The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 (Extended Edition)
US BD Release Date: March 2, 2013
Original Release Year: 2011
Rated: Extended: Not Rated, Theatrical: PG-13 (for disturbing images, violence, sexuality/partial nudity, and some thematic elements)
Running Time: Extended: 124 minutes, Theatrical: 117 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English (DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Subtitles: English (SDH), Spanish
On March 21, 2010, I posted a review of “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” on Blu-ray that my wife felt was (somewhat) biased, and is still a topic of discussion whenever I’m assigned to review the next Roger Corman film or “Mystery Science Theater 3000” set on DVD or Blu-ray. When the opportunity arose for me to review parts one and two of “Breaking Dawn,” the conclusion of the “Twilight” series, I asked my wife, Janya, to write the movie portion of these reviews.
Movie: 3.5 out of 5 (Janya’s rating)
Movie: 3 out of 5 (Todd’s rating)
As Breaking Dawn, Part 1 opens, again we step into the drizzly stillness of the Pacific Northwest, reflecting strangely against the teenage angst and tension of a triad of young love. The editing and pacing is a little tighter and this movie moves better through beautiful cinematography (by Guillermo Navarro) filled with more contrasting imagery than the previous films. This movie is best viewed in a very dark room to see the full visual textures of worlds colliding: the cold unyielding Italian stone of the Volturi, the dank quiet of the wilderness, the stark shocking horror of dreams, the awkwardness, hope and beauty of a perfect wedding. Time stands still and begins anew. Bella (Kristen Stewart) commits to her choice between Edward (Robert Pattinson), the withdrawn vampire with a conscience, and the passionate werewolf, Jacob (Taylor Lautner), remarkably retaining the unmeasured devotion of both as they set apart their differences with unlikely maturity. Kristen Stewart’s acting has deepened to portray Bella convincingly as one who could inspire two strong men, representing tribes of mortal enemies to work together effectively. The pace continues with vibrant rhythms of Latin America, an absolutely perfect private beach for the wedding night. It is easy to get drawn into the happiness, joy, and wonders of a honeymoon in paradise. Warning: things turn stark again into a very accurate portrayal of a toxic fatal pregnancy, though the situation and characters are strange and supernatural. The eyes and facial expressions were enhanced to show baby Renesmee (using Mackenzie Foy’s face as a model) as engaged and aware, but this CGI infant version comes off more as a distractingly possessed doll. Fortunately, Bill Condon’s direction as well as Taylor Lautner’s performance and skirmish with the wolves gets things back on track. Then Bella’s crimson eyes open to announce there will be a sequel.
This extended edition adds eight minutes of footage that director Bill Condon eventually regretted cutting for time, pace, and theme, as many of the scenes were fan favorites from the novel by Stephanie Meyers. The most notable new sequence is the prologue with the Volturi leaders (played by Michael Sheen, Christopher Heyerdahl, and Jamie Campbell Bower) receiving an invitation to Edward and Bella’s wedding, which now nicely bookends the film with the epilogue seen during the end credits, foreshadowing the final confrontation between the Volturi and the Cullen clan in Part 2.
Video: 4.5 out of 5
The 1080p transfer, compressed using the AVC codec, retains the film’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1, and replicates the theatrical presentation. Guillermo Navarro’s beautiful cinematography is rendered virtually untouched, with deep blacks, consistent colors that are well-saturated without blooming, and exceptional detail.
Audio: 4.5 out of 5
The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track (folded down to 5.1 by my receiver) is of reference quality, with exciting use of surrounds and LFE while never drowning out the dialogue. Carter Burwell’s nearly wall-to-wall score benefits greatly from the increased dynamic range and higher fidelity. Although listed on the packaging (and the press release), the disc does not contain a Dolby Digital 2.0 English track optimized for late night listening.
Special Features: 3 out of 5
Audio Commentary by Director Bill Condon: The only special feature on the disc is this commentary track by the film’s director, for both the Extended and Theatrical editions. Much of the track is identical to the one found on the previous Special Edition Blu-ray release, with Condon adding comments to the newly restored sequences on the Extended cut. None of the other special features from the previous release have been ported over. I’m guessing the reason is because fans already own that version, and this is a mostly unnecessary (and a bit too soon) double-dip.
Digital Copy/UltraViolet: Lionsgate is one of the few studios still providing both an iTunes compatible and UltraViolet portable copy of their titles (the only other, I believe, is Universal).
Overall: 3.5 out of 5
We can belittle or praise this series of books and films all day, but in the end, the series did earn over $2 billion at the box office, worldwide. The Extended cut has excellent audio and video, but lacks the special features from the theatrical cut. Twihards will more than likely pick up the way-too-soon double-dip just to see the additional footage.
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