****There are spoilers****
I had to wait a few days to start writing this review of Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part I (henceforth, BD). This is because I left this movie thinking—well, it was…..not too bad…pretty good….sweet, endearing, charming, even. Then I went to bed, and woke up. Yes, it’s true. I had been to the Thursday midnight showing of this movie. I have accompanied my friend Louie to his first viewing of all of the Twilight saga movies. I say first viewing because he goes, and goes over and over and over again. He’s kind of obsessed. He’s not obsessed with any other vampires in any other series but this one, has never heard of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and has never read (to my knowledge) Dracula. I am not sure I understand completely his attachment to this series (or that I want to), so I will leave it and any further speculation, at that.
I read Twilight and no further. I had an idea going in that this movie is about a wedding, a honeymoon, and a vampire/human conceived child. I reject this nonsense that vampires can conceive children. Can vampires spawn? No, they cannot. Do they not re-create themselves and families if they so desire the old fashioned way—by bite, death, and becoming undead? I have many, many, many other issues with Stephenie Meyers and her vampires, her bad grammar (see www.reasoningwithvampires.tumblr.com for some awesome commentary on this matter) her stilted, Mary Sue style story telling, and so forth—but she’s the kajillionaire, and I just look on from the sidelines shaking my head in disgusted angst. I have often wondered why this whole story could not have just been a Romeo and Juliet kind of YA series—two human kids, star-crossed lovers from different sides of the tracks, disapproving families, love forever more. I suppose, I guess, that this would be too boring and conventional. It’s all so much more…something or other…when you involve vampires in this dreck.
BD was playing on all six screens at 12:06 Friday morning at my local multiplex. We parked down close to the ravine at the bottom of the theater parking lot. A perfect fall midnight moon rose above the ravine and the bare branches of the trees lightly swayed and crackled. It was cold enough that we could see our breath. As I got out of the car, I looked down into the ravine, imagining real vampires down in there, who were at this very moment wondering what the heck was up with humans parking so close to their usually quiet lair. Breaking Dawn meant nothing to most of them. For the few who knew about the books and the movies, they shuddered with disgust, which caused the leafless trees to sway again. I turned my back on the real vampires in the ravine and started to walk up to the theater with Louie.
Joining us were all the girls and some boys from periods 2, 4, and 7 study hall from the Butler junior, middle, and senior high school. Some of the girls wore Twilight gear. Some of the kids also wore vampire make-up including “blood” lipstick dripping from the corners of their lips down their chins. No werewolves, though. Oh dear. I was hoping to see a real inspired group of kids decked out in lavender (Bella’s wedding colors) formals and white pasty faces come to the wedding movie as vampire wedding guests. Wouldn’t that be cool? I’m all for inspired obsession. I like to see clever and cool together. I did not. When I was a nerdy little seventh grader, reading my Dracula book and adoring my Interview with a Vampire book, I was quite alone in my obsession. Behind my googly glasses, hopelessly and haplessly unfashionable skirts and sweaters, I was not so much nurturing my outcast status at that point, but just trying to survive school one day at a time. Absent Glee or any other group—we nerdie vampire enthusiast kids were nerdie all by ourselves back in the day. I mention all this, because I was glad to know that these kids had friends with whom to obsess over vampires—even in the context of this irritating series. No one should have to get obsessed and stay obsessed all by themselves, as John Irving mentions to us.
Anyhow. The movie commenced and from the third row, I witnessed, writ incredibly large on the screen, the wedding of the decade, the ensuing honeymoon, and a ghastly vampire induced pregnancy wreaking havoc on a human girl. All of the first two thirds of the movie was fairly conventional. In fact, it was shot in such a way that it was beautiful and entrancing, and I think I was drawn in with the anticipation of this vampire wedding created by a great director working with flawed materials. Who doesn’t like a wedding? In this movie, both Bella and Edward seemed kind of put off by the whole idea. Ok, whatever. I have come to realize from watching these movies that Bella is uncomfortable with everything and everyone (except Edward) including herself. For me, the wedding of the decade happened back in April when Miss Kate Middleton got married to Will Windsor in that little ceremony at Westminster Abbey—but I’m old school that way—or old. Either way…meh.
