A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
What's the story?
Bella (Kristen Stewart) is finally headed down the aisle to her dazzling vampire groom, Edward (Robert Pattinson), even though it breaks her best friend, Jacob's (Taylor Lautner), heart. Thanks to her decision to remain a human until after the honeymoon (possible spoiler alerts!), the newlyweds end up conceiving a half-human, half-vampire baby whose aggressive in-utero growth will likely kill Bella. Edward wants to terminate the dangerous pregnancy, but Bella is willing to sacrifice her life for their baby. Meanwhile, Jacob breaks off from the wolf pack when alpha Sam decides the baby must be destroyed, since its birth violates the treaty between the vampires and werewolves. Bella's only chance at survival is to be turned into a vampire immediately after giving birth, but will it be too late?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Bella and Edward's relationship. Is 18 too young to get married? Should marriage be part of a young adult series aimed at tweens and teens?
Is Bella and Edward's romance a positive example for teenagers? What's your take on the mature issues of sexuality, marriage, and family planning that are addressed in the movie? Parents, take this opportunity to talk to your teens about your own family's values when it comes to these topics.
Because of her focus on Edward (and, to a lesser degree, Jacob), Bella has been unfavorably compared to other young-adult heroines. Why do you think she and the Twilight series remain so popular, and does this popularity convey messages to girls about girls' roles in relationships?
What aspects of the movie were faithful to the book? What scenes are more powerful in the book? In the movie?
- In theaters: November 18, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: February 7, 2012
- Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
- Director: Bill Condon
- Studio: Summit Entertainment
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy
- Run time: 117 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: disturbing images, violence, sexuality/partial nudity and some thematic elements
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.