Breaking Dawn: Part I (Blu-ray)

February 17, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Nearly four years ago I finally accomplished what I call a “milestone” in that I’d finally finished the Harry Potter series of books. That’s a few thousand pages and I’m sure some of you reading this already know that. But, with the accomplishment behind me I started to think “Ok, now what.” At the time I’d heard a lot about a new series of books that featured vampires. Television’s True Blood wasn’t yet on the air so I figured that I’d give it a shot. I was clamoring for something in the same realm of the Potter books that’d so entertained me, so I moved on from Harry, Ron and Hermione to Edward, Bella and Jacob. As it turned out, the two series’ have a lot in common. The first movie, Twilight snatched the spot vacated by Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince when they moved it to a summer release. And, as any die-hard fan knows, the actor who plays Edward in the series was also the ill-fated Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
[message_box type=”alert” icon=”yes”]Warning! Potential spoilers ahead.[/message_box]
Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart) have been through a lot together. But now, after High School graduation, they’ve decided to tie the knot. As only a select few know, Edward is a vampire and is thus immortal. Bella is well aware of this and has been accepted by Edward’s “family.” They’re married and go on a honeymoon. The end. Of Part I. Ok, there’s actually more to it than that, but in a nutshell that’s essentially all the first part of the last movie really is. Readers of the book will know what’s on the horizon, but there’s simply not a lot of action going on in this movie. Bella becomes pregnant in, literally, record time and the main concern is if she’ll survive the pregnancy. The underlying drama is that the vampires’ truce with the “wolf pack” led by Jacob (Taylor Lautner) is now at risk. Add to that the fact that Jacob has always had feelings for Bella and there might be some trouble.

Let’s face it, had Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows not broken the final movie into two parts, I highly doubt that we’d have two Breaking Dawn’s but I do realize that movies are a business and why make $200 million when you can make $400 million? Exactly. This is merely a lead into the final chapter of the final movie and nothing more. If there was ever any comparison to the Harry Potter films, I hope that they can close the book, pardon the pun, on that debate. While those movies never ceased to entertain, the Twilight franchise seems to be milking things for all their worth. It’s not so much that Breaking Dawn: Part I is bad, though the 4.7 rating on IMDB might be more of an indicator there, it just felt unnecessary. Then again, if you’ve read all the books and seen all the movies so far, are you really going to stop now? Right.

Video: How does it look?

As is consistent with the rest of the movies, this is shown in a 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer that looked a bit soft to me. I realize that the vampires have to look flawless, with their makeup making them look ageless. Still, the entire image seemed to be a tad bit out of focus. Now this isn’t distracting as the image is sharp, clear and detailed but I think that I was expecting something a bit more. There are some good scenes, namely of the “honeymoon” suite on a desert island. Colors there tend to be warm and bright, though the majority of the movie takes place inside. Colors are a bit on the darker side as we see the dark circles under Bella’s eyes getting more and more pronounced throughout the film. For a new to Blu-ray film, my expectations were a bit higher, though this is by no means a “bad” transfer.

Audio: How does it sound?

While the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack has a few moments, this is by and large a very subdued track. Dialogue takes charge here and I think I’ve commented in past reviews how Edward (Robert Pattinson) tends to mumble his lines. There are a few good “chase” scenes with the wolf pack through the woods, but they’re few and far between. The instrumental score sounds halfway decent, but I think I was taken by how soft this soundtrack really sounded. Moments of greatness? Yes, a few. Still, this isn’t really one that will test the limits of your speakers.

Supplements: What are the extras?

With the domestic gross of this film inching towards the $300 million dollar mark, there wasn’t a real need to include a lot of extras. Well, there was a need, they’re just not present. Well, let me recant that, we do get a somewhat entertaining commentary track with director Bill Condon as he gives us a few behind-the-scenes tidbits here and there. We do get a half hour (divided into half a dozen parts) featurette that explores some different aspects of the film, namely the wedding dress (was it really that big of a deal?) and some of the visual effects that they used on actress Kristen Stewart to make her appear even skinnier than she already was. These are interesting, though not really mind-blowing. Lastly we get “Jacob’s Destiny” focusing on the constantly-evolving character. We also get a “Wedding Video” in which the cast, in character, give their best wishes to Edward and Bella.

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