Before I start this review, I’ll state that I haven’t been a fan of this film series since I saw the first film. That initial viewing was a huge let down and I didn’t understand the hype, and the more I thought about it the more I began to really detest the deep seeded messages it had. I tried unsuccessfully to read the first book (figuring maybe I had missed something) but it was so poorly written and down right an insult to literature I wasn’t able to finish it. I have never understood its appeal (don’t give me I am not the intended audience argument, I like and enjoy a lot of things that aren’t targeted at me); it feels like a horrible role model to young girls with bad life lessons. The films seemed to get progressively worse, and as time went on I just started to feel in indifferent towards it. Now we have Part 1 of the final installment, so where does that leave us now? In all honesty I didn’t hate the film but I also didn’t think it was good.
The film picks up where Eclipse left off; Edward Cullen (the vampire) and Bella Swan (the human) are going to be married. Sure there are hesitations (I mean you are marrying someone who is actually really old and well not alive) and love triangle participant Jacob Black is not happy about Bella’s choice. So the wedding happens, and Bella and Edward can finally consummate. This upsets Jacob because he thinks that Bella will risk her life while being human to get that intimate with Edward. His worries are basically proven correct as Edward leaves Bella in a very abused looking state, but that isn’t all … she’s pregnant. We don’t know why, we hear mumblings of some kind of tale or prediction about it, but some how a vampire has made a new life with a human. The pregnancy is not normal and it slowly kills Bella, so the Cullen’s take her in and Jacob vows to protect her as the baby has huge consequences and there are parties that don’t want it to live. So will Bella risk her life for the baby, will she finally turn into a vampire? Do any of us really care?
As a whole the series has some good ideas, but they are poorly conceived and executed. The romance between Edward and Bella is one of the most unstable and abusive I have seen in something aimed at young girls. They apparently share a love (that is unconvincing) so strong that the other would rather die than live without the other. It is as if author Stephanie Meyer read Romeo and Juliet, misunderstood it and tried to make her own. I mean I wasn’t aware that it was acceptable to teach girls that if you can’t have that cute boy you can go kill yourself, or to really have him you need to change yourself completely. This is how it reads for me, and if I had a daughter these are not the role models I would want for her. I might feel differently if Edward and Bella were a convincing couple on screen and they didn’t want to kill themselves at every little sign of trouble. What happened to fighting for your relationship?
Moving on to this film, Bill Condon seemed like a great choice for director. He seemed to understand that this is a franchise you can’t take 100% seriously and he treats it as such. He doesn’t insult its vision but it does not treat us like idiots either. This is probably a reason why I thought this was better than New Moon and Eclipse. It knew what it was and it ran with it. Potential Spoilers if you haven’t read the book or seen the film or don’t know why this installment has become so infamous. It took some of the more insane situations and actually made them watchable and they did not feel stupid. Much as been said of the birthing sequences and Jacob ‘falling in love with Edward and Bella’s baby’. However here they actually made his ‘imprint’ on to the child less creepy and actually delivered it well. It did not seem paedophilic as had been described and instead came off as something that could be understood. The film does not play itself straight, the wedding had some genuine moments of humour and other moments were rather intentionally funny and could be enjoyed. However for most of the running time, the film was boring. Not a lot really happens and in no way did it need an entire film to tell this story, it could have easily been cut down. However fans would not be happy, so this is really for them and for them to enjoy these things.
I felt this was better made and shot than the previous two entries, and the CG was much better as well. Bella’s look while she’s pregnant is a big part of it and they really made her look like a corpse, it was well done and it’s good to see the attention to detail. I hope girls see this and notice that that is what anorexia looks like, and it isn’t attractive or healthy. I noticed the costume design was much better than it had been previous, Bella’s wedding dress was lovely and it’s these little things that you notice. So in all yes certain things are better and better conceived but they can only do so much with the source material.
On the side of things which usually turn out to be hilarious, the acting! I was surprised with the overall performances, Kristen Stewart probably gave her best Bella performance here, she was so much better and in a strange twist of fate, she emoted! It was actually strange to see, and I was impressed with what she managed to accomplish. I actually really like her, and I do think away from this franchise she can be really solid, so I was happy to see her break the mold. Robert Pattinson continued to look uncomfortable as Edward, but his line deliveries sometimes hit the right mark. It was a step up, and he wasn’t too difficult to watch. Taylor Lautner gets progressively worse as Jacob, in the first film I thought he was one of the better performers but as his role gets worse and the dialogue gets worse he really doesn’t know how to execute it. For the most part he was laughable, but got to give the boy props for trying at least. Ashley Greene again was lovely as Alice, and it was a shame we didn’t get to see more of her. Nikki Reed was a little better as Rosalie; I mean I didn’t laugh at her so that is a plus. Jackson Rathbone just has to sit there as Jasper and I laugh, his look has always been awful and he just doesn’t seem to know what he’s meant to do. He wasn’t too bad in Eclipse with his little back-story but I even laughed at him watching the TV. Peter Facinelli was fine as was Elizabeth Reaser, their look certainly was less laughable than in the past. Sarah Clarke and Billy Burke continued to be fine as Bella’s parents; they seem to know what they are doing.
In all yes this was an improvement, but I don’t see the appeal and overall the storylines just tend to be boring and portrayed as such. I don’t like the messages Twilight gives out and with this film it wasn’t as apparent. I didn’t get the cliffhanger and the way it ended seemed like it was finished, but it obviously isn’t and I can only hope Part 2 brings something more to the table. This franchise just does not work for me, as I am sure The Vampire Diaries doesn’t for others and I happen to love that series. We all feel differently and interpret things differently, this is how I see Twilight and I am not afraid to share it.