Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Breaking Dawn (Finally)

(Note that this isn't a review of the movie, just my thoughts on it--my random thoughts, like it says in my profile.)

Back when New Moon came out in theatres, it was my first semester of college and also my first time in quite a while actually living close to a theatre (I don't count the tiny local one). As a result, I went to see that movie a few times total because if I was coming home from class feeling a little unhappy (what with the whole adjusting thing) and getting rained on (as the weather is also doing this year), I would console myself by going to watch this movie again, glad that I could do so. It seemed like I would always watch the movie when it was rainy and I was in a bad mood. It was something of a tradition.

Yesterday, I had my last final for the semester, so I celebrated by some final bits of Christmas shopping . . . and it was also raining. I scowled at the rain and thought of a Harkins gift card in my wallet, finally finding myself at the 1:00 showing of Breaking Dawn. It took me a month to go and see this movie again after my first viewing on opening day.

As I give my thoughts on the movie, I must admit in all fairness that out of the four books, Breaking Dawn probably isn't my favorite; Twilight is, and its adaptation is also my favorite. I would pass this off as coincidence, but is it, really?

The problem I have is that, in my opinion, it seems like everything that could have gone wrong with splitting Breaking Dawn into two movies did. Sure, you can spend half hour on the wedding, but is it necessary to? Etc. And as I watched the second time, it seemed to me that the splitting caused a change in the primary "problem" of the story. The main problem of the book is the threat of the Volturi, but it seems that that problem has been pushed over to Part 2. The problem in place of it for Part 1 is the pregnancy . . . and, yes, it is still a conflict in the book, but not in the same way. What happened to Edward (and all the Cullens, for that matter) trying not to upset Bella or show how much he is hurt by what's happening to her? The added scene in Carlisle's office/hospital set up may show some of what the characters are thinking, but having Edward yell at Bella and then simply walk away from her? That's very out of character, only adding "movie conflict."

And I wasn't very happy with the changes made to the conflict with the wolves. They're subtle changes, perhaps, that have to do mostly with timing. Yet I find them unnecessary. The only purpose they seem to serve is to add bits of action, especially with that final fight sequence. But let me ask, was action necessary in this moment, coming just after the birth scene? Though I like a little of it, I don't watch Twilight for the action; that's for other movies to focus on, in my eyes.

I'm also wondering from whose perspective the infamous birth scene actually is. I know Bill Condon decided to shoot it, physically, from Bella's perspective, but watching that scene, I don't get the sense I get from reading that chapter as Bella tells it. Nor even as Jacob does, for the most part. Bella is essentially passed out, living in her own world of pain and blackness as she tries to remember the people she loves that she must stay alive for. And as Edward and Jacob work to keep Bella alive, Jacob is feeling the loss of his attachment to her--because, as we come to realize, his attachment has transferred itself to Renesmee. Those things aren't really what I get from that scene in the movie.

I also really missed seeing the slowly burgeoning friendship between Edward and Jacob, starting with their "deal" that the latter will kill the former when/if Bella dies. They develop a camaraderie of sorts over their attention to Bella, which sets us up for their relationship to each other in the second half of the book. If the book was split into two movies, I don't feel like something like this should have been left out.

I know, I broke my pledge not to dwell overly on pessimism. But the thing I have realized is that I like the books, and I like the first movie; after that, my interest begins slowly to dwindle. All the same, here are some things I did like.

I like what we have seen of Renesmee so far. Renesmee has to be right since she is the wonderful thing that makes all of the weird plot points seem not to matter so much. I'm looking forward to seeing more of her next year. Also along the lines of CGI, Bella's transformation was interesting to see; this is an example of something we don't really see in the book that the movie is able to show, and did show well.

The wedding speeches were funny, but watching the second time, I felt that they were more like deleted scenes material. Doesn't the fact that new bits like this needed to be added to the movie show that it wasn't necessary to split the book in two?

I know one critic complained that the movie is so dragged out that we even see Bella cooking at one point, but I liked seeing her cook for the first time. Bella is constantly in the kitchen in the books, whether it's making enchiladas to get her mind off of Edward in Twilight or washing dishes while talking to Jacob in Eclipse. I feel like this is a major character point. Around the same movie scene, I was thrilled to see Edward's handwriting for the first time, as well--the script is very similar to the font that the books use for his writing.

The inclusion of "Flightless Bird, American Mouth" at the wedding was a nice touch, although I wish that I hadn't known beforehand to expect it. I liked Kaure in the movie, although I do wish that her conversation with Edward hadn't been translated since it isn't in the book.

I think that's about it. I could certainly keep talking, but I don't want to make any more complaints--that would be ungrateful. And by the way, The Hillywood Show has met their fundraiser goal for their parody of the movie--I'm curious what angle they decide to use.

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