The Twilight franchise gets a bad rap... one that's mostly deserved, but not entirely. The first few installments are a bear to slog through, New Moon taking the cake as a movie that's essentially about waiting around for an off-screen character to return. Amusement park ride lines have more thrills.
But drab production value and dead eye gazes don't pulsate through the veins of every Twilight episode. Chalk it up to the low bar set by its predecessors, but 2011's The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 washes away every bad taste to be not only the best movie of the series, but an absurdly enjoyable movie. Director Bill Condon, of such eclectic films as Kinsey and Dreamgirls, made a departure with Breaking Dawn. Instead of wallowing in the romance and dancing around the supernatural elements of the Twilight world, he drove the film headfirst into them. The result is outright bizarre.
Most people would scoff if you described any Twilight film as a "horror movie," but that's exactly what Breaking Dawn is. A moment early in the film perfectly describes the almost Sam Raimi-like approach Condon takes to portraying Bella's (Kristen Stewart) nerves leading up to her big day. Knowing the choppy pacing of previous Twilight movies (looking at you again, New Moon), it's not surprising when, without warning, you see Bella walking down the aisle towards her hubby-to-be Edward (Robert Pattinson), friends and family gathered around them dressed in pristine whites. It's like a Pinterest wedding board come to life.
Then Bella gets to the alter... and all hell breaks loose. Michael Sheen as Volturi leader Aro pops up out of nowhere behind the loving duo. Bella looks down to see rose petals melting into blood. The red stuff is suddenly dripping from Edward's lips and staining his white suit. A slow pull back with the camera reveals that the two are now standing atop a pile of dead bodies, the bloody remains of the loved ones that stood before them only moments earlier.
Condon plays with the recognizable in Breaking Dawn and completely subverts our expectations. This is an impostor — a dangerous Twilight, an impressionistic Twilight, a demented Twilight. Bella's prophetic vision works as metaphor and a straightforward plot twist in the larger mythology of the movies. Will her marriage cause a ripple effect through the vampire community that will cause the demise of people she treasures? It's a great hook.
In one scene, the director sinks his fangs into a dull, wispy, Bella-esque franchise and brings it back to the dead — and with added, vicious instincts. One only hopes The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 can live up to it.
[Photo Credit: Sony Pictures]
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
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