Sitting in the theater with my best friend:
Me: "I can't believe I'm sitting in this theater about to watch Breaking Dawn."
Friend: "I know, me neither. Why am I here again?"
Me: "For the headboard scene."
Friend: "Hell yeah!"
I do believe I have found the key to tolerating the Twilight movies. Come in with extremely low expectations and be pleasantly surprised, go into the theater assuming it's a comedy, and crack jokes when you see Edward breaking the headboard, Bella being her usual awkward self, and when you hear Renesme's name. I think I'll do this review by character/actor. Are you ready?
~Bella: You expect such a young actress to grow into her role, especially through so many movies in the series and with so many people praying she'll get better. If you were hoping for that in this movie, you'll be disappointed. To be fair, some things weren't her fault. These characters are put into some difficult situations, and she actually reacted like any normal teenager would. Yes, I was shocked as well. But it still doesn't take away from Stewart's awkwardness. If you watch some of her other movies though, it's not that she's a bad actress. When she's in her element of playing a young woman with a messed up life, she hits that nail straight on the head. I actually really liked her in Adventureland and Cake Eaters. She just can't play an angst-ridden teenager who wants to be a vampire. She is physically incapable, and therein lies her horrible acting in these movies. She absolutely LOOKS the part of Bella, but can't act a lick of who she really is in the books. My friends say even I can do a better Bella, though that's probably because I look more like her and I'm not awkward as heck! Bella also looked legitimately like a cracked-out anorexic girl when she was pregnant. Good work by the special-effects and makeup teams, because I could truly believe that she was that disgustingly skinny, and as much as it pained me to see her like that, I had to admit it was done well. Although the birthing scene with Bella was awkward and gross and I had to cover my eyes even though I knew what was going to happen, I think the director and screenwriter did the best as he could with that scene. It's a big task to live up to.
~Edward: I was proud. Rob actually showed some emotion in this one. He had reason to, although it would have been nice to see in the other movies as well. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed him. He was the Edward I've been waiting for with these movies. So kudos RPats, you caught me by surprise with how well you did. And again, he's not a horrible actor. I absolutely loved him in Remember Me and I heard he was great in Water For Elephants. Honestly he stepped up a notch in my head, which hopefully won't change in part II. In the book, I kind of fell in love with Edward all over again, and in the movie, I finally got the Edward I'd fallen in love with. NOW I understand why all the girls out there think RPats is the hottest thing since sliced bread.
~Jacob: Lautner is the worst actor of them all! It might have something to do with the fact that I hate Jacob as a character, but honestly Taylor should have just been a stuntman for his movie career. He cannot act. BUT. But, I wasn't completely disgusted by him this time. I also liked Jacob in the book, and he didn't do the worst job. He was the comedic relief during Bella's pregnancy, as he was in the book, and while he was still awkward I think he stepped it up a bit for this one. I still find myself hating him, but that's probably residual literary hate and the fact that Lautner shouldn't have gotten into acting in the first place. And when Jake imprinted, you could totally hear the actual groans in the theater. I just laughed, because really it is quite ridiculous.
~Renee and Charlie: These two were the best! I love the casting for the roles of the parents and Bella's parents did not disappoint. There's a part where Renee and Charlie see all the graduation hats, and all Renee says is, "How creative!" and flounces off to help Bella get ready for the wedding. And even though this part wasn't in the book, a few characters made speeches at the reception, and Charlie talked about how he was a cop and knew how to hunt down people and could easily wield a gun. It was so classic! And there was another line when they give her the jewel comb thing to put in her hair, and Charlie was like, "We got you something old... besides your mother." Honestly, that's some of the best comedic writing this series has ever seen!
~The Cullens: I have always seen Peter Facinelli as one of the best actors in these movies. He plays his part so well, and I was sad that he didn't have much of a role in this one. Alice, while still a tiny bit of an awkward actress, was cuter than ever and how I pictured the Alice from the book would act like. For those of you who have seen it (and watch out for this line if you haven't), wasn't Jasper's best line, "Maybe"?! I mean, seriously, the whole theater cracked up. He moved forward closer to the camera to make it seem like he was going to say something profound, but all he said was that one word. Just... beautiful. Emmett was punching people like a bada$$ as usual, and Rosalie was playing her part as protector of the unborn fetus. To be honest, I was hoping Rose would be more fierce, like she was in the book, but oh well. Again, low expectations is the key.
~The Wolves: There was this one part where they're all in wolf form and literally all they do is snarl for 5 minutes. It's the part where Sam is trying to get Jacob to bow down to him, and Jacob's like, "No you can't kill Bella," and Sam's like, "You will obey," and Jacob's like, "NO!" and then he breaks free and hip checks Sam on the way back to the Cullen's to warn them. My friend looked at me in the theater, and mouthed, "What the [bleep] just happened." She's read the books too and loves them, but neither of us had the answer. There was also a part that was different from the book, but actually it was a better plot point. *SMALL SPOILER* In the book, when Jake goes to meet with some of Sam's wolves to beg them to leave Bella alone, it's more of an emotional thing. And Quin (or someone else, I can't remember) doesn't want to shift and talk to Jacob in human form because it would hurt too much. Yeah, that scene. Well, in the movie, they use the meeting as a diversion instead so that Carlisle, Esme, and Emmett can escape to get more blood for Bella. I think if Meyer had struck a balance between those two plot points, that could have been a great scene. As it were, they're two mediocre scenes instead. *END SPOILER*
As a side note, my friend and I totally called the fact that the movie would end with Bella opening her red vampire eyes to the world. These movies are nothing if not predictable. Also, as much as I don't want to have to wait to see the disaster that will be part II, I'm glad they split it up into two movies. The two halves really are quite different, and the book is so long that they'd ruin it by trying to cram it into one. Even if it was a 4-hour movie, I don't think I could see through more than two hours of the acting. The score was also better than a couple of the past ones. They used some themes from the score of the first Twilight, which I loved, and the music actually made sense for the mood. I wonder if they hired a different composer. Overall, a must-see if you're a Twilight fan, but not a hard core one. I swear the girl next to me gave the most venomous look I have ever received in a movie theater. If looks could kill.