The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Directed by: Chris Weitz
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Michael Sheen
Running Time: 2 hrs 10 mins
Release Date: November 20, 2009
PLOT: After her emotionally distant vampire boyfriend (Pattinson) ditches her, (literally, in the woods), freshly 18-year-old girl Bella (Stewart) finds a new relationship with a family friend who doesn’t wear shirts often (Lautner) because he is also a werewolf.
WHO’S IT FOR? The fans. Only. Outsiders will face numerous reminders of why they weren’t into the series to begin with.
EXPECTATIONS: At 130 minutes long, was this highly anticipated sequel going to be drawn out, and would an overwhelming amount of cheese make it suck even more than the first one? How would a film with vampires and werewolves balance high school drama?
Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan: She used to be boy crazy, and now Bella has just become crazy because of boys. Of the main three, she’s the least offensive actor when it comes to portraying emotion that can either hit home or remind us of something we’d see on a TV teen drama. The difficult decision she has to make reigns us in for a good chunk of the second half, especially when we are watching her do dangerous things just to see Edward. Sometimes her “emotional pain” is a tad over the top – she has night terrors that turn into temper tantrums, which had me thinking, “Calm down girl, this ain’t Antichrist!”
Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen: His facial expressions indicate that he may be completely frozen, but the man does walk, albeit at the speed of melting ice. Although Edward may still be the winner of Bella’s heart, Pattinson becomes the loser – he gets little screen time, and within that limited amount can’t redeem his character that is becoming progressively plain, especially when the less Robert Smith-y Jacob tries to recover his fumble. Edward has the charisma of a disco ball laying dormant on the ground. And because he ditched Bella in the middle of the woods, after breaking up with her, there’s more evidence that dude’s a terrible boyfriend (Team Jacob!)
Taylor Lautner as Jacob: This highly self-aware hunk finds a way to model in every scene, especially those that don’t require him to wear a shirt (which is about 75% percent of the time.) Because he’s the third wheel to the relationship of Bella and Edward, this buff dude with a tad more testosterone than Edward is actually a bit whiny. Inheriting the role of main hunk from Pattinson in Twilight, Lautner doesn’t know how to deliver a really tender scene either. Say it like you mean it, bro.
Michael Sheen as Aro: Frost/Nixon and The Damned United super-thespian Sheen adds his two cents to movie with a small role of dramatic importance, and its refreshing to see him not fuck it up. Sheen turns his charming Colgate smile into a much more malevolent sneer, and doesn’t let his crazy red eyes do all of the talking.
TALKING: Holy hell, I pity the fool that falls for this kind of crap: “You give me everything by just breathing.” Because it’s likely the same dude who bellows that has the same jerkiness to say this “You’re just not good for me. Sorry I let this go on for so long.” Should one be on the receiving end of such typical guy talk, they’ll have a few one liners to write in their Livejournals hours later – “It’s like a huge heart has been punched through my heart,” and after he disappears to South America, “The pain is my only reminder that he was real.” (All of these lines are from New Moon).
SIGHTS: Once the tops come off, the whole tongue-in-cheek “werewolves are too hot to wear shirts” gag stays. Though Lautner does show in one scene that it’s possible for him to wear a shirt after ruining one in the werewolf forming process, he and the other members of the “wolf pack” skip that hassle and dominate the second act visuals with lots of dude-age. More stunning than Lautner’s muscles are the special effects for the werewolves, certainly improved from the first glimpse we got from the New Moon teaser months ago.
SOUNDS: If this movie were made ten years ago, there’s no doubt that the “heartbreak” of New Moon would be accompanied by professional crying bands like Dashboard Confessional. Things have changed, however, as New Moon is full of Pitchfork.com indie-pop ambassadors who have forayed into a wider audience that is more likely to immediately identify with Taylor Swift instead of Radiohead. The collection of songs add a proper mellow touch to many scenes, and in turn make some of the cheesier moments a bit more bearable. Even the random chase scene with Victoria can be somewhat redeemed by Thom Yorke’s catchy electro-mumbles. Groups like Bon Iver, Death Cab for Cutie, OK GO, Editors, Lykke Li, and Editors all make a contribution.
BEST SCENE: The concept of Bella doing risky things just so she can see flashes of Edward is an interesting one, and perhaps even a bit sweet. It’s certainly true to the idea that people will do almost anything to distract themselves from fresh heartbreak.
ENDING: Edward asks Bella a question, and I mean, a BIG question, and then the movie cuts to black. I admit, I might have missed the last frame or two because I was scribbling down notes concerning Lautner’s giant neck.
QUESTIONS: Is that how the book ended? And as always, what’s the fan consensus on this movie?
REWATCHABILITY: People like the girls sitting behind me who squealed “that was amazing!” will get a lot of replay value out of this shirtless dude softcore. For those like me, this is one of those bad movies that isn’t filled with enough blatant goofs to make it a “so bad it’s an entertaining” watch.
I don’t think I’m breaking anyone’s heart when I say that New Moon is cheese. And with movie cheese, especially such big business gouda, leeway is absolutely necessary – some free space for the flick to hop around on its melodramatic dance floor before it starts being compared to movies obviously more in touch with the human heart. But there is no little explanation (or reminder) of Edwards’ powers, of who Victoria is, of who that evil vampire in the woods is, etc. Then with Jacob and his homies’ bare chests, Edward’s corny one-liners and Bella’s emo-rage stage, etc., New Moon’s silliness is as naked and prominent as the 8-pack that Lautner loves to put on display. New Moon abuses the allotted reign established by curious outsiders and then builds four tall walls to which it puts a sign on the front that says “Fans Only.” Congratulations, Twilight community – you have merchandise, Burger King sandwiches, conventions, and now your own exclusive feature film. (Please, humor my willingness to be neutral by making Eclipse a bit less closed and a bit more bearable.)
Reflectively, the werewolves and vampires all feel secondary to another story of cheesy teenage melodrama that aims to sell a new hunk to its drooling audience. Take away the series’ supernatural elements (from what we’ve seen so far) and what do you have? “Forks Creek?” “The Waah-mpire Cry-aries?” “A Bad Movie?”
FINAL SCORE: 4/10