** NOTE This post was actually written to be posted on Forever Young Adult, and I just copied it here because it’s my blog. If you like YA lit and found this post through a Google search and don’t know about FYA, you really need to go and check that site out. Even if this review upsets you. **
I like the Twilight films. I like them a lot. I just don’t like them as they are intended to be enjoyed. I laugh at Twilight films a lot. Belly laughs. Horrified laughs. Laughs of disbelief. This isn’t me trying to be “too cool” for the series; I’m clearly not in the target market for this fiction. I came to this film series out of curiosity and I have stayed for the audacious level of awfulness that pervades it. This post is a reaction to the latest installment. I have never read the books, and I have no plans to do so. Ever. EVER. Thanks to the Internet, I had a fair idea of what was coming to me. It was part of the experience. I’m not sure if a spoiler alert is even necessary here, really, but I may as well make it clear: I am going to write in detail about specific scenes in this dog’s dinner of a film. It’s not a review, and it’s not quite a rant. It’s a reaction.
Breaking Dawn assumes the crown of best/worst Twilight movie. It’s a masterpiece, really. Despite the low depths to which the earlier films gleefully plunged, despite the unrivalled ability of the two principal actors to make a scene feel like they have the ability to slow down time itself to fit in more boredom, and despite my preparedness (oh, damn my hubris!) for really crazy gender issues, this film ensured my jaw remained solidly open for long stretches of time. Nothing that has come before this in the series is even remotely as insane as what happens in this film. The male characters have never been creepier, the vampire characters have never been more bland or less interesting, the central character of the entire series has never been more infuriating and, frankly, never been more outrageously political in a way that I am not sure belongs in fiction aimed at young girls. Well no, allow me to correct myself. I am completely sure that politics like this (read: extreme) should not be in fiction aimed at young people of either gender.
Let’s get started then… The film starts with Bella being awkward (aww… bless!) in some high heels while Edward Cullen stands on a balcony looking forlorn and, crucially, ignoring the central character of the story, the woman he is about to marry. He just stands there looking out on to the veranda while his weird doctor “dad” carries wooden benches around on one shoulder. Incidentally, this begs the question, yet again, of just how stupid the residents of Forks have to be. We are way beyond Clark Kent and spectacles at this point. I mean, there has to be some kind of construction industry or events management in the Forks area, right? It’s a small town. There’s probably one contractor and everyone would know who it is. He or she would be upset they didn’t get set-up job for the Cullen wedding. Ok, only a few hours’ work, but hey it’s cash, and who did they get to move all that equipment and vintage wooden furniture that we are supposed to think grows naturally in the wild in Washington?
So, Edward then turns up in Bella’s bedroom, because this is considered completely normal at this point and has been their standard courting procedure for four films now. He then does the forlorn thing and tries to talk her out of marrying him. The night before the wedding. He doesn’t deserve her, and this upsets him so much that he wants to make sure that her big day is ruined by him complaining. This is a theme, by the way. There’s more, though; he is not undeserving because of the usual fake humblebrag reasons, but because he has a murky vampire human-killing past. You see, Edward was a crime-fighting vampire, who would stalk nineteenth century American towns solving crimes, feeding only on would-be rapists and attackers. This horrifies him, because he’s the worst vampire ever, and has absolutely no effect on Bella whatsoever, because she doesn’t care about human life and just wants to make sure that Edward is comfortable and that he has everything he wants. Meanwhile I’m waiting for the flashback where he’s wearing a full on deerstalker a la Sherlock Holmes. It’s beyond terrible, makes no sense, was admittedly quite funny, and serves absolutely no purpose in this film except to show that Edward is an inconsiderate idiot who is constantly creating drama for no reason. Again: this is a theme.
So, the wedding happens, and to be honest, I found it very boring. Meyer’s cameo was pretty hilarious. The “first kiss” is predictably gross, and all I could think of was how young people today probably haven’t seen the scene in The Wedding Singer where Drew Barrymore describes a socially acceptable wedding kiss. Pro tip, kids: don’t make out on the altar. It’s gross. At the wedding ceremony, Edward brings Bella out to meet Jacob, because he’s understanding and he’s so secure in their love, and he can’t pass up the opportunity to have a huge amount of drama on the day that he is getting married. Jacob gets upset because Bella and Edward will do sex on their honeymoon, and this will kill Bella. Bella, in what is another theme in this film, is fairly convinced that the power of human will triumphs over scientific fact. Now that I think of it, Bella Swan has a lot more in common with Mao Zedong than I realized. Shortly after a meaningless shouting match, more guests get upset, and as is traditional at a wedding, share this with the young couple directly, because it’s not like this is an important day or anything. Then everyone gets together to cheer the fact that this guy is taking an 18 year old girl into his Volvo and driving her to a secret location. Bella’s dad points this out, and how we all laugh. Silly Charlie. They’re in love! Everything will be ok!
