REVIEW OF TWILIGHT OPENING
BY JANE WELLS
I was disappointed.
No one dressed up as a bride.
But, then, neither did I. Of course, the freezing wind and spitting snow we had in Michigan last night had something to do with our choice of clothing. In fact, as far as cult-favorite midnight openings go, Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 seemed quite sedate. Perhaps it was because Thursday was a school night and most of the audience was still in high school. In fact, at one point during the movie, I swear I heard a girl next to me snoring quietly.
That’s not to say the 12:15 a.m. showing wasn’t popular. The parking lot was nearly full at 11 p.m. By 11:30 the theater was packed with Twilight fans—and maybe one or two indulgent boyfriends/spouses—with people in groups of two and three still walking all the way down to the front row in search of seating.
The low buzz of chatter gave way to applause when the opening title finally filled the screen and we were once again immersed in the multi-species supernatural drama on the rainy Olympic peninsula.
From audience laughter at the occasionally awkward open-mic speeches at Bella and Edward’s wedding to the nodding sighs of agreement with Leah Clearwater’s cynical assessment of love, the audience was invested once again in the lives of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight characters.
Some of the biggest laughs were for Charlie, Bella’s father, whose self-deprecating humor and not-so-veiled threats if Edward makes Bella unhappy struck just the right note of fatherly love and resignation. The Cullen vampire, Emmett, also amused the house with snide asides and observations.
As in the book, Jacob is torn between love for Bella and self-loathing for being unable to shake that love. Yet, he despises his fellow pack members who have imprinted, considering it a cruel genetic trick that removes freedom of choice. It is the bitter Leah Clearwater who causes him to rethink the outcome of imprinting.
“Being any kind of happy is better than being miserable over someone you can’t have,” Leah says, looking pointedly at her ex-boyfriend and pack leader Sam Uley in the arms of his imprinted Emily.
The big question for most of us at this movie debut was simply: How?
How would director Bill Condon capture the most sensual and graphically violent scenes in the whole Twilight Saga—without earning a restrictive R label. I can tell you this: Somehow he did it. The honeymoon scenes were almost squirm-inducingly sensual, and Renesmee’s birth was bloody and violent, yet more skin and blood can be seen on any given night on television. What I especially appreciated was how imaginatively he envisioned Bella’s transformation from human to vampire—from the inside out as well as the exterior changes as her body heals from the trauma of carrying Renesmee to term. Watching that last red-blood cell turn crystalline and hearing Bella’s heart give one last emphatic thud was satisfying and true to the novel.
New Moon ended with the cliff-hanger of Edward’s proposal, touching off a theater-wide gasp and instant chatter: “I can’t believe they’re making us wait!!!”
Once again, this movie ends in a way that begs the question: “What’s next?”
My only real complaint is that I have to wait a whole year before I get to see the new, unbreakable Bella take on the Volturi.
READ MORE ABOUT JANE WELLS & HER NEW TWILIGHT BIBLE STUDY:
(Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.)