Friday, November 18, 2011

I Watched Breaking Dawn Pt. 1. - Tell Everyone I Love Them And That I Regret Nothing

UPDATE: I also did a vlog on Breaking Dawn Pt. 2.

-“Why are you writing about it? Why can’t you just enjoy it?”
-“I won’t enjoy it unless I write about it.”

It’s obvious that making fun of Twilight is no longer cool. I’m obviously doing that also, but that’s not what this is doing. I only have a little interest in making fun of Twilight. Like most things I’ve been making lately, it’s up to you to figure out what it is I am doing.

Six or so years ago, I went to a lecture and book signing for Emerson Spartz, a lanky shit super nerd who founded, a fan website capitalizing on the success of the Harry Potter books and films. Also, he did this.

To Azkaban with you! 25 to yuck with no parole! Although I had read all of the Harry Potter books and quite enjoyed them, in all honesty I only went because I had a crush on this.

Despite her, that still didn’t mean that I didn’t have an opinion on how the Harry Potter saga should have ended, it was just that I didn’t really give a shit about what this squirrelly-faced kid speculated about a fictional teenage wizard. The setup for the final book couldn’t have been more perfect. They set the stage for the larger than life battle between good and evil. Lines drawn and stakes set. Let’s go. Who would later become my high school newspaper advisor speculated that Harry would destroy all magic, so that the possibility of evil through magic would cease to exist. The more I thought about it the more it made sense. There was nothing indicating that Voldemort was particularly special, or that someone else couldn’t repeat his legacy with the same social awkwardness, hunger for muggle blood and stack of Megadeath albums. I thought of stories like The Lord of The Rings, Narnia and Star Wars. The protagonist never just won. Something had to die in the hands of good in order to change everything forever. Harry couldn’t just kill Voldemort; he had to kill magic. He had to destroy what was most beautiful and precious given to him in order to end the darkness that overshadowed it. I approached Emerson Spartz with this theory. Little did I know he didn’t give a shit about what I thought. He basically called me an idiot because magic good, destroy magic would be bad. There used to be a video of this exchange online, but it has since been lost. What a tragedy that is.

While in the actual ending Harry did not destroy magic, it was by no means simple. Quite honestly, almost everything thematically happened that would have happened if Harry had destroyed magic, except that there was no physical collateral (save around 8-12 minor characters, that is). I feared a complete happy ending and felt that was what I got. Happy endings have the hardest time being great. Although I ended up liking the ending to Harry Potter, I have never escaped that feeling that Harry got off a little too easy. Perhaps later in life I will learn to love that ending more. Maybe someday happy will be ok.

(I just looked at the release date for Breaking Dawn and the fact just DAWNED on me that this movie won’t come out for over a year. I am going to shove this .docx in a dirty cabinet and revisit in in a year. We might not even be using .docxs anymore! As a reader, this jump won’t appear to be all that long. I would just like to say that I am very sad right now and hope I am happier when I revisit this.)

You guys have no idea how long I’ve been this Twihard. I am so much happier now, but sadly this does not change the fact that this movie is coming out tomorrow, and that I am going to watch it, while sad.

Three things in life confuse me more than anything else- adolescence, vampires, and Mormonism. Twilight has all three. It was for this reason that I chose to tackle the task of watching three movies in that "saga" in one horrible day, documenting my sorrows along the way in a desperate attempt for both enlightenment and attention, one of which I succeeded at attaining much more than the other.

To recap, because I know we all need a recap, because even the thought of not having a recap at this point in this essay would be insane, Twilight is a heartwarming story of an uninteresting, emotionally ambiguous girl enamored with the undying affection of an emotionally torn vampire and a beefcake werewolf (insert picture of beefcake werewolf). The story teaches pre-teenage girls that even in the event of what is most emotionally trying, jumping off a cliff is always an option. Never rule out jumping off a cliff, pre-teenage girls! At least, Bella didn’t. In fact, that was the first thing that came to her mind. "Now this'd be a beautiful death," said Bella as she jumped off a cliff. Let's just watch the movie.

Breaking Dawn – Pt. 1 (2011) – From the director of Dreamgirls

It should be said that it has been years since I have been exposed to Twilight. I had to prime myself with my own writing before watching the movie, which you’re free to also do right here.

