A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Bella doesn't rely on Edward to make an important, possibly self-sacrificing choice for her (having their baby). And despite the controversial pregnancy, the movie offers a positive outlook on what constitutes a "family" and how love can take many different forms. But Bella and Edward's marriage remains a sticky issue, since it's not widely considered a good idea for teens to consider marriage right out of high school.
Positive Role Models
For once, it's Bella -- not Edward -- calling the shots, so regardless of how you feel about her decision regarding her pregnancy, it's hers to make. The Cullens are all selfless, generous, and peace-loving vampires. Jacob is at his best in this installment. Despite disagreeing with Bella, he guards her life -- and just when you think he's going to do something monstrous, he redeems himself.
Violence & Scariness
(Note: Potential spoiler alerts.) Although, action-wise, this isn't the most violent of the Twilight movies, the extended and unforgettably bloody birth sequence seems straight out of a horror movie (though it's still far less bloody than the description in the book). There's also lots of pain during this scene, including scalpel cuts, the sound of breaking bones, and many screams. At one point, viewers briefly see Edward biting his way through Bella's uterus; he then pulls out the bloody baby, while Bella is also covered in blood and seems about to die. Edward then attempts to revive her with his venom by biting her on all of her pulse points. Bella looks frighteningly emaciated and on death's door throughout her pregnancy, and there are a few minutes when it seems she actually has died. There are several conversations about abortion, "getting rid" of the pregnancy, and "fetus" vs. "baby" debates. Bella drinks blood on several occasions like it's a milkshake. The wolves fight each other and, in one scene, the Cullens. Jacob looks poised to beat Edward up on a couple of occasions and even agrees to kill him should Bella die in childbirth. A brief cameo by the Volturi shows their humorous (to them) decision to have a human employee killed; in a bloody nightmare sequence, the Voluturi also kill many key characters -- their bodies are shown. A flashback shows Edward violently biting and killing three unsavory men.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
After sharing a couple of passionate kisses and getting married, Bella and Edward finally consummate their relationship on their honeymoon. Viewers see bare backs and other flashes of skin as Bella and Edward skinny dip (backs, chests, and a quick glimpse of Bella's breasts from the side as she embraces Edward), make out passionately in the water, and then move to the bed; there are also breathing sounds, lingerie shots, etc., and Edward is seen on top of Bella and consequently breaks the bedframe with his passion (he also bruises Bella). On another occasion, Bella has a sexy dream and wakes up pleading with Edward to make love. She also wears pretty skimpy lingerie and swimsuits. After the honeymoon, the romance is limited to one quick glimpse of the wolves and their mates kissing on the beach and some chaste embraces.
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Less swearing than most PG-13 movies. Words include "pissed off," "crap," "bloodsucker," "damn," and "hell."
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Products & Purchases
The entire Cullen household is outfitted with Apple computers, Bella and Edward drive around in a Volvo (a car that's also available in real life), and there's a Tampax product placement. Off-camera, the movie franchise has huge merchandising tie-ins with cosmetics, apparel, accessories, toys, and more (even wedding dresses!).
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults enjoy champagne (Bella's parents a bit too much) at Bella and Edward's posh wedding reception.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this next-to-last installment in the Twilight series is sure to attract throngs of tween, teen, and adult fans of the book-and-film phenomenon. But parents of tweens and younger teens should know that this adaptation faithfully follows the book's mature, disturbing storyline concerning an extremely dangerous pregnancy. Although the action-based violence is mostly confined to a couple of werewolf vs. vampire skirmishes, the birth scene is like something out of a horror film; it's brimming with blood and gore and agonizing pain (though still less than what was in the book). Also, after three movies of abstinence, Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) finally consummate their relationship in a bed-breaking honeymoon scene that shows a lot of skin but nothing R-rated. Families wary of discussing abortion or family planning should know that much of the film deals with those issues. There are also some sad/poignant goodbye scenes. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This first installment in the two-part finale is all relationship melodrama with very little action, so fans of the special effects-driven fight scenes will be disappointed. Director Bill Condon faithfully focuses on the soap-operaish bits -- the quickie wedding (which provides the movie's first and last look at Bella's hilariously confused human friends, who wonder, "Who gets married at 18?"), the romantic honeymoon, and the ensuing high-risk pregnancy that culminates in one of the most horrific birth scenes (worse than Rosemary's Baby!) ever put on film.
After Bella discovers her pregnancy, the movie basically turns into a pro-life discussion, which will endear some viewers and appall others. At least Lautner finally shows that he can do more than scowl and show off his six-pack as he grieves (and cries!) for his beloved best friend. Stewart and Pattinson's penchant for broodiness is perfectly matched with Bella's sickly and Edward's bereft demeanor. The thin plot (no one really believes the wolves are a threat with Jacob so devoted to Bella, so it's all about the pregnancy) is so over-the-top with the "fetus" vs. "baby" arguments that by the time the birth happens, it's just a relief to be done with the discussion. With its faithful depiction of key passages and lines, BREAKING DAWN is likely to please Twihards but could disturb casual fans.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.