To date, the first three TWILIGHT series has made an astounding $1.8 billion at the worldwide box-office. In the U.S. alone, each installment are consistently growing in term of box-office numbers (2008's TWILIGHT - $192.7 million, 2009's THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON - $296.6 million, and 2010's THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE - $300.5 million). So finally, here we are now -- the final installment of the TWILIGHT series, BREAKING DAWN, which has every die-hard fans around the world anticipating the movie like a Second Coming (okay, maybe that's an overstatement). This time, it's kind of fascinating to see that the studio (Summit) has wisely opted critically-acclaimed director Bill Condon, who made two Oscar-winning movies, GODS AND MONSTERS (1998) and DREAMGIRLS (2008), as well as an Oscar-nominated movie, KINSEY (2004). With the fair exception of Catherine Hardwicke-directed TWILIGHT, the previous two installments (NEW MOON and ECLIPSE) which were separately directed by Chris Weitz and David Slade, were tone-deaf and shockingly dull motion picture. Which is why, Condon's involvement in this lucrative franchise at least raised some hopes in term of its overall movie quality. Unfortunately this movie is (yet) another critical disappointment that should have deserved better, given the reputation of an Oscar-caliber director like Bill Condon.
Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) have already engaged, and now they are ready for a fairy-tale wedding. It was a happy moment for both of them as well as their both side of the families, but not for Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). He still nursing the same undying love for Bella, even though he does makes an appearance to wish her well in the end. However, it doesn't take long when he learns that the newlyweds are planning to have sex on their exotic Rio de Janeiro honeymoon. He figures it's a very risky choice to do so because the sex between a human and a vampire will definitely kills her.
Still Bella understands her risk but still believes she can make it. After a night of wonderful sexual bliss, Bella wakes up with bruises the following day -- a sign that has Edward worries he might hurt her further if they continue the same sexual activity. However, Bella insists to do so, only to find herself pregnant within two weeks. Soon her pregnancy turns increasingly agonizing for her to bear until she needs to consume a cup of blood to ease her pain. Bella's unstable condition gets worse from there, when she is suffered tremendously from a nearly fatal childbirth until Edward has no choice but to save her by sucking her blood to become immortal. Their newborn baby, however, is saved where Bella already named her daughter as Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy).
Bill Condon's direction is surprisingly pedestrian, while Melissa Rosenberg's adapted screenplay is as flat as it goes. Among the biggest problem here is the labored pace and suffers way too many verbal expositions that a proper editing could have done the job better. Instead everything here feels long-winded that breaking this movie into two chapters is really unnecessary. But of course, it is understandable that the studio obviously wants to satisfy the huge fanbase by not trimming too much from the original source material (Or most probably wants to cash in more money to the box-office). The acting, in the meantime, is as wooden as ever.
On the action front, there is really nothing to recommend here at all and forget about the low-rent special effects (especially the one involving the CGI wolf) as well. Other technical credits are adequate at best.
Despite all the shortcoming, this movie does have its few standout moments. Earlier, there is a surrealistic dream sequence involving Bella's wedding vows along with a pool of blood and roses as well as a pile of the dead bodies of all her family and friends unveiled in the background. The climactic scene where Bella suffered from a near-death childbirth is thankfully intense enough to make you pay attention, although it's simply too little and too late to justify the entire whole. But it's a shame that the much-anticipated sex scene between Bella and Edward isn't nothing to shout about, especially with all the restrictive PG-13 rating.
No doubt die-hard fans are going to flock for this movie, regardless how bad this movie is as long as the filmmakers manage to fulfill them with faithful execution and swoon-worthy casts. In the meantime, BREAKING DAWN PART 2 is due next November and I really hope Bill Condon would be able to improve better in the second round.