Movie review: Film loyal to first bite

Published 12:12 pm Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan and Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen star in "Breaking Dawn."

Full disclosure: Yes, I have read each of Stephanie Meyer’s books in the “Twilight” series. Yes, I have seen each one of the films. And this weekend, I was one of the 8 kabillion people who flocked to the theaters to see the latest release of the series.

If you haven’t seen any of the movies but want to— please don’t read this. I’m not going to be careful about this review and not spoiling the plot is just too much responsibility.

A quick recap for the blissfully unaware: Girl meets boy. Boy is a vampire. Girl loves boy and boy loves girl and tries not to suck her blood and stuff. Girl gets a little conflicted when boy disappears and she spends time with another boy.

Boy 2 is a werewolf. Girl is unphased. Werewolves and vampires do not get along, if you didn’t know. Boy 1 returns, there’s fighting and a treaty and other vampires. Everyone knows girl and boy 1 will love each other forever … Even though she can’t let go of boy 2 because he bulked up and he’s all protective and cute.

There’s no element of reality to these movies. And like those that came before it, “Breaking Dawn” is enjoyable for that fact alone. It’s a fantasy — at least most of us adults realize that. And the reason it rakes in kabillions of people and dollars is because it wraps up the age-old desire for true love, the kind that goes beyond all that tries to stop it, the kind that lasts forever.

It’s that forever where “Breaking Dawn” begins. Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) prepare for their nuptials.

Meanwhile, Bella’s other love, the loyal and often angry Jacob (Taylor Lautner) is … well … angry. He’s angry about the wedding, he’s angry about the wedding night, he’s angry Bella wants to be a vampire.

His efforts to change Bella’s mind are futile. She’s set on becoming a vampire even though the vampires aren’t sure about the whole idea either.

Stewart has said in movie promos she feels as though she’s been working up to this wedding for four years, since the start of the series. And it kind of felt that way as the scene unfolded in a lavishly decorated forest.

Meyer, the author of the series, appears as a guest at the wedding, the camera hanging on her just long enough to remind us where the whole story started.

“Breaking Dawn” has had probably the most buzz around its release because of the inevitable sex scene in which Edward and Bella finally … get intimate. The film had the daunting task of staying at a PG-13 rating in order to keep its core audience, and it pushed that to the limit. Not that kids don’t see sex on television these days, I’m just  sayin’ …

Still, the movie doesn’t lollygag. It’s not long before Bella realizes she’s pregnant with no ordinary pregnancy. The baby, a vampire/human hybrid, is killing its mother and is growing superfast. And the birth is bloody and violent. Stewart is made to look sunken-in and corpse-like. And it works. Even those of us who have read the books and know what comes in “Breaking Dawn Part II” were a little taken aback by the scene.

The cast has done a good job of keeping their characters consistent. Nobody has outgrown themselves just yet.

And that’s the triumph, really. Films have always had trouble holding up to bestselling novels that come before them. The “Twilight” series could have been a massive failure had it turned off devoted fans by not staying true to the page. And that is a credit to the author, whose writing enchanted so many readers to start.

So fans — fear not. “Breaking Dawn” doesn’t break the rhythm. Which is good news to all you loyalists (yes, even those of you who try to hide it).

Favorite moment — hands down — the final shot in that last scene. So perfect I couldn’t help but let the fan in me come out of hiding and utter an enthusiastic “yes!”