Popcorn and a Book (19): Breaking Dawn

The Book: Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer(2009); published by Little, Brown & Company

The Films:

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 directed by Bill Condon (2011)

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 directed by Bill Condon (2012)

***WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!***

In the last “Popcorn and a Book” I took on the first three Twilight books against their respective adaptations, so this week I’m going to tackle the last and largest volume of the saga: Breaking Dawn. In Breaking Dawn, we see Bella and Edward go through pretty much all of the major milestones into adulthood: they get married, go on their honeymoon, have sex for the first time… and, oh yeah, have a kid. And not just any kid: they have a vampire/human prodigy of a kid because apparently undead vampires have very alive sperm. Suffice it to say, I liked this book least of all of Meyer’s books. It no longer felt like a young adult book, but a poorly written adult book. In the last week’s installment of “Popcorn and a Book” I asked, “Where did the love for Twilight go?” For me, it was Breaking Dawn that pretty much killed my obsession with the series.

This book had a very different feel from its predecessors what with their being a section told from Jacob’s perspective. I understand why the p.o.v. switched to Jacob (Bella is couch-ridden and Edward is a frantic mess), but it kind of felt like a cop out when none of the other books had p.o.v changes.

I also felt very disturbed by Breaking Dawn. Bella’s choices are so unhealthy and that really becomes apparent in part 1 of the film. I was impressed by just how horrible they make Bella look in the first Breaking Dawn film, with her sunken cheeks, stick thin limbs and exposed spine. I was disgusted and awed at the same time. And then there is the birth scene. The film really could not capture just how disturbing this scene is without making it a much higher rating. Reading the book, I was so horrified by what was happening. Edward has to bite open her uterus for crying out loud! Ewww! I was glad when the film didn’t show this, but I must admit I did yell at my TV screen “Wipe your mouth, for Pete’s sake!” when Edward proceeds to spend the rest of the film with blood smeared across his chin.

My feelings for the first film are pretty consistent with those for the book: they’re lukewarm at best. The first film starts out very pretty with the wedding clichés and pretty honeymoon island, but I found the beginning pretty dull.

However, my feelings for Breaking Dawn totally changed with the second film. I really enjoyed it. Everyone seems to have really upped the ante with the last installment of the film franchise. The acting was infinitely better—even Kristen Stewart did a good job, which I never thought I would say. It was funny, exciting, and surprising. One of my biggest problems with the book was that the end fell flat without any battle; there was so much build up and then it just fizzled. But the film kept me on the edge of my seat. My hand actually flew to my mouth at times. I was all set to throw a hissy fit that characters were being killed off who shouldn’t be, but, oh wait! The writers are playing tricks! I love the spin at the end. It really had me going. The film is much more exciting than the second half of the book, while still being true to the book, and that makes me give Breaking Dawn Part 2 a thumbs-up as being a great adaptation. Even M. (who can’t stand the Twilight films and has never read a Twilight book) enjoyed this movie. There is less of a romance focus so this installment is much more guy friendly.

The only thing that really irked me about this film was how stereotypical it was with regard to the international vampires. Irish vampires have red hair and wear wool, amazon vampires are decked out in leathers and war paint, native vampires wear buckskin loincloths… I was disappointed with how little creativity went into these characters and their costumes.

I could pass on Part 1, but I definitely recommend watching Part 2.  It’s just a very entertaining film. Is it rife with metaphor and deep intellect? No. Will you enjoy yourself? Absolutely. It might even restore some of the lost love towards the saga.

What did you think of the Breaking Dawn adaptations? Share your answers in comments.

“Popcorn and a Book” is a bi-weekly meme I host where I will compare one book with its adapted film, looking at the content, the way it has been visualized, the experience, etc. If you would like to participate in this meme, please visit the “Popcorn and a Book” main page for details.

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