THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON (C)
This review is elaborate. I wrote it that way so readers could understand why I graded it mediocre and not have the impression that I am just anti-Twilight.
I actually was at the midnight showing of New Moon and I feel ashamed because I contributed to this movie making $140.7 million dollars this past weekend, almost the highest total ever. I went and saw the movie because I was invited to attend with a plethora of ladies (mmm hmmm) and because I wanted to give the world a non bias opinion of the film. You are definitely not going to get one from almost any female who attended. After the showing I was public enemy number one because hardly any females had a legitimate problem with this shoddy movie and the last thing they wanted to hear was me slamming the movie for its mediocrity.
Granted I was among the few who hadn't read the books and was amidst a sea of girls of all ages wearing shirts bearing the affiliation to either "Team Edward" or "Team Jacob." But I am not judging this movie based on the fact that I love or hate the books; I am judging based on a stand alone movie, and I think that is really important.
New Moon continues the love story of the high school girl Bella (Kristen Stewart) and the man of her life Edward, (Robert Pattinson) who happens to actually be a vampire. Very quickly, Edward leaves Bella because he feels the only way she can be safe and live a normal life is to be away from his dangerous vampire world. In his absence Bella finds comfort in her neighborhood friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner).
Bella and Jacob's relationship blossoms (which brings Twi-nerds to either Team Jacob or Team Edward) presenting conflict in the story, but hardly enough for plausible competition because Bella instantly chooses Edward over Jacob when the time comes. Blah Blah Blah to the conclusion where Bella and Edward reunite which brings the story to Italy where the film's only great actors are unveiled. These characters come from the great Michael Sheen and the very talented Dakota Fanning. The unfortunate truth is how brief their roles are.
I get that this movie is based off the beloved book series of faithful readers all over the world. But strictly judging as a movie the overall production was just as lousy as the first movie. To start is the second horrible Twilight script written by Melissa Rosenberg. Why they chose this amateur to write these scripts is unknown to me. To her credit as a screenwriter are: Step Up, the first Twilight installment, and fragmented writing for various television shows here and there.
The story as a narrative was hardly exciting and did not drawn me into the movie til what felt like too late. I was not salivating over the fact I got to see the book New Moon come to life on screen like Twilight faithful; I just kept waiting for the movie New Moon to come to life. Once the werewolves are introduced the story begins to pick up speed moving towards the second act in the plot. The story provides some elaboration to plot lines but completely leaves others in the dark. As a person without knowledge of the series this was extremely distracting.
The story jumped around never keeping continuity except for Bella being involved in most of the early disconnected plot lines. Many times in the beginning the film I was murky to what was going on. Not a good kind of murky where I am curious to know the answers but a disinterested kind that left me scathing Melissa Rosenberg for her inept storytelling. I am positive Twilight readers knew what was up, but I think as a writer when a book is adapted to a screenplay the un-knowledgeable audience should be considered too.
The acting was by far the worst worst worst part of this film. The first film was plagued by absolutely atrocious acting and very little chemistry from Stewart and Pattinson. In New Moon they both improved a bit but that isn't saying much when they started at atrocious. For the most part they were just bad in the sequel. I still did not feel a spark of chemistry between these two star crossed lovers which hurts this project seeing as it is a love story surrounding these two. I will give credit to Stewart in her portrayal of having constant horrendous nightmares. Very frightening listening to her scream unmercifully during herplagued dreams.
After seeing Twilight last year I had a hard time imagining an actor who could do a worse job than Pattinson himself. Enter Taylor Lautner. This kid cannot even make facial expressions to match his emotions while speaking his lines in this movie. He was so flat the entire film I felt like I was watching a heart rate monitor of a dead person. The only thing Lautner brought to the movie was sex appeal (and this dude is ripped) for all the women who went to see this movie. And trust me when I say that sex appeal is not an undercurrent in this film, it's almost a subplot. Lautner is to New Moon for women what Megan Fox was in Transformers for men; but even Megan Fox looks like an Academy Award winner next to Lautner.
Spoiler Alert: Worst part of the entire movie features Bella falling off a motor bike and hitting her head drawing some blood. Acting as a Samaritan Jacob rips his shirt off to dabble the blood even though he barely even does so. A clear attempt to have the camera watch him tear his shirt off for the damsel in distress like some erotic fantasy. If she was bleeding profusely and needed something to stop the bleeding, this act is warranted; but in this context it is trashy and completely unnecessary. This film is loaded with crap like that.
The direction by Chris Weitz was decent at times, and uninspiring at others. He used a lot of shots that didn't seem thought out (a possibility). Almost like there was no form of interpretation in mind. An example, Weitz chose to use 360 camera shots that navigated around Bella, looked great, but was poor timing for the mood in the film. Bella is in despair because Edward has just left. Weitz uses this camera technique twice. So much camera movement like that conveys excitement or action not a character lost in her own despair because her heart has been ripped out. If you are a person who doesn't think the way a camera is used is supposed to be interpretive, take a film study or cinematography class.
Another thing that bothered me was the overuse of the montage. It was a heavy element of storytelling which can be annoying if exaggerated like New Moon. I am not sure if this was the decision of the director Weitz or the screenwriter Rosenberg to incorporate so many montages as a focal aspect of storytelling, but it way overdone and seemed like the easy way out.
Overall, New Moon is the same formula from the first film but this time with more eye candy for women. This film is definitely not for people who do not know anything about Twilight or even know very little like myself. This film is geared 100% towards the die hard fans. The producers of this franchise did not do themselves any favors forcing three films in three years as the third installment of Twilight is due to drop summer of 2010.
Despite all my grievances with this project, once the storyline picked up towards the second half of the film I was actually intrigued to see how it would all play out. It really gets interesting once the vampires display their special powers like the ability to read minds, see the future, move with unreal speed and strength, and inflict excruciating pain with just a look. Plus its never too bad to look at Kristen Stewart for a couple hours.
The vampire/werewolf aspect of the story gets a backseat to the sappy love story which is unfortunate because the vampires and werewolves in this movie are as cool as they come. The action is captivating in its moments to make viewers want more but it is few and far in between these moments.
New Moon has the content to be great but the producers just could not correctly piece it together. The best parts of the story are hardly featured while the romance novel saturated dialogue surrounding a teenage love triangle is front and center. If the love portion was done tastefully (like it probably is in the book) this movie would have been much better.
New Moon is a movie that could have worked, but didn't. If you have to go or want to it might surprise when you actually enjoy it, but most likely it isn't worth more than a matinee price. If you haven't seen New Moon already, you probably haven't read the books and this film will appeal much less to you.
Review of Twilight.