This secret location, after a risible detour into Rio de Janeiro where we establish that poverty is a fascinating aspect of The World Outside America and pretty people make out in public, is an island that the vampires own. They have their own island. This has never been mentioned. This family has the means to charter their own private jets, they own a speedboat, and they own an island, and they have never mentioned this. How have they never mentioned that they own an entire island? Complete, of course, with a beautiful house and quaint native American house helpers, who walk around speaking Spanish and performing admirably as typically racist caricatures. Then, Edward and Bella have sex. It’s hilarious.
From this point on, it is made abundantly clear that the male characters in this film are creepy, possessive jerks. In the previous film, this was mostly implied. Blindingly obvious, but implied. In Breaking Dawn… So, after the obligatory sex has been conducted, Bella is reminiscing about how AMAZING it was when Edwards points out that she has bruises lining her arms. She points out that she doesn’t care, that she loves him and the sex was good, and I really don’t have the strength to get into all of that. It’s creepy. What is more creepy, in my opinion, is that Edward then expresses remorse and refuses to have sex with her for the rest of the honeymoon. So, let’s get this straight: the groom finally yields to his bride’s insatiable (and let’s face it, sinful) urges, but then decides to use sex as a weapon against her by denying it to her for the next two weeks. Really.
Then, Bella is somehow magically pregnant. I say “magically” because this is treated as the biggest plot twist in modern fiction. Basically, we have been subjected for years now to a story about werewolves whose clothes magically grow back after transformations Hulk-style, vampires with iridescent diamond skin, and a weird Vampire-led illuminati operating out of Italy, and the biggest shock in the series is that an 18 year old woman got pregnant after she had sex? This is a joke, right? I mean, we’re all in on this one, aren’t we? RIGHT??? Edward’s reaction to this is to immediately become a caricature of the evil boyfriend who rejects God and worships abortion doctors. There is a lot of grabbing the phone away from Bella, yelling at her for being the reason that sex is inherently bad (pay attention, ladies!) and bringing in previously mentioned racist caricatures to glower at her and cry out in Portuguese. The subtitles claim she was saying “Death!” but we all know she was really pointing out that Bella is a massive whore for having sex and that the cycle of life is profane.
This film turns into a very badly written political discussion piece on abortion. Really. I mean… Why would you do that? One of the most divisive issues in modern society, and you introduce it into fiction written for teenage girls? What? For no reason whatsoever, Bella and Edward now swap positions on the value of life. Bella suddenly starts talking about her baby and how the baby must live no matter what. At one point they tell her that she will die and the baby won’t make it anyway and she decides to try anyway because, you know, life is a miracle and like, she loves the baby so much, you know, and like… It’s really, really awful. Incidentally, I am not making any assumptions about the “correct” position in this argument. I just know this argument shouldn’t be happening in this film. At one point, characters actually take positions in an astonishingly badly written debate on whether or not abortion is wrong. It’s truly bizarre.
Meanwhile, the film has been busy introducing characters that I’ve never heard of while introducing subtle hints that pedophilia is an acceptable practice if you’re a werewolf. I wish I was joking. The best scene of the series so far, by a country mile, brings us a mad fevered dream of a run through the forest by a werewolf that ends with some kind of Model UN meeting between a bunch of CGI wolves having a heated discussion telepathically. There’s a lot of yelling while these wolves mug for the camera, and nothing really gets resolved, except that for some reason the entire werewolf community has gotten involved in this idiot’s (Jacob’s) teen drama. Also, there’s some kind of doggy face-off and power struggle, but the whole thing has less gravitas than a Beethoven film.
As the film is coming to an end, the filmmakers suddenly introduce some horror elements, and actually almost make it interesting. Bella drinks blood milkshakes, and it’s extremely disgusting and pretty cool. She has also by this time become horrifically emaciated. The whole “physical horror of childbirth” thing actually has a bit of a theme going for a while. Then there’s a deliberately vague scene that glosses over the disturbing specifics of the child’s birth, Jacob falls in love with a baby, and Edward injects an enormous syringe into Bella to try and save her life, then biting her all over her body including at least one rude place. It’s really, really odd. Also, werewolves turn up and they have another conversation and they explain that now that Jacob loves the baby, they can’t attack because pedophilia is the most important component of werewolf culture. Why they can’t murder everyone there EXCEPT the baby and Jacob, and then live happily ever after except for a weird conversation on adoption and parenthood at Thanksgiving dinner at some point down the road, is never adequately explained.
Also, I want to post a pro tip for my fellow dudes out there, particularly the younger dudes who may actually be in a “love triangle.” Hey, I’ve been in one or two. First of all, there is no love triangle. There is a person in the middle who likes attention. Secondly, if you marry a girl and she insists that this other dude be included at all times, and she wants to name your first born after him (unless it’s a girl, then she’ll make up an embarrassingly stupid name instead), you should leave her. Because guy, I’m telling you right now, she’s planning for a few “mistakes” after too much wine going forward. You know, while you’re out of town, attending the vampire conference?
I think the weirdest thing about this film is that despite all of the madness I just described, and more that I did not describe, I walked out of the cinema feeling like nothing had really happened. I suppose, what did happen? A teenager got married, got pregnant, refused to include her father (or her mother) in an extremely important moral and medical decision, and then some werewolves shouted at each other. This series is insane. Bring on Part 2.