The original Twilight movie, released back in 2008, remains the best film in the series... or, perhaps the worst, depending on how you see it. The exact same could be said of Eclipse (Sorry, New Moon. No one loves you). The third entry in the franchise is easily the most sure in its craft, Director David Slade handling the ever-silly story with a largely straight-face, staging sequences of action and dialogue that finally, for once, prompted genuine, non-mocking interest rather than stifled laughter. Catherine Hardwicke's 2008 original, on the other hand, is all about stifled laughter, complete with hilariously bad special effects, cheese-ball dialogue and performances, and a mind-numbingly simplistic view of both High School life and young romance. All of these things make it the worst in the lineage, but the goofy, dunder-headed mirth that one feels while watching it is without match. If you plan on putting any level of stock my opinion of the newest vampire romance, Breaking Dawn Part 1, it is important that you first understand my warped standard for the series: This is a moronic story, worthy of gleeful mockery, and by that standard, the worst entries in the saga are far and away the most enjoyable.
Breaking Dawn Part 1 opens with the preparation for a wedding, star-crossed lovers Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) making sheepish, amorous eyes at each other as Jacob (Taylor Lautner) continues to pout furiously in the rain. Their matrimony occurs in a wooded area, cloaked in cascading white foliage (awww!), and when it's over, Bella is whisked away on a honeymoon that turns out to be just as wrought with sexual tension as the rest of their courtship. Crazy things go down, a plethora of native Americans tackily transform into werewolves, and Bella sighs a lot. This is Twilight.
When Bill Condon first signed on for this climactic double-feature, I wondered if the director of such, 'actual movies,' as Gods and Monsters, Kinsey, and Dreamgirls was brought in to finally take this story into more intellectual, adult territory. Thank god this is not the case. Condon's directorial stamp is almost no where to be found: The only way that anyone would think this chapter had a different helmer than the rest is if they were told. The performances remain wildly over-the-top, and completely unbelievable, a true accomplishment in ineptitude considering that Stewart and Pattinson are real-life lovers.
The penultimate Twilight entry is receiving some of the worst reviews of the series, and it's not hard to see why. The movie is lengthy, slow-moving, and completely fails to justify splitting the last book in two; Not only is Part 1 punishingly uneventful, but it also leaves one with the impression that there's even less ground to cover in the upcoming climax. And all of this, yes, all of this, is why the first half of Breaking Dawn stands as my second favorite Twilight flick. It might be the very worst of the sequels, but it's also the guiltiest pleasure, and the funniest unintentional comedy, both of which are paramount to my enjoyment of these things. We're talking about a yarn that is essentially trivial and hollow here, so the more trivial and hollow, the better. Breaking Dawn Part 1 is a pretty lousy movie, and that's just why I loved it.
Grade (By, 'Real,' Movie Standards): D+
Grade (By, 'I know Twilight is the bane of man, but I just can't help myself,' Standards): B+