The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 – Review by Susan Granger

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Blame the Part 1 choice on “Harry Potter.” Stephanie Meyer wrote only four books in this franchise, as opposed to J.K. Rowling’s seven. So stretching out the conclusion is understandable – in box-office terms – with Bill Condon (“Gods and Monsters,” “Kinsey,” ”Dreamgirls”) helming the final two installments.

As this segment of the series begins, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) marries vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattison), much to the dismay of shape-shifting werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). Their dreamy woodland ceremony is lavish; the bride’s gown is by Caroline Herrera. And the newlyweds depart for a tropical honeymoon on a secluded island off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. After a tempestuous night of lovemaking, Bella wakes up with bruises on her body and soon discovers she’s pregnant. Having a half-vampire/half-human baby is fraught with dire complications, but Bella is determined to deliver this child at any cost, even her own life. After a particularly gruesome birthing sequence, Renesmee is born and – to avert a fatal battle between werewolves and vampires – Jacob spiritually “imprints” on her, becoming her lifelong protector. So much for plot.

Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg dutifully transitions Bella into examining the complexities of marriage and the dilemma facing a vulnerable woman who discovers that she is carrying a vampiric embryo. Some interpret this as an abstinence parable; feminists have criticized Stephanie Meyer’s socially conservative portrayal of teen sexuality, marriage and pregnancy. But what is vividly portrayed is the message of taking responsibility for one’s choices, like mating with the undead and transitioning into a vampire.

Unfortunately, while emaciated Kristen Stewart, brooding Robert Pattison and hunky Taylor Lautner have acquired confidence in their characters, they still lack the acting chops necessary to make this far-fetched, melodramatic fantasy even remotely believable. On the other hand, the CGI-generated special-effects are diverting.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1” is a banal, bloodsipping 6. Be sure to stay for the brief epilogue about the future threat of the Volturi.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.