Review: 'Breaking Dawn 1' eclipsed by long scenes, loud soundtrack

Emmett (Kellan Lutz, center) and Rosalie (Nikki Reed) help get ready for the wedding in "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1."

Photo by Andrew Cooper, © 2011 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.

Emmett (Kellan Lutz, center) and Rosalie (Nikki Reed) help get ready for the wedding in "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1."

In The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1, Bella and Edward, plus those they love, must deal with the chain of consequences brought on ...

Rating: PG-13 for disturbing images, violence, sexuality/partial nudity and some thematic elements

Length: 108 minutes

Released: November 18, 2011 Nationwide

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli

Director: Bill Condon

Writer: Melissa Rosenberg, Stephenie Meyer

More info and showtimes »

The decision to split "Breaking Dawn," Stephenie Meyer's last book in the "Twilight" series, into two parts has created a pair of films as different as Edward and Jacob.

The first half, "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1" is packed with as many emotional and contemplative moments as the brooding vampire, while the second half will have the kind of action that makes a werewolf howl. It's a similar structure to the two halves of the final "Harry Potter" adaptation: The first "Deathly Hallows" film concentrated more the personal connections of the main characters and saved all the action for the second movie. The division would have been OK if director Bill Condon hadn't stretched scenes to the point of tedium and cranked up the volume of the soundtrack to annoying levels.

"Breaking Dawn — Part 1" deals with the wedding of Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson), their energetic honeymoon and her immediate pregnancy. The wedding is beautifully staged, but it begins to lose its power because Condon extends the sequence with a series of wedding toasts that are too light and silly for such an emotional moment.

And the honeymoon sequence seems to run longer than a Kim Kardashian marriage. Who knew vampires liked to play chess so much on their honeymoons?

Condon has turned up the soundtrack so loud that half of the film plays more like a music video than a feature. Instead of the music helping set the mood, it slams into scenes with such unabashed fury that it becomes distracting. That might work in the second film, but with this half so wrapped up in emotional moments it seems a lighter volume would have worked much better.

The film features such a large cast that only Taylor Lautner and Stewart get a lot of opportunities to show their acting skills. Lautner has certainly grown as an actor since the first movie, and he gets the most out of the big moments.

"Breaking Dawn" does give Stewart her first real opportunity to act. In the past films she wasn't pushed past being the dour object of everyone's affections. She gets to grow up here and play the nervousness of a teen on her wedding night and a caring, expectant mother.

This review is not for loyal "Twilight" fans who will camp outside theaters to be the first to see the latest movie in the series. The sight of Bella walking down the aisle will be enough to make them swoon. But for any oblivious people who stumble into the film without having seen the others, the biggest problem is that it's one long setup for "Part 2." It's like getting married and being told you have to wait a year for your wedding night.

© 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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