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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 delivers strongly for the rabid fan base who have catapulted the young adult
novel series and subsequent movie adaptations to the worldwide phenomenon that it's become, but it alienates a broader
audience with a lack of any real action. Similar to the tone of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, the first
film of the two-part Twilight conclusion is heavy on romance, love, and turmoil but light on fight scenes and gruesome
battles. The movie doesn't waste any time getting to the goods and opens with Bella and Edward's much-hyped wedding
scene. It works--the vows are efficient and first-time franchise director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) moves the party along
quickly and amusingly with a well-edited toast scene and some surprisingly moving moments between Bella and her father,
cast standout Billy Burke. The honeymoon plays as a slightly awkward soft-focus made-for-TV movie, with a lot of long
moments spent staring in the mirror and some love scenes that feel at once overly intimate and completely passionless.
It's a relief when Bella retches on a bite of chicken she's cooked herself and quickly concludes she's pregnant with a
potentially demonic baby. From bliss to horror, the Cullens return to Forks, where Bella spends the second half of the
movie wasting away and Edward and Jacob are aligned in their anger and frustration over her decision. Throw in some
over-the-top scenes with Jacob and his pack--including a strange showdown where the wolves communicate in their canine
form by having a passionate nonverbal fight in their minds (a plot point that works much better in print, it's portrayed
in the film via aggressive voice-over)--and the film overshoots intensity and goes straight to silly. The birth scene is
horrific, but not as gruesome as in the book, and by the end, Bella has of course survived, though is much altered. The
final scene features a delightfully campy Michael Sheen as Volturi leader Aro and makes it clear that the action and fun
in Breaking Dawn, Part 1 is ready to start. Fans will just have to wait until Part 2 to get it. --Kira Canny