Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Video review: "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1"

It's now a common thing for film franchises based on popular books to split them into more than one movie. "The Lord of the Rings" did so successfully, then "Harry Potter" played copy-cat (as is his wont). Now the Twilight books, which exist several rungs down on the literary ladder, have done so, with much worse results.

I have no problem splitting up a book when there’s simply too much story to tell in a single two-hour (or even three-hour) movie, and trying to do so would inevitably leave audiences with a disappointing Cliffs Notes version of the book. As long as there’s narrative momentum and character development, make 17 movies if it pleases.

But with “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1,” there’s just not a whole lot of tale to tell. What there is feels stretched and pulled like cheap carnival taffy to make it resemble a complete whole, when it's really a whole lot of exposition about vampires brooding and werewolves gnashing their frustration.

The result is a draggy, drippy installment in the “Twilight” series, easily the most boring of the franchise.

Immortal vampire dream boy Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) finally gets to put a ring on it with human lady love Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart). Alas, their sun-kissed honeymoon results in a hybrid baby growing in her belly, threatening to kill her in the process. Meanwhile, grumpy werewolf/spurned lover Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) must defend them against the rest of his wolf pack, who see the half-breed vampire as an abomination.

Those mutts got something right: movies, like vampires, shouldn't settle for half-measures. And foisting half a movie on audiences as a cynical ploy to generate twice as many tickets sales just plain sucks.

At least the film is arriving on video with a package of extra features that don't suck. Goodies appear to be the same for both Blu-ray and DVD editions.

There's an audio commentary track with director Bill Condon, and an extensive six-part making-of documentary. Also Edward and Bella's wedding video, and featurettes dubbed "Jacob's Destiny," "Edward Fast Forward" and "Jacob Fast Forward."

Movie: 1.5 stars out of four
Extras: 3 stars

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