CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS. SOB SOB SNIFFLE.
Maybe it's a bit too late to still hold out hope for a franchise to radically improve once it reaches Part 4. It was always a safe bet that the Police Academy series wasn't going to suddenly turn great itself once it got to Citizens On Patrol, and if you didn't like the first three Friday The 13ths then The Final Chapter wasn't going to change your mind. So it is with The Twilight Saga: if you couldn't rack up any enthusiasm for the ludicrously overlong tale of a soulful vampire and an easily annoyed werewolf as they competed for the affections of a miserable teenage schoolgirl, it's not going to suddenly transform into gripping and compelling drama. Similarly, if you are a fan of the series, this entry probably won't disappoint.
The problem with this latest episode - the fourth of five - is not that it's more of the same, although it certainly is more of the same. The last one finished with a soap opera end of season cliffhanger as Edward (Robert Pattinson, dull) suddenly proposed to Bella (Kristen Stewart, wet), and Breaking Dawn: Part 1 kicks off with Jacob (Taylor Lautner, sculpted) ripping his shirt off and disappearing into the woods when he receives his invitation to the wedding. After the ceremony, which appears to have been performed on the forest moon of Endor, Edward and Bella jet off for an idyllic honeymoon on a private island off the Brazilian coast, where everything is perfect - the light, the weather, the ocean, the moonlight. And they finally Get Their End Away.
Such bliss, inevitably, can't last, as Bella falls pregnant. Trouble is, of course, she's human, the father's a vampire, and the embryo is some kind of inbetween thing that we're now told will kill Bella. Flown hurriedly back to the Cullen house and the extended clan, Bella is now gaunt and grey, heavily pregnant far quicker than is natural, and frankly looks like some kind of drug addict: Edward mopes around unable to help, and Jacob keeps changing his mind as to whether he wants to kill Edward, protect Bella, save the baby or return to his tribe. And there may be only one way that she can be saved....
No, it's not that Breaking Dawn Part 1 is more of the same, it's that it's far too much of the same. Even though it's the shortest of the four so far, it's still just under two hours and could really do with serious trimming. (I was actually wondering whether the first three could be hacked down and distilled into one fairly eventful 100-minute feature rather than spread over more than six hours.) I've nothing against substantial running times: the best movies find their own optimum lengths, and a three-hour Carry On Cowboy would be just as wrong as an 80-minute Apocalypse Now. The thing is, these characters simply aren't interesting enough, and don't really do enough, to warrant such a running time not just over this film but the whole of the saga so far.
Lautner gets to do his looking angry, looking sulky and looking besotted (he only takes his shirt off once this time, though); Pattinson spends the bulk of the post-honeymoon section looking miserable and helpless, and Stewart is again so drippy and miserable you can't work out why both the hunky blokes are so obsessed with her. Honestly, she is so wet you could wring her out like a chamois leather. (In addition, she's alarmingly skinny.) The only light relief comes from Michael Sheen camping it up as King Of The Vampires - and he only turns up in an extra bit (between the static credits for director, writer, producers etc, and the final end crawl) which is really a teaser for next year's Breaking Dawn: Part 2. And this movie could really use him to liven things up because it really isn't any fun.
Aside from the autumnal look - everything looks like a commercial for either Timotei shampoo or Flake bars - there's really not a lot I like about the film. Bits of it are silly, there are a lot of dreary guitar dirges on the soundtrack, and much of it is dull: far too much time is spent with what to the adult male mind is more blubbery schoolgirl mush rather than anything dramatic. Again, as with the previous three movies - Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse - I suspect a significant part of my lack of enthusiasm may lie precisely in my not being a fifteen-year-old schoolgirl, and not being a member of either Team Edward or Jacob (or indeed Team Bella). If it's not aimed at me, it's hardly surprising that I don't respond to it as much as the core demographic doubtless will. But it's still annoying that I don't get very much out of it.