The movie opens to a nice quote about leaving adolescence, which the rest of the movie will try to convince us that Bella is an 18-year old big girl now. Then the movie jumps into full-on wedding mode and all of us just start squealing like guinea pigs for the next 40 minutes or so. So Bellward are getting married and have just agreed on the invitations. Upon receiving the invitation, Jacob is furious that they ignored his suggestion and printed it on engraved cardstock, so he rips off his shirt and heads for the hills, assumedly the nearest Hallmark Store to DEMAND to speak to the manager. When we last left Jacob Black, a werewolf who is also an overt rapist and big time dickbag, he was hmph-ing around. He spends most of the movie doing pretty much that. Meanwhile, Edward checks on Bella to see if she has cold feet. “My feet are toasty warm,” says Bella. In classic Edward form, he begins to feel guilty for something that’s not that serious (he used to eat out murderers, don’t ask it doesn’t have anything to do with anything). Suddenly all the Vampire Boys show up to take Edward to his bachelor’s party, because after all, 10,000 year-old boys will be boys. Bella dreams of her wedding, the Volturi (who don’t show up in this entire movie and are in no way a part of the conflict but undoubtedly will be in the final part) are there, and suddenly Bedward are standing over everyone’s dead bodies, a shot almost entirely lifted from Maus. Not soon enough comes the wedding, which is a doozy. A cutesy Iron and Wine song plays over the wedding vows and the two kiss as if (literally) nobody’s there, which is very teen paranormal romance.

An aside about Edward – I think I wrote about my dissatisfaction with the movie’s unrealistic expectation of love before, but this movie certainly takes it to new heights. I mean, shit, Edward takes Bella to Rio de Janeiro so that he can take her somewhere that is even MORE ROMANTIC. John Cusack didn’t have Expedia, but for fuck’s sake. Even Coach Taylor miscommunicates with his wife. Edward Cullen is denied negative human attributes, and him simply being a vampire in love is no excuse for this.

There’s a montage of wedding toasts, which doesn’t serve any purpose, but is actually funny. Jacob shows up after pacing around in the woods for a bit and says to Bella, “kind is my middle name,” which is just a cool thing to say about yourself. Then they get to talking about vampire fucking, and Jacob Kind Black is suddenly christened Jacob I’m Super Shitty The Rest Of The Movie Black, who doesn’t leave the movie until he [spoiler alert] falls in love with a baby. Now, I’m not even going to pretend to know the rules of vampire fucking, but apparently everyone knows that it’s not a good idea if you’re a human. As with so much in these movies, I found myself just going along with it.

Bella is nervous about having sex, feverously brushing her teeth and shaving her legs, which was a genuine depiction of human timidity that made me care about Bella as a character more than anything else previously. AT THE SAME TIME, she was not concerned that having sex with a vampire might kill her, which seemed like a glaring omission. The movie undoubtedly holds some weird conservative views of abstinence and abortion. Take this quote- “Abstaining from human blood makes us more civilized— lets us form true bonds of love.” -A real quote from Breaking Dawn (the book) It made me remember my elementary school WRE (Jesus) class I would take in a trailer outside of school where that one homeless person would break into and sleep at night. (He had mason jars of his urine and rolls of toilet paper stashed on the dashboard of his pickup.) The teacher/pastor once spoke with vague, sappy language why abstinence was inherently special and acceptable in the eyes of God, in her eyes. I was a kid and didn’t know shit about sex or love, and certainly didn’t feel I knew any more after she told us that. Not that I’m saying the movie is doing this, necessarily, but I will say that I find neither incredibly instructive concerning sex nor love.

In a next couple of surprisingly sexy scenes, Edwardella end up sexing. Bella wakes up to a bruised body and ravaged room, because vampires will be vampires. Edward feels bad that he’s kinky and as a result puts Bella in the friend zone, and they do friend stuff. In the greatest stretch of belief required for the movie, we see Edella deep in thought over a chess match.

I almost fell asleep in every scene with Jacob talking to his family, because I somehow cared less about that storyline. But anyway, Shitty’s mom or aunt or maid says to Jacob, “Being any kind of happy is better than being miserable about something you can’t have,” which is a very bold statement that I’m not sure if I agree with. I’m always suspicious of anything that ignores the potential positive benefits of a healthy dose of sadness. I mean, if happy is happy is happy in Twilight, then everyone’s life sucks, and I don’t think life sucks as much as I don’t think happily ever after is something that actually happens.

But before we have enough time to think about it, Bella eats some chicken and throws up, thinking it’s the chicken and not the vampire baby growing inside of her. Then *ding* she realizes her period’s late and *dong* she’s 18 and vampire pregnant. A postulate in the vampire-fucking guidelines states that the baby will kill Bella. We are officially out of the friend zone frying pan and into the baby fire. It has taken well over an hour for us to get to this point, and still there is arguably no conflict in sight. Classic The Twilight Saga.

