Director: Chris Weitz Notable Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning
In the latter part of this decade Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series has staked its claim on our culture; just as Star Trek, Star Wars, and Harry Potter have done. Moms and daughters around the world have fallen under the spell of a teenage harlequin romance with supernatural elements. The series of four novels centers on an 18-year-old girl named Bella and her opining love for a 109-year-old vampire, Edward. That’s right – a vampire. When the first film, Twilight, came out last year I couldn’t understand the hysteria surrounding the release. And after watching New Moon, I still don’t.
Stripped down to its core, this love story between Bella and Edward is Romeo & Juliet for a new generation. Sadly, Stephenie Meyer is no William Shakespeare. The narrative is as thin as angel hair pasta. The dialogue is laughable, the special effects are shoddy, and the film is supported by an emo college radio soundtrack that will make you want to run a stake through your heart.
These issues will do little to dissuade the Twilight brood. They’ll ignore all the bad points of New Moon, as they sit with eyes transfixed on its two male leads. For women this is pornography without the sex. When one character makes an appearance with shirt removed, young girls and some moms will exalt in adoration with screams that will have the unfortunate men in attendance scampering to put plugs in their ears.
What follows below is not a review intended for the fans of the books, but for those not familiar with the series. Because if they were they would have read harlequin romance prose that is awash with imagery that would make a normal reader’s eyes roll.
“Edward leaning motionlessly against his silver-polished Volvo, like a marble tribute to some forgotten pagan god of beauty.”
When bringing one media into another’s there’s the misguided notion that it must be interpreted to a tee. No clearer is this true than with film and literature. The movie studios know in advance that they have the fans of the book already. Their prime objective is attracting the largest possible audience, even those who have no intention of reading the source material.
New Moon picks up with Bella (Kristen Stewart) turning eighteen. She and Edward (Robert Pattinson) continue the girlfriend-vampi…um, boyfriend game. But that night everything changes. A simple paper cut triggers a chain of events that would soon reveal Bella as an obtuse teenage girl who has a lot of growing up to do.
It may have only been a little blood, but it was enough for Edward to sever the bond of love, fearing he couldn’t be there to protect her always. The problem with this solution is that vampires are on the prowl looking for Bella. With Edward’s exit, she spends endless scenes sulking as pitiful songs play in the background. (Face it, Bella; he’s just not that into you.) Then one day she is rescued by Jacob (Taylor Lautner), the long-haired, American Indian boy who has always held a deep love for Bella. As their friendship – maybe more – strengthens, Jacob discovers a fondness for howling at full moons. Yep, he’s a werewolf. To add to the intrigue, Bella receives word of Edward and the grave mistake he’s about to make. And, oh, Jacob likes to go vampire-hunting – can’t forget that. Now Bella’s caught between someone who is cold to the touch and another that will keep her warm at night. It’s the Capulets and the Montigues but with supernatural creatures! What is a girl to do?
The film would have us choose sides. There’s no question of whom the victor should be. Jacob has the edge in both physique and personality. But there’s the fraction of the audience that are supporters of “Team Edward,” loving his goth look and spray-on abs. But clearly Jacob is a better communicator. With Edward out of the picture, Bella and Jacob have a relationship that obliterates any chemistry she had with Edward in the original. But those who have read New Moon know who she picks in the end; and have also come to grips with Bella’s childish behavior. She rates up there with Frodo from The Lord of the Rings on the worthless meter. Both are integral to their prospective stories, yet both are too dependant on others – making them all the more despicable. (For Frodo, it would take a trip to Sin City to find the balls he had been missing in Middle-Earth.)
Chris Weitz has shown that he can direct a proper adaptation (About a Boy) and a bad one (The Golden Compass). New Moon falls somewhere in the middle with bad pacing – the first hour moves like a glacier – that makes it plodding and a chore to sit through. Take out Edward’s slow-motion walks and the vacant stares he and Bella share, and you could shave off ten minutes. But there’s still a chunk of time devoted to Bella’s lovesickness. She’s a worrisome teen who sees vampirism as the only way to be happy. She would give up her soul to be with Edward for an eternity without the forethought of how others would be affected.
New Moon isn’t without some good moments: Jacob’s development as a character; Oscar nominee Michael Sheen’s (The Queen) cameo as a head vampire; and the second act which, while wrought with teenage romance contrivances, makes for a serviceable romantic arc.
Above I mentioned some of the major faults of the film, but left out a big one. The idea that vampires sparkle in the sunlight is one of the “vampire rules” that should not be changed. It would be like if Han Solo shot second instead of first.
Fans will embrace the film’s presentation, remembering only Robert Pattinson in a Hugh Hefner robe and Taylor Lautner’s 8-pack abs as they leave the theater. Those who are already detractors of vampire chick lit, and flip the channel whenever a story on the Twilight phenomenon airs, this movie won’t convert them. Consider yourself saved from the fang.
Travis Leamons is one of the Inside Pulse Originals and currently holds the position of Managing Editor at Inside Pulse Movies. He's told that the position is his until he's dead or if "The Boss" can find somebody better. I expect the best and I give the best. Here's the beer. Here's the entertainment. Now have fun. That's an order!