Baby makes three in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1, the fourth film based on the books by Stephenie Meyer, which brings the love story of a mortal and a vampire to a suitably bloody resolution.
Like the climactic outing of Harry Potter, this final chapter of the Twilight series has been cleaved in two, with the concluding instalment due in November 2012.
There’s no credible artistic reason for the separation - the film-makers are simply milking their cash cow twice.
Breaking Dawn - Part 1 stretches a 50-minute narrative into almost two hours of lustful glances, bitter recriminations and CGI-heavy battles between bloodsuckers and their werewolf rivals.
Where one scene would normally suffice, screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg churns out two, underscored with angst-ridden rock and pop.
When one character’s life flashes before their eyes, Rosenberg takes the idea literally and bombards us with a montage of key scenes from the previous three films.
Director Bill Condon’s previous film was Dreamgirls, which had plenty of razzle but no emotional dazzle.
Here, he once again demonstrates a flair for style over substance.
When we left Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), she had chosen vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) over werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner).
Poor Jacob is heartbroken and shows his despair by taking off his shirt in the first 20 seconds of this fourth film and flaunting his gym-honed abs.
Bella and Edward marry soon after in front of her parents (Billy Burke, Sarah Clarke) and his blood-sucking clan: Dr Carlisle (Peter Facinelli), Esme (Elizabeth Reaser), Alice (Ashley Greene), Rosalie (Nikki Reed), Emmett (Kellan Lutz) and Jasper (Jackson Rathbone).
The newlyweds head to a private island off the coast of Rio de Janeiro to consummate their love.
Bella falls pregnant during the honeymoon and a half-human, half-vampire child grows at an accelerated rate, literally devouring Bella from within.
The Quileute wolf pack led by alpha male Sam (Chaske Spencer) prepares to kill Bella and her unborn abomination.
Naturally, Jacob protests and forms a splinter pack with Seth Clearwater (Booboo Stewart) and sister Leah (Julia Jones) to protect the woman he loves.
With Harry Potter consigned to the annals of movie history, tween audiences will sink their fangs into The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1.
Condon sates them with a succession of tasteful love scenes involving Bella and Edward and a climactic coupling that is far less brutal and bruising than the book.
There are moments of unintentional hilarity including a risible imprinting sequence and a disagreement between Edward and Bella about keeping the unborn child, which he refers to as “it”.
“It’s a baby!” argues Rosalie.
“Probably,” adds Jasper, which sounds menacing on the page but is deliciously camp on the big screen.
The opening salvo ends rather curiously with all loose threads seemingly tied and nothing to keep us counting down the days until 2012.
It doesn’t bode well for Part 2.
By Damon Smith
:: NO SWEARING :: SEX :: VIOLENCE :: RATING: 5/10
Released: November 18 (UK & Ireland), 117 mins