfriend Edward Cullen (Pattinson). The wedding is a perfect embodiment of everything fans love about the series, from the awkward interaction between humans and vampires to the eerily beautiful woodland setting to the heaps and heaps of love.
Then it's off to the honeymoon on Edward's private island off the coast of Brazil. Of course, the dreamy vampire with diamond-coated skin has a private island with its own villa. But I question his choice of Brazil.
The series to this point has mostly taken place in cold, rainy Washington. The disruption, even for an occasion such as a honeymoon, seems out of place. I guess I'm just conditioned to expect Edward to hate sunlight, even though I don't remember if vampires hate sunlight in this series or not.
The honeymoon is as passionate as fans could hope for. The romance becomes so intense at one point that every piece of furniture in the bedroom gets broken. Bella is bruised in the course of the action, which draws immediate concern from Edward.
She laughs it off as collateral damage and insists that he isn't really doing anything wrong. She wants him to keep doing it. Proponents of the theory that the "Twilight" series is too easy on those who commit domestic abuse have a lot of fuel for their argument here. Also, Bella quickly becomes pregnant.
The pregnancy presents an immediate dilemma. Human women are not meant to carry vampire fetuses, they're too dangerous. Most of the Cullen family insists that the baby will kill Bella, and she needs to have it removed prematurely in order to save her life.
Bella will hear none of it and demands to see the pregnancy through to the end. This puts Edward and his family in danger as well. Vampires have a peace treaty with their werewolf enemies, which is voided if a vampire kills a human. If Bella were to die as a result of the pregnancy, the truce would be broken and the clans would be at war.
Edward looks to an unlikely source for help. Jacob (Lautner) is Bella's jilted former lover, a werewolf who hates vampires and would love a war. But Edward knows that Jacob still has love for Bella and will do whatever it takes to see that nothing bad happens to her. He is first enlisted to try and talk sense into Bella and the other werewolves, he eventually plays a major part in protecting Bella, the Cullens, and the baby.
The final moments of the film are much more intense than anything I expected, proving once again that the danger of vampires and werewolves is nothing compared to childbirth.
I have to hand it to director Bill Condon for putting a surprising amount of edginess into these scenes. At a certain point the film is no longer ironically delicious, it's legitimately powerful.
What we have with "Breaking Dawn Part 1" is a "Twilight" movie that can be enjoyed on the usual silly levels while quietly turning out to be halfway decent otherwise.
The Movie: Two and a Half Stars out of Five.
The Crowd, as always: Five Stars out of Five.
"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1" is rated PG-13 for disturbing images, violence, sexuality/partial nudity, and thematic elements. Its running time is 117 minutes.