Unfortunately, since this is not Joss Whedon at the helm, the anticipation withered away under the weight of the conventional. There would be no shocking twists or turns. Again, vampires hardly seemed to be involved. It was an all human affair. There were vampire guests, but they acted human—every now and then learing at humans—you know, like any other wedding reception. I don’t know, I guess I was hoping to see a partial glimpse of the vampire underworld or something, but no—it was all conventional right down to a cookie table, friends and relatives who dance badly, make awkward wedding statements at the reception, and a wedding cake from Stanley’s now defunct bakery. An old boy friend (Jake, wolf shapeshifter) shows up, freaks out and there’s almost a fight between Jake and the groom. Bella, her parents, and Alice (the vampire architect of Bella’s wedding) were, again, conventional. Bella was a beautiful, blushing bride. Her Mom was bubbly and happy. Her Dad was suspicious and twitchy. They brought her a beautiful jeweled hair ornament that was dripping with diamonds and sapphires. These people, who are a combination of poor (Dad) and white trash (Mom and her boyfriend) come up with a family heirloom hair piece, something blue, that was more stunning than what Kate Middleton’s parents gifted her with on her wedding day. Note to young people: the new Duchess of Cambridge’s parents are multi-millionaires. I guess the Swan family had better days. Edward, the groom, was happy and rambunctious, flying (literally) out of Bella’s bedroom window (with a ruffle of the curtain) to his vampire bachelor party. That moment reminded me of a great vampire flick, Lost Boys (26 years ago), when vampires came and went on the wind out of bedroom windows, ruffling curtains as well. Odd momentary connection.
There is a conventional (well, by kajillionaire standards) honeymoon on a private island off the coast of Brazil, almost instant pregnancy, and then the last third of the movie is the horrific ravaging of Bella during her vampire pregnancy. She becomes anorexic and drinks blood. She gives birth, horrifically, to a beautiful, perfect, human-looking baby girl. What? Ok. Bella then dies, Edward injects her with his vampire “venom” (with a needle? *shrug* ok) and she comes back a beautiful (but dead) vampire princess. BDII is the final installment that picks up right here, this same time—ONE. YEAR. FROM. NOW. In the middle of all this, there is something about the werewolves wanting to stop all of this from happening. So there is running around in the forest by vampires and werewolves. Jake then looks like he is going in to kill the baby girl (stupidly named Renesme—for Bella’s Mom and Edward’s ostensible Mom and the island where the child was conceived). Jake takes one look at the baby and he “imprints” with her. This means that the werewolves cannot harm Jake nor the baby girl. That’s nice. Then my movie-going friend informed me that Renesme and Jake are now life partners. *blink* Oh. Ok. Whatever. Creepy, much?
Setting aside all the bad messages this movie once again delivers to young girls, the director did a nice job with flickering images of Bella’s whole life passing before her very eyes as she dies. Yet, still—it was haunted and flawed by being really all very conventional (“I saw my life pass before my eyes”) and everything. Meh.
So yeah. It was all so nice and so conventional—and lacking any real attempt at creating a semblance of a vampire underworld…or anything original, cool, interesting, and tension building. Everyone gets what they want, and then some—and no one dies, really. So you do not have real life, you do not have vampire life, you have a contrived, pretty little story of kinky, strange, Romeo and Juliet Mormon-style love and marriage. Meh.
A little video I made for my Mom on Mother’s Day—people she loves and who love her!
Real Vampires Do Not Sparkle
1. Spinsters are used to surviving on their own.
2. Spinsters have well-stocked pantries.
3. Spinsters have access to weaponry and ammo—and have often taken classes to prepare to defend themselves.
4. Spinsters are natural born leaders, teachers, healers (moms, teachers, nurses/docs.)
5. Spinsters have a network already established which connects them to other spinsters. Some spinsters communicate telepathically…but most will rely on walk-talkie and short wave, once the com goes down.
6. Spinsters are brilliant strategists and organizers across any number of disciplines (see number one.)
7. Spinsters kill their own spiders.
8. Spinsters keep their cars and homes in working order and have gardens (oftentimes on rooftops.)
9. Spinsters have a huge supply of candles, matches, batteries, wind-up radios and flashlights on hand.
10. Spinsters have large supplies of chocolate, brownie mix, wine, gin and tonic, narcotics, motrin, excedrin migraine medicine, toilet paper.
11. Spinsters have patrol cats already in place who monitor the perimeter of their residences and act as early warning devices in the instance of zombie and/or malefactor incursion.
12. Spinsters can provide counseling to each other as well as to their small or large band of survivors in order to keep the community mentally alert and prepared to fight to stay alive. Spinsters also have a working knowledge of most anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs once these things are secured from abandoned pharmacies and hospitals.
13. Spinsters often have medieval weapons such as crossbows, swords, battle axes and maces hanging on their walls—formerly used as show and tell pieces for when they taught Arthurian legend—now perfect for zombie eradication.
14. Spinsters have large libraries.
15. Spinsters have an endless supply of paper, pens, and assorted art supplies.
16. Spinsters have ready made armies prepared to die for each other while protecting the community of survivors: current and former students.