I never liked the idea of taking a book and splitting it into two movies -- as happened with "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" and is now happening with "Breaking Dawn" of the Twilight series. I've always said, if you can cram "Gone With the Wind" into one movie, it can be done with any adaptation. Why not introduce young viewers to the joys of intermission, a time when movie-goers once feasted on Sno Caps, Milk Duds and flat-topped ice cream cones.
But commercialism wins out over artistic purity these days. So directors have chosen a bifurcated climax for uber-popular series. In addition to the two movies, it yields two premieres and two shots of media hysteria. Half a book generated an estimated $72 million in opening day ticket sales in the United States and Canada, so the financial incentive is clear.
As for Breaking Dawn Part 1, critics seem split. No surprise, since I would bet the Venn Diagram of movie critics and Stephenie Meyer fandom overlaps about this much: )(. Here are excerpts of reviews:
Los Angeles Times: Maybe the studio suits have begun to believe the franchise, like the classy Cullen clan, is immortal, that almost nothing can kill it. They'd better hope that last bit is true, because "Breaking Dawn" kinda sucks, in the metaphoric rather than the vampiric sense. The film doesn't have nearly the bite — ferocious or delicious — that any self-respecting vampire movie really should. It's as if all the life has drained away.
New York Times: Marked by a canny mix of violence and chastity, the franchise has always had plenty of broken heads to go along with its pure thoughts, but here it also features a marital bed reduced to kindling after a rough night. If that doesn't sound like the series that has kept millions of prepubescent viewers virtuously rapt, you're right. But little Bella is all grown up now, and while Edward is still more zomboid than juicily predatory, this time not everything else on screen is dead, too.
E! Online: Breaking Dawn: Part 1 isn't quite as accessible to casual moviegoers, as it does depend on the viewer having followed the plot thus far. But in Bill Condon, it also has a director who puts a very distinct spin on things, walking the fine line of playing the romance absolutely straight while taking the supernatural stuff as seriously as it deserves (which is to say, not at all).