A scene from the new movie.The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (MA)
Nanjing Night Net

General release (117 minutes)

EASY as it would be to leap upon the Twilight-bashing bandwagon, this latest film in the phenomenally successful teen-pleasing vampires v werewolves romantic saga is the most engaging, incident-packed, dramatically satisfying yarn yet. The mood is darker, the stakes are higher and – lo! – the acting from the young cast is actually convincing.

There’s less action, admittedly, but that’s only because the gnarled love triangle between pasty-faced vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson), ab-ripped werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner) and sourpuss mortal Bella (Kristen Stewart) has become more twisted than ever.

Having finally tied the knot, Edward and Bella (looking hot in her unforgiving wedding dress, by the way) honeymoon in Rio. After a bed-smashing session of sex – the film’s first half is thankfully peppered with humour – Bella discovers she’s got a little vampire gestating inside her.

It’s a first for the vampires, and very bad news; not only could the mini-Drac kill Bella, the werewolves decide to void their truce with the vamps and kill her. This puts Jacob in a sticky spot, having to choose between his tribe and the woman he loves.

Devout fans of the previous Twilight films and of the doorstop-sized novels by Stephenie Meyer (a producer on the film) will revel in the film’s carefully measured earnestness. But those forced to see Breaking Dawn under silent protest – fathers, mothers, boys hoping to impress a date – should appreciate the film’s spurning of cliches: these vampires like crucifixes, are fine with daylight and don’t sprout fangs every time they hear the dinner bell.

The film has been hit by nasty reviews from Variety (”disappointing … an unconsummated opportunity”), Screen International (”dramatically leaden tale”), The Guardian (”boring”) and The Hollywood Reporter (”You can practically hear every second ticking by”).

These are unfair, for what none mention, and what deserves high praise, is that the film is as perfectly consistent in tone, style and emotional pitch as the first three. Director Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters; Dreamgirls) clearly knows better than to mess with the formula.

And the film certainly can’t be faulted for not catering to fan expectations. Within the opening 60 seconds Lautner rips off his shirt and bears that cobblestone torso. Now that’s respecting your audience.

The Age