I went to the midnight showing last night and am still trying to process everything that I saw.   Couple that with my lack of sleep last night, and I’m sure that I’ve missed some things.  I’m going again with another friend in a couple of hours and I’m sure that my take on some things will probably shift as a result.

My first impression review will be very high-level and I won’t give away any major plot spoilers.  Anything that I mention is common knowledge if you’ve followed any of the Twilight news and seen the press junket clips and articles.

Overall…I LOVED IT!  I left feeling that this was the best one yet.

I felt that the acting was much better this time around and we get to see so much more from the rest of the cast.   It’s not so much the Edward/Bella/Jacob show that we’ve become accustomed to seeing.    Sometimes Taylor’s performance as Jacob seems a bit over-the-top and theatrical, but I can let that slide for the sake of the story.  After all, we are dealing with supernatural beings.

I felt that this installment probably had the best script of any of them.  There’s more dialogue and less awkward moments of silence in this film.   There is a lot more lighthearted humor in this one – until all hell breaks loose on Isle Esme.

Several scenes that I loved in the book were not in the movie, but there were elements added that were good enough that I can live with the omissions.

As you will have noticed from the trailers and previews, they changed up how things went down with the pack and Jacob’s split.   I wondered about it beforehand and I like the tension that it brought to the story.

We also get to see the wolves interact in a way that we haven’t before.  In the past, we’ve had the benefit of Edward translating for them.  This time, we get to experience the telepathy in a different way.  I’m still trying to decide what I think about it, but I am trying to keep an open mind and remember that we are talking about shapeshifters who communicate without words and we really have no idea what that would be like in real life.

Cast/Character Moments:
As always, I am a sucker for Charlie Swan and he has some really great one-liners and moments in the film.    There are also moments that your heart just breaks for him as Bella’s daddy, as is to be expected from the way Stephenie Meyer wrote the story.   Billy Burke absolutely rocks as Charlie Swan!

Emmett gets a few funny little moments in the spotlight that absolutely cracked me up.

Rosalie really does a great job as Bella’s protector and as Auntie Rose after Renesmee’s birth.  There is a really touching scene near the end that made me smile.

We already know that Jacob imprints on Renesmee, so there’s no spoiler here, but the way that it happens is very touching.  They did a really good job of showing what it’s like and helping to keep people from thinking he’s some creepy pedophile.

Edward and Bella on Isle Esme have some great moments and I refuse to ruin anything for anyone, but you can expect the honeymoon scenes to be completely PG-13.  I’m sure that scores of fans will be disappointed, but it is what it is.  They couldn’t really take it any further and keep the PG-13 rating.

Pregnant Bella…OMG.  You will not believe how awful she looks.  She truly looks like what I imagined in the books.  She is so emaciated, her hair has no shine and looks terrible, her face is gaunt and sallow.   She truly looks terrible.   I have no idea how they accomplished it, but they did an amazing job.  The birth scene is gruesome and so much like I imagined it when I read it.   I feel like they did an amazing job with it and Kristin/Bella truly looks like she’s on the verge of death in that scene.   I also love the way that her change begins.   I won’t give anything else away, but I think that it was done really well.

Seth and Leah joining the pack was one of my favorite scenes, partly because I’ve been a sucker for Seth since he came onto the scene in “Eclipse”.  I love his character – he so pure of heart and spirit and I think that BooBoo Stewart does a great job of playing Seth.   Julia Jones does a great job again of playing Leah with the bitterness and pain of being a wolf and losing her boyfriend.   She plays Leah very much like I imagined her and we get to see more of her this time.

“The humans”…there are several good moments with “the humans” during the wedding scene.  As always, Anna Kendrick as Jessica is great.

The Denali Coven – We get to see Irina in this one, which is a deviation from the book and I was impressed with Maggie Grace’s portrayal of her in the scene from the wedding. (Of course, I loved her on “Lost” and in “Taken”, so I am already biased towards her.)  It’s a nice way to set things up for what happens in Part 2.  I wasn’t impressed with the casting choice for Kate.  She looks like she’s had a lot of plastic surgery and her facial features just didn’t mesh with a vampire who has been around for a thousand years.

The Wedding:
I want to get married again and I want Alice to plan it!!   I absolutely loved the way Bella’s dress was revealed.  It’s like a puzzle where we get to see a little bit at a time and then we get to see the full dress.  Everything about the wedding is absolutely stunning.   The girls that went with me weren’t big fans of the dress.  They didn’t like the back of the dress, but I loved it.   There were a couple of elements that kind of bugged me, but I really liked it.   It was very demure and sophisticated, with a slight edge to it.   You will love scenes from the reception and Charlie and Renee have a few really great moments in the reception scenes.  There are couple of moments from the reception scene from the book that are not in the movie and I didn’t really miss them until I started to write this out.   I hope that they end up as deleted scenes on the DVD and weren’t totally eliminated.

I want to add this because you will want to sit through the credits.  There is an additional scene after they roll the credits for the actors that serves as a teaser for Part 2 that you will want to see.