Rotten Tomatoes rating for Breaking Dawn Part 1 says it all: 26% of critics enjoyed it, and 92% of audiences. This is not going to be an Oscar-winning movie by any means. However, it will be entertaining to fans of the series - either the movies or the books - and that is really all you can ask for with a global phenomenon like Twilight.
The latest installment drops us back into the Twilight world with no backstory, as is common with the series; it's counting on its fans to know the backstory. It opens with the wedding of Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson), and Bella has wedding day jitters. Her dad, Charlie (Billy Burke, Red Riding Hood), walks her down the aisle, and as soon as she sees Edward her fears go away. During the wedding reception, some of the werewolves show up (in human form), and there is a bit of trouble, but nothing major. After the reception, Edward whisks Bella off to a secret location for their honeymoon, which ends up being an island that was gifted to them by his family, near Brazil.
Everything is idyllic there, and Bella asks Edward for sex their first night. I say "asks" because it is actually a big risk for them: since he is a vampire, and much, much stronger than her, there is a possibility that he could badly hurt her during it. It goes well, though, except for a few bruises on Bella; actually too well, as she soon finds out she is pregnant with a half-human, half-vampire baby, which everyone previously thought was impossible.
They return to the Cullen's house in Forks, telling Charlie that Bella caught a bug and they will be staying on the island for a few more weeks, and Bella's condition rapidly deteriorates, since the fetus is draining all of her nutrients and crushing her from the inside. At the same time, the werewolf clan decides that the creature she is carrying must be killed, since it will be harmful to everyone; however, they must wait until Bella gives birth, because Bella is human, and according to the vampire-werewolf treaty that has long been in place, neither of them are allowed to kill humans.
The beginning of the movie has a few light laughs throughout, during the wedding scene ("And so then she became obsessed with the Cullens, of course. I mean, she wasn't even captain of the volleyball team ...," says Anna Kendrick's character, and Bella's friend, Jessica, who apparently had harbored a crush on Edward). The honeymoon, too, has more of a lighthearted tone, but once Bella becomes pregnant, the movie becomes more serious. I also think that the Twilight director and producers have finally figured out whom their "market" is, as this movie seemed to be geared more towards teenagers, from the music to the way scenes were set up. The birth scene, however, is done very nicely, albeit with lots of blood, as is the ending of the film.
So should you see this movie? Yes. My guess is that if you are a Twilight fan, you are already planning on it, regardless of what this review says. The film could have been better, but was decent enough, in my opinion, and I am a fan of the books and movies. It's not the worst of the Twilight films by far (that honor goes to New Moon, in which Bella moped around for 90% of the movie), and in my opinion, the critics are being too harsh about it. 99% of the time, when you are making a film out of a novel, the novel will be better, and this is definitely the case here, but Breaking Dawn Part 1 managed to hold my attention throughout its 111 minute runtime, and it will whet your appetite for Part 2, which unfortunately will not be in theaters until November 16, 2012.
And don't forget to stay through the credits: about midway through, there's an additional scene that sets up Part 2 nicely.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 111 minutes, and is currently playing in theaters.