The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 review

A grim reaper…

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Let’s get right to the talking points. The headboard-breaking wedding night? Bit of an anticlimax. Bedward’s nuptials? Surprisingly good fun. Jacob’s shirt? Off within the first three minutes.

Otherwise, this action-light, occasionally bonkers penultimate chapter suffers from the issues you’ve come to expect – leaden dialogue, unintentional comedy – and some new ones to boot as director Bill Condon struggles to navigate the choppy narrative waters of Stephenie Meyer’s last, weirdest, most divisive novel.

So mopey mortal Bella (Stewart) is finally getting hitched to sparkly vampire soulmate Edward (Pattinson), and we follow her struggles with assorted aspects of the day, from sky-high heels (relatable) to the prospect of dying in order to be with her paramour for eternity (less so).

After a spot of dancing and an enjoyably awkward speech montage, the pair set sail for a desert island and get down to some long-awaited business – which, naturally given what franchise we’re in, doesn’t end well.

Stewart, confusingly, plays Bella as miserable and conflicted throughout the honeymoon phase – there’s an unintentional LOL as she asks Edward with her sourest face, “Why can’t you see how perfectly happy I am?” – and it’s only once she discovers she’s pregnant with a deadly hybrid vampire child that she perks up

Despite Pattinson and Stewart’s chemistry, the central relationship plays like a sad, destructive charade.

Still, you’ll be longing for more of them once the focus shifts to Bella’s spurned werewolf admirer Jacob (Lautner) and his stupendously dull pack of pals. The scene in which the wolves have a chat is comfortably the film’s worst, and their third act dominance ensures that the psychological horror of Bella’s Alien -esque plight goes totally unexplored.

An emotionally confused, narratively incoherent and oddly joyless affair centred on an 18-year-old girl voluntarily destroying herself from the inside out, this might work as a standalone horror piece with a stronger directorial hand. As a so-called epic love story, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Flat performances, dodgy plotting and rubbish talking wolves aside, this is a weirdly grim addition to the supposedly tween-friendly franchise, less fairy tale than misjudged horror show.

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Emma Didbin is a writer and journalist who has contributed to GamesRadar+, The New York Times, Elle, Esquire, The Hollywood Reporter, Vulture, and more. Emma can currently be found in Los Angeles where she is pursuing a career in TV writing. Emma has also penned two novels, and somehow finds the time to write scripts for Parcast – the Spotify-owned network that creates thrilling true crime and mystery podcasts.