“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn” packs a lot into its first half hour. There’s Taylor Lautner’s abs (twenty seconds in), teen brooding, a vampiric confession, an overprotective werewolf and the most anticipated teen wedding of the decade. Well, she’s eighteen, he’s over one hundred years old but looks like a youngin’. It’s the next-to-last in the popular series and takes Twihards to the bedroom and beyond.
In case you don’t know this is the episode in which the passionate, but chaste relationship between vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) become official and sexual. Everyone is pleased with the pairing except werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner), the lobo who is loco for Bella. He doesn’t approve, but when Bella gets pregnant with her dead lover’s baby and a tribe of werewolves vows to kill her, he chooses to follow his heart, not his heritage.
Like the most successful of recent teen movie franchises “Twilight” treats its characters with respect. Their trip from page to stage has been an easy journey, with most of traits that endeared author Stephanie Meyers’s creations to readers intact. The movies value the integrity of the characters and I think that is what has kept audiences coming back for more.
It’s not because they’re great movies. They’ve gotten better, and this Bill Condon directed episode is one of the best of the bunch–although he pads out the almost two-hour running time with so many music montages I lost count after the deflowering montage–but misses greatness because of its slavish loyalty to the book.
The story readers expect is there–family values intact, even if they are more Addams Family than Family Ties–with traditional morays celebrated, but the presentation of Bella’s pregnancy misses an opportunity to explore the darker side of this vampire story. What could have been a cool Cronenberg-style play on body horror instead becomes melodrama with a pro-life twist.
But “Twilight” has as much to do with horror as Pauley Shore does to comedy so I shouldn’t expect real scares, but stranger than any supernatural element in the story is its attitude toward the physical relationship between Bella and Edward. Despite containing a tasteful sex scene the movie seems afraid of sex.
What message does it send to the young audience that Bella can declare how happy she is, while covered in bruises after a night of wild vampire get-it-on? And don’t even contemplate the horrors of pregnancy, it seems to say.
If it was a horror film the odd messages could be taken for what they are–plot devices–but in this context they read more like unnecessary cautionary tales about the dangers of sex between consenting adults.
“Breaking Dawn” isn’t likely to recruit many new Twilight fans, but despite some odd sexual politics should please fans of the series.