Everyone debates just what it is inside Bella’s uterus, and it seems like this is meant to be a stupid discussion about abortion that I realllllllly don’t care to read into at all. Jacob tries to convince Bella to have a vampire abortion, which they don’t underline the logistics of (for instance- where is the Planned Parenthood for vampires?)

Back in the Black reservation of Cougar Town, the werewolves all suddenly want to kill Bella, breaking the treaty between the two warring families. The werewolves hang out around the house, because they want to attack when they have the upper hand, or something stupid. The point is Bella has to stay put. Pretty much the last half of the movie is at the house. Edward Yahoo image searches “vampire baby” on his iMac and comes up with Goya’s “Saturn Devouring His Son,” and Edward is all, “My life is Twilight.” Alice Cullen, the hot manic pixie dream girl, tells Bella that “your fetus isn’t compatible with your body” like it’s a hard drive. Bella’s health worsens because the baby is thirty for blood, so Skeletella drinks blood. Edward even gets her a straw because he is so sweet. She likes the taste, which I found a little odd that the movie would hint that she SHOULD be a vampire.

Bella chooses a dumb baby name that Edward obviously thinks is great, because he’s the “perfect man.” Oh, and while we’re here… “I should be treated like a princess.” –Heidi Montag, The Hills

Bella enters vampire labor and Edward eats the baby out of her stomach, killing Bella. Jacob Shitty Black says to Edward literally seconds after she dies, “You deserve to live with this,” which I thought was cruel, even for Jacob. Upon everyone learning of her death, everyone gets really shitty with the baby. Jacob walks up to Renesmee, intending to kill her, and instead is hit with love at first sight, which is the greatest rebound of rebound king Jacob Black’s life.

5 Things Jacob Black Will Say to Renesmee Cullen-

1. “You kiss just like your mother when she was your age.”
2. “I fell in love with you when you were five minutes old. They don’t call me Jake the Snake for nothing.”
3. “I only date girls my age divided by two plus seven minus 20.”
4. “Your mother used to bite her lip just like that. All the time.”
5. “What do you mean you can’t make it to Tuesday’s NAMbLA meeting?”

Edward is trying to save Bella, injecting her with his venom in order to make her a vampire, but she’s already dead. He bites her all over her body, but with no luck. Jacob goes outside and reveals he fell in love with a baby. Edward says something to effect of, “It’s their most supreme law!” The werewolves leave. Bella wakes up a vampire.

Yes, the resolution of The Twilight Saga- Breaking Dawn: Part 1 is a Deus Ex NAMbLA.

Stray Observations -

• I forgot Anna Kendrick was in this. She’s the best actor in this movie and has the least screen time.
• This movie clocks in at around two hours! That’s pretty long for a movie where not much happens.
• There are a lot of rack focuses in this movie, more than there were in Dreamgirls.
• I was thinking this entire time, “Why doesn’t she have a vampire c-section?” I hope God will be ok with the whole non-vaginal vampire birth.
• Jacob – “Don’t do that.”
Bella – “What?”
• I do not have many stray observations about this movie.

I was trying to remember why I began writing this essay over a year ago with the story of how I spoke with Emerson Spartz at the now closed Borders, and I think I remember why. It wasn’t to compare the two series. Everyone always does that and it doesn’t make any sense. It was the setup of the end of Harry Potter that I found beautiful. "The Half Blood Prince" will always be my favorite book of the series because there was so much that book made me want to happen, so much that it overwhelmed me and made me believe that everything I wanted was impossible. That's a pretty amazing thing for any book to do, let alone a children’s book, and something that I obviously don't feel entering the last chapter of the Twilight Saga. I found it easily the worst movie in the saga as far as storytelling. I now realize why that doesn’t matter, why anything I write will not deter those who care about Twilight. It’s because they care about these non-characters. I used to regard those reasons for caring as stupid, but I’m beginning to think they’re far more intentional. Edward Cullen is hyper-specific because nobody can be Edward Cullen, just as nobody can be Howard Roark or a prince charming character. Bella Swan is vague because we can all be Bella Swan. Many of us have mothers and fathers who will have to “let us go” in the most cliché, Twilight way possible. In the wedding scene, no young woman watching is thinking about Bella Swan. I know I wasn’t. Those who care about Twilight care about themselves, and there is nothing wrong with that.

With that said, here's my video review of the movie.

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