It was bound to happen, one of these days. I was hoping to hold off on this whole Twilight phase until, at least the very last flick. Maybe I was hoping that I could just knock the whole thing out in one shot. Maybe I was hoping that the whole thing would blow over and the box office receipts wouldn’t demand such hype (which is more inflated than it should be… on both accounts). Maybe I was hoping for a lot of things. As we all know though, life doesn’t work out the way anyone plans. Alas, I had to hunker down and watch Twilight a few nights ago, so I could check out The Twilight Saga: New Moon. So, after Twilight sucked out 110 cents and 122 minutes out of my life (Redbox style), I thought, surely, that New Moon would be much, much better, seeing as how Twilight was rather atrocious. Damn do I hate being wrong…
OK, honestly, that last statement wasn’t totally fair. I did think that New Moon was a better film, but for purely superficial reasons. Did I think that everyone was, like, even more soooooo hotter this time around? Nay. New Moon was a better film than the rather dreadful first film because it actually had some slick action sequences, thanks to new director Chris Weitz… but that’s about it. Sure, I was left semi-intrigued at how this saga could go from here, but, honestly, I was far too bored throughout, essentially, the entire film to really care that much, because the film is fraught still with everything I loathed about the first film.
The film picks up in the senior year at Forks High School and Bella (Kristen Stewart) is still coming to terms with her new love, Edward (Robert Pattinson) and his supernatural circumstances. The proverbial shit hits the proverbial fan though, when Edward abruptly decides to leave his fair Bella, with the whole Cullen clan fleeing to parts unknown to protect her. Bella is naturally stunned and drifts through her senior year of high school, longing for her noble vampire to return. To fill the aching hole in her heart, she turns to her old buddy Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) who comforts her and embraces her need for adrenaline-fueled desires, without knowing that these dangerous deeds are the only way that Bella can see Edward… in her mind. More shit hits the fan when Bella finds out that Jacob and some of his Quileute tribe are actually werewolves and, even more, that werewolves are sworn enemies of her coveted vampires (something she should’ve learned from the Underworld series). It all leads up to some crap in Italy with the Volturi – vampire “royalty,” so they say - and the whole thing gets rather wildly out of control even before we get there.
I understand that, as a 32-year-old male, this film is not aimed at me, and they make that plenty clear throughout the film. I know the incredibly arbitrary scene of Taylor Lautner taking his shirt off (in preposterously over-dramatic fashion) to wipe some blood off Bella’s head, will not induce an ear-bleeding scream from the likes of me. I understand that the mere sight of Robert Pattinson, accompanied by the same sort of dreadfully heavy-handed score as the first film, won’t make my eyes go fluttering. At the same time, it’s not my job to go back in time and pretend I’m a teenager again to examine what they liked/didn’t like about the film. Right now, as a 32-year-old single dude, I can tell you that there’s almost anything that I would’ve rather watched than this film. I did enjoy the few action/fight scenes in the film, and while I would’ve rather had much more of that, it was still a TON more than we got in Twilight. I suppose I could rip on Melissa Rosenberg’s screenplay, adapted from Stephanie Meyer’s novel, but, naturally, since I haven’t read the books, I really can’t distinguish if many of the film’s flaws are due to Rosenberg or Meyer. I will say that some very intriguing story points are brought up this time around, mostly revolving Bella’s character, but some of these big “twists” have rather horrible payoffs and it just seems that there is a lot more to this story than just hot vampires… but they’re almost reluctant to show it. The film almost feels like a personification of the hot girl or jock in high school who hides their smarts so they can still be cool, which I guess is fitting for the demographic they’re aiming at.
Since the advent of the PG-13 movie, it’s been made quite clear than practically all films are aimed at moviegoers 13 and up, but New Moon and its predecessor are some of the only films that constantly strive to appeal to 13 year-olds almost exclusively. For example, in most comedies, editing is vastly important, so there is just enough time between the humorous moments to allow for the audience’s laughter. In New Moon, it seems some of these scenes are edited to allow for enough time for these tweens to scream at the sight of a shirtless body, and they make no bones about it.
The acting here is serviceable enough, but there’s nothing here that blows me away. Kristen Stewart does improve quite a bit from her performance in the first film, but I still just don’t get Robert Pattinson. While he’s sporting a more tamed mane than his Flock of Seagulls ‘do in the first film, he’s kind of on the sidelines here, at least as opposed to the first film. Still, his knack for looking confused and constipated most of the time is still intact. Taylor Lautner does a decent job as Jacob Black, beefing up considerably from the original… a fact that they never hesitate to bring up and I enjoyed Ashley Greene’s turn as the Cullen sister, Alice as well. Some of the new faces to this franchise include Michael Sheen as Aro, the leader of the Volturi, who are described as vampire royalty, Dakota Fanning as Jane, another red-eyed Volturi (rhymig is fun), Jamie Campbell-Bower as Caius, yes, another Volturi. The sad thing is, I was really expecting quite a lot more from this aspect of the story and we really don’t get that much at all.
Director Chris Weitz all of the sudden went from comedies to big-budget epic-style films with The Golden Compass, which flopped stateside but, somehow, did rather well internationally, and he’s back in big-budget mode for New Moon. I must say that the visuals are a VAST improvement from the first film, with some terrific fight scenes and nifty “transformations” of those cagy werewolves and it certainly was a more visually-appealing film than the first film. He does seem to get more out of his talent than his predecessor Catherine Hardwicke as well, but there are some serious issues with pacing here and he employs the same kind of style with cinematographer Roger Vernon than Hardwicke did with Twilight – this molasses-slow feel that tries to give you an artsy vibe with a big-budget film, but really just ends up dragging the film out longer than it already does. There’s a scene right after Edward leaves Bella where Bella is just stunned, sitting up in her room, and they keep circling around her and, each time they do, another month goes by… and it’s excruciatingly boring, to give you one example.
The Twilight Saga: New Moon gives you the same glitter vampires you loved (or hated) in the first film, and adds in some werewolves to boot, with this poor helpless girl Bella, stuck in the middle of a centuries-long blood feud torn between two “lovers,” as it were. I would’ve seriously been down for more of the blood feud and less of the love, but such is life. While it does improve on elements of the first film, there is still everything I hated about the first film, and more, in New Moon and, honestly, I just can’t see how these overly-sappy, proudly-mediocre films are so damn popular. Kids today…