Breaking Down in Breaking Dawn – Twilight Saga: Part 4

An edited version of the following piece was published in Issue 758 of the LSESU newspaper, The Beaver and was co-written with my friend, and partner-in-crime, IS.

Director: Bill Condon

Screenplay: Melissa Rosenberg, Stephanie Meyer

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner

Rating: 2 stars

Team Edward – by IS

First of all, a disclaimer: I know Twilight is bad. I realise the books are badly written, and the films are really cringe. This, however, did not stop me from going to BFI IMAX’s Twiathalon, or whatever it was called. I know Twilight is awful – but I sort of love it. And if I must, I would call myself Team Edward. More importantly, though, I am Team Twilight for the first film of the saga.

Before I explain what I mean, let me give a quick run-down of the plot for all those people who have been living under a rock for the past four years. In Twilight, the first film, Bella (Kristen Stewart) meets Edward (Robert Pattinson), a vampire. In New Moon, Edward leaves Bella. I fell asleep during Eclipse, but I think it involves Edward and Bella making out, and then there is a werewolf with a six-pack – Jacob (Taylor Lautner). In Breaking Dawn: Part 1, Bella and Edward get married, go on their honeymoon, and Bella is knocked-up with vampire-spawn. Such flimsy and ridiculous premises translated into one good film, two mediocre films and one laughably bad one.

I genuinely think the first film is quite good. Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, it’s moody, bleak and weird, full of little quirks and mistakes that make it extremely likeable. It is low-budget and dream-like, and I think it deserves its cult status. I’m Team Edward because he is pale, interesting, and brooding – just like the first film. I personally find the gross, greyish treasure-trail on R-Pattz’s stomach endlessly more attractive than the rippling six-pack on Lautner – who is strangely hairless for someone who is supposed to be a werewolf. The films hurtled downhill when Lautner took his shirt off. Stewart and Pattinson – neither of them bad actors – just look increasingly uncomfortable, the sparkling chemistry in the first film killed stone-dead after they began dating off-screen. Any of the little oddities and quirks were ironed out flat by the studios for New Moon, which is a lot slicker and strangely soulless.

But what of the Twiathalon itself, and more importantly, the newest film? BFI plugged perfectly into the hysteria Twilight incites in the hearts of most girls by running this all-night movie marathon, starting at 23:00 and finishing ridiculously late in the morning. It was quite the emotional rollercoaster: I laughed manically in Twilight for absolutely no reason, slept during New Moon, cried through Eclipse, and hiding under my coat during Breaking Dawn. I don’t know what to say about Breaking Dawn, really, except that it was unbelievably embarrassing. It began with an utterly cringe-inducing wedding, and ended in a rather forced manner midway through the book. The birthing scene was disturbingly graphic, whereas the sex scene was disappointingly  not so. As an avid fan I nonetheless enjoyed it, but there was something strangely schizophrenic about its drastic changes in tone, which jumped from funny to horrific to sad with a nosebleed-inducing speed. Seeing it back-to-back with the other films merely emphasized its shortcomings. It could not have been further from the first film. Also, the main reason I didn’t like it was because R-Pattz looks a bit rough.

So, if I am anything, I am Team Edward. I am Team Hardwicke. I am Team Twilight. Or maybe I’m just Team Lame.

Team Jacob – by yours truly

I feel like this really needs to the official correction and commentary on the preceding article. When the two of us agreed to embark on the incredible, emotional journey that is a Twiathlon (oh yes, there is an official term for these 8 straight hours of vampire fun), we didn’t know what we were signing up for. From 14 year-olds in onesies, to lone middle-aged hardcore fans sporting Twilight memorabilia, the screening was packed to the rim. Which only means one thing – there were more witnesses to our “Five stages of coping with Twilight” [as opposed to Grief] than I would have liked.

Regardless of what haters say, Twilight itself was actually quite enjoyable.  As any teen rom-com, it was full of embarrassing, goosebump-inducing jokes, and some very intense eye-gazing scenes – some almost too intense too handle. Nevertheless, the story is pretty dark and exciting, and Jacob’s long unruly mane will make you chuckle. A lot.

And now to defend Team Jacob. First of all, there’s no denying his acting is pretty bad. But then again, everyone’s acting in the Twilight Saga is in need of improvement (with the only exception of Charlie Swan, played by Billy Burke). Jacob has a special ability of always being topless, regardless of situation or weather conditions. Such perseverance really is to be commended. His toplessness, combined with brilliant one-liners that don’t require much thespian ability – “We were talking. And then Bella broke her hand…against my face” – is what kept me awake through the entire first film, and a good half of New Moon. As a stranger in the toilets assured me, the rest of the film consisted of Bella walking through woods looking like a prune, so apparently I didn’t miss much. Eclipse has a pretty slow start (and middle, and finish) but Jacob finally sheds his Pokahontas look, and goes for a short crop. I’m not going to pretend that I judged this film on qualities other than superficial ones. Anyone going into a screening of a film marketed with a topless main character is going in for the same reason.

When Breaking Dawn arrived on the oh-so-big IMAX screen, I was nearly crying with fatigue (about halfway through New Moon, I actually did cry – in madness). The entire film was very fantastical, with pretty wedding dresses, pretty faces and when Bella has morning sickness – even pretty vomit. There is a scene where the CGI wolf pack actually talks. At first I thought it was a satirical take on the Narnia films, then my imagination, then both. To be completely honest, my favourite part of Breaking Dawn was when the credits started rolling. The film is completed with an excruciating, ten-minute long birthing scene (which I am convinced is not suitable for a PG/12A rating), after which the Bella dies, and is then reborn again as…a vampire. Go figure.

So to sum up, things we have discovered during our 8 hour Twilight experience:

  1. The films go from enjoyable to unbearable.
  2. The music in all four films is amazing. I genuinely want to get the soundtracks once my student loan comes in.
  3. Jacob gets progressively better-looking, but get less screen time (after New Moon, where is he king of all things male and topless).
  4. Giving birth is even more disgusting when the future child is an evil, blood-sucking, CGI ‘miracle’.
  5. Edward and Bella make a boring couple. Without Jacob and the wolves, the film would merely consist of suicidal montages and depressing narrative.
  6. After numerous close-ups, we realised that Edward has a two-sided face: a good-looking side, and an uglier, confused side. We have chosen to interpret this as a personality trait. Jacob, unconventionally, has a butter face.
  7. When going to an all-night marathon this is what will happen to you: you will laugh, eat, sleep, cry, laugh, and want to lie on the floor. Be prepared to fight these urges or risk losing your sanity and friends.

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