Blu-ray review: “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1 (Extended Edition)” and “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2”
A version of this review appears in Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1 (Extended Edition)” and “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2”
“The Twilight Saga” finally finds its bite with the climax of its fifth and final film, “Breaking Dawn — Part 2.”
The fun finale of the blockbuster series drops Saturday on Blu-ray (as well as DVD and digital download), and Summit Entertainment is craftily releasing an Extended Edition of “Breaking Dawn — Part 1” at the same time.
Director Bill Condon helmed both movies based on the fourth novel in Stephenie Meyer’s paranormally popular romance series, and he assuredly covers an astounding swath of narrative ground: “Part 1” opens with a fairytale wedding as human heroine Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) finally marries her courtly vampire fiancé (Edward Cullen), over the protests of her werewolf best friend Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). The first film also covers the long-awaited PG-13-testing honeymoon, Bella’s torturous supernatural pregnancy, her daughter’s disappointingly horror-free birth and Bella’s life-saving rebirth as a vampire.
With “Part 2,” Bella thrills in adapting to her new life as powerful immortal creature, but the arrival of her half-human/half-vampire daughter Renesmee (10-year-old Mackenzie Foy, whose visage is digitally altered to represent different ages at different times) threatens to start a war between the Cullen clan and the Volturi, the ruling coven of the vampire world.
An Oscar-winning screenwriter, Condon proves the most adroit storyteller of the saga’s four directors, and he cannily creates a sense that his two movies are seamless halves of one sprawling story as well as vital pieces of the larger saga.
The “Part 1” Extended Edition incorporates about five added scenes that total eight extra minutes, including a new opening featuring the Volturi that strengthens the ties between to the two films. Condon even recorded a new audio commentary for the longer version that details the inclusion of the new scenes. Unfortunately, the Extended Edition doesn’t include the bonus features that accompanied the initial “Part 1” Blu-ray.
The “Part 2” Blu-ray does include the in-depth supplemental material “Twi-hard” fans have come to expect, starting with a feature-length making-of documentary that can be played picture-in-picture with the film or as a multipart standalone piece. The Blu-ray also boasts a featurette about challenges of filming both movies concurrently, another director’s commentary and the Green Day music video for “The Forgotten.”