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'Breaking Dawn - Part I': What the Critics Are Saying

Breaking Dawn Poster - P 2011
Summit Entertainment

The "Twilight Saga's" penultimate film starring Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner, opens nationwide at midnight Friday Nov. 18.

The countdown to the Twilight franchise's fourth film, Breaking Dawn - Part I is almost over. 

Bill Condon's movie starring the same familiar faces that have been with the vampire series from the beginning: Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen), Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan) and Taylor Lautner (Jacob Black). 

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Here's what critics have said about the film. 

"Big things happen in this penultimate Twilight entry: Bella and Edward get married, she gets pregnant on their Brazilian honeymoon and almost perishes before giving birth, and finally, after four films and about 490 minutes of screen time depicting simmering desire and superhuman restraint, she wakes up with the red eyes of a vampire. (Spoiler? Hardly.)," The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy said. Though adds," But so little else occurs between these momentous events in Twilight: Breaking Dawn — Part 1 that you can practically hear every second ticking by while awaiting the payoff. "

"When the decision was made to split Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows into two films to bring that blockbuster series to a close, there was cynical talk regarding mercenary motives to milk as many dollars as possible out of the franchise. Once the films came out, however, that talk stopped, so emphatically did the massive narrative incident justify the extended length. On the basis of Breaking Dawn — Part 1, though, the same cannot be said of this series ender, which feels as bloated and anemic as Bella becomes during her pregnancy. The film is like a crab cake with three or four bits of crab surrounded by loads of bland stuffing, but many can't tell the difference or don't care, which will largely be true for its captive audience."

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The New York Times' Manohla Dargis opened her review with a quip: "Dawn isn’t the only thing that gets broken in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part I, the latest and best of the movies about a girl, her vampire and their impossible, ridiculously appealing — yes, I surrendered — love story. Marked by a canny mix of violence and chastity, the franchise has always had plenty of broken heads to go along with its pure thoughts, but here it also features a marital bed reduced to kindling after a rough night."

But, ultimately, she says the fourth film satisfies, writing, "Edward may finally change Bella, but it’s Mr. Condon who resurrects her."

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MSNBC says, "Say what you will about the Twilight films, but never say that the filmmakers do not give fans exactly what they want. These films are not really movies that can be rated as a cinematic experience or judged in the same way you would look at "Citizen Kane." They're awesomely ludicrous fantasy from start to finish, and to argue about whether Bella sets a good example for young women or whether a vampire could really get a human woman pregnant is both irrelevant and yet part and parcel of the whole experience. You buy your ticket, you sit back and strap in. Even those who adore the characters and take the romance seriously have to laugh their way through the ride. Where else are you going to get a chance to see C-section by fang?"

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Time magazine disagreed, titling it's review "Breaking Dawn -- Part I. More Like Breaking Yawn." 

And the disses don't stop there. "The world’s most insipid young lovers, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), finally consummate their love in Breaking Dawn - Part I, the fourth installment in the Twilight series," says reviewer Mary Pols. "This is cause for celebration only because it means our death march through the movie adaptations of Stephenie Meyer’s twisted but steadily Puritanical saga is finally nearing its end."

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Roger Ebert took issue with the PG-13 film's lack of visuals for Edward and Bella's long-awaited consummation. "The morning after her wedding night she is black and blue with bruises, the frame of the bed is broken, all of the furniture is tossed around and the draperies are shredded," he writes. "Good gravy! What happened? We have no idea. The movie doesn't show us!Yes, the most eagerly awaited deflowering in recent movie history takes place entirely off-screen."