This time next week The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 will be making a killing at the box office, but will Oscar winning writer Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, Gods and Monsters) be able to deliver the franchise with its first critical hit as director?
Here’s a summary of the first batch of reviews and reactions:
According to Movie Exclusive with Part 1 series screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg “makes the split right where it belongs” and Bill Condon “has taken the ‘Twilight’ franchise in a new and exciting direction” which is “easily the most emotionally satisfying of any of the films so far” and leaves “you with bated breath for the concluding film due one year later.” That’s where the glowing praise ends, though.
Screen Daily says Melissa Rosenberg “does a decent job of distilling some of the main conflicts from the 750-page novel” but thinks director Bill Condon is a “subpar director of spatial action”, citing a fight between the wolves and the Cullen clan that ends up being “a jumbled mess with a shrugging emotional impact.”
The Hollywood Reporter thinks splitting Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows into two films was justified given the “massive amount of narrative”, but thinks Breaking Dawn – Part 1 could have been covered in 40 minutes instead of two hours. The reviewer says the movie “feels both bloated and as anemic as Bella herself becomes while enduring her pregnancy.”
Variety says the movie is a “downgrade” from Eclipse action-wise and “two nocturnal wolves-vs.-vamps combat scenes are essentially thrill-free, and so underlit that one is inclined to suspect slapdash CGI”. Bill Condon “takes the reins capably enough” but “his approach suffers from a certain stylistic anonymity that seems endemic to the material.” The review suggests Breaking Dawn would have “benefited from a dash of Cronenbergian body-horror” and “a willingness to push past a PG-13 rating”, but that obviously wasn’t going to happen.
W.L. Swarts describes the acting of the three leads as “honed” but they deliver nothing new as “we’ve seen Kristen Stewart shake and look pained, we’ve seen Robert Pattinson look confused and we’ve seen Taylor Lautner look upset and strong.” The character of Bella also lacks development as she does “not become more sophisticated, more intuitive or more interesting, she is just pregnant.” Despite this Michael Sheen “resurfaces to remind viewers what a dramatic powerhouse he can be” as Volturi leader Aro and there is praise for the soundtrack which “is an actual special effect that helps tell the story”.
Plenty more reviews will be surfacing over the upcoming week, but it looks like it’ll get the same response as the previous films. The fans will love it and it’ll make millions, but critics and regular movie-goers will be left wondering what the hype is all about.