PEOPLE's Movie Critic Reviews Breaking Dawn – Part 1

Breaking Dawn - Part 1 Review
Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in Breaking Dawn – Part 1
Andrew Cooper/Summit

updated 11/17/2011 at 07:40 AM EST

originally published 11/17/2011 08:05AM

Rating:

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(Note: Spoilers follow)

There's actually good news for everyone here. Twilight fans can rejoice that Breaking Dawn – Part 1, opening Friday, is a breathless, faithful portrayal of so much they've waited to see: Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella's (Kristen Stewart) wedding, honeymoon and their darling, matricidal little bundle of joy.

Twilight haters can delight in the fact that it's the beginning of the end.

As a fully recovered Twi-hard for whom the book Breaking Dawn was a breaking point, I get it. Years have passed for fans waiting to get to this moment, the inarguably gorgeous, wildly over the top nuptials of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, and here, Part 1 doesn't disappoint.





The dress is beautiful, a tasteful but fashion-forward creation; Edward looks every bit the dashing groom; the toasts are hilarious (on purpose!) and yes, the honeymoon is a dream. The trouble is just about everything that follows.

The movie begins almost as a romantic comedy, complete with the spurned suitor (Taylor Lautner's Jacob) showing up for a good-natured dance with the bride. Before long, though, it's a gestation horror show with Bella somehow (I hesitate to use the term "miraculously") pregnant with Edward's vampire baby, the kid literally sucking the life out of her.

All due credit to the special effects wizards who turn Stewart into an emaciated shell of a woman, because she truly looks as if a demon spawn were using her as a host.

The pregnancy touches off an internecine fight within the wolf pack, pitting Jacob against his former brothers in scenes so overwrought the audience titters in embarrassment. The unintentionally funny business doesn't stop there (if you serve a pregnant woman blood in a fast-food cup with a straw, people will laugh), turning the film's second half into painful, tedious melodrama for anyone not already invested in the saga.

Not that any of that will deter fans one bit. If anything, readers may complain that the birth scene, an ocean of blood in the book, is too tame onscreen – arguably, as is the PG-13 honeymoon. Plus, there's not barely a hint of the war to come in next year's final installment, which might've given this half more action.

Still, there's precious little in Breaking Dawn – Part 1 that will truly disappoint the initiated – or attract anyone who doesn't already care.



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