It has taken four years and four directors to bring this supernatural romance fantasy, based on the popular young adult novels by Stephenie Meyer, to a close - almost.

Inspired no doubt by the two-part Harry Potter finale, The Twilight Saga's fourth and final book has been split in two. To get the bad news over up front, Twihards are going to have to wait until November 2012 to see how director Bill Condon plays out the ending in Part 2.

The Twilight Saga, in case you've been busy for the last four years, is a Romeo and Juliet love story between 18-year-old Bella Swan (Stewart) and vampire Edward Cullen (Pattinson). It's a relationship that has caused a lot of stress around Forks, the wet rural town in Washington State where Bella and Edward live.

Bella's dad, a few nasty vampires, and a local pack of werewolves, which include Taylor Lautner's Jacob (who is madly in love with Bella), have all over the past three films threatened Bella and Edward's relationship.


Finally though, in Breaking Dawn: Part 1 all the melodramatic getting together and breaking up we've suffered through comes to an end with the film diving straight into Bella and Edward's wedding. It's a sweet and romantic affair, with the wedding speeches providing almost the only intentional laughs in the film.

The wedding is followed by a honeymoon on an island off the coast of Brazil (possibly not the best choice for a vampire), the conception of Bella and Edward's baby and its life-threatening arrival into the world. Phew.

It all sounds action-packed, but it's not really; unlike the successful two-part Harry Potter finale the material here is a little thin on the ground.

The US$1.8 billion ($2.35 billion) or so taken at the box office for the previous three films likely had something to do with the decision to split the final book, and the story padding is provided in large part by intense longing looks between Bella and Edward, Bella and Jacob, and, well, Bella and anyone for that matter.

With the story focused on Bella, Edward and Jacob, the quota of bloodthirsty action and new characters is down on the previous films. This is noticeable as director Condon fails to hit what should be dramatic high points with any real emotional punch. Instead they tend to get lost in sweeping music, cringe-worthy dialogue or overly dramatic performances, in particular by Lautner.

While Condon is the fourth director to take on this franchise, the film's tone is consistent with its predecessors.

Breaking Dawn Part 1 does its job; story-wise it's a game changer with Bella moving closer to living an immortal's life and it does leave you interested in what might happen next, but unless you are a true fan it doesn't produce quite enough anticipation and hype to keep that momentum going for another year.

Stars: 2.5/5
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
Director: Bill Condon
Running time: 117 mins
Rating: M (Violence and sex scenes)
Verdict: A drawn-out beginning of the end Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart) make it down the aisle in Breaking Dawn: Part 1.