Review: New Moon
PLOT: That crazy in love couple, Bella and Edward, are living the teen romance dream. They survived the three baddies in the first film and are getting ready to celebrate Bella’s eighteenth birthday. But with her increasing nightmares of getting old and her insistence on being turned into a vampire, Edward fears that he is only a danger to his love. So off he goes, leaving her heartbroken. Luckily, her little buddy Jacob has been working out and is looking for companionship with the girl he most certainly loves. Yet as with any triangle, bad things happen, including werewolves and a counsel of vampires that are worried about being “outed” to the public. But it seems that Bella sure digs that Edward guy though.
Why can’t Bella and Edward be together? Oh, why can’t they just live a vampire life of romance and sparkling skin? It seems the two have so many obstacles including a deadly gang of Abercrombie and Fitch models who remains constantly shirtless and have an issue with the Cullen family… probably because Edward is oh so skinny and pale, he could never grace the pages of an A & F catalog, he is certainly more of a GAP kind of guy. Even near the end, when something finally happens in NEW MOON, Bella (Kristen Stewart) and her best vamp buddy Alice (Ashley Greene) find themselves at a “Little Red Riding Hood” convention, with hordes of hooded men, women and children along with a very foppish group of vamps (including the very talented Michael Sheen). Luckily for everyone involved, the mood is kept to a somber tone with a ton of modern rock songs that will appeal to all of those waiting in line for a new T-Shirt from Hot Topic. Yes, fan boys, there is a new sheriff in town, and they will squeal and get all giddy on your ass at a shirtless Taylor Lautner or a brooding Robert Pattinson.
Okay, in all seriousness, this second installment in THE TWILIGHT SAGA at times is almost good. When a little accident happens as the Cullens are throwing a little birthday party for newly legal Bella, a paper cut causes one of the boys to get all vampy. Edward “protects” Bella by throwing her across a room so she actually cuts her arm and now, she is even more tantalizing for the bloodsuckers. That is a reminder to Edward that Bella is in danger from his kind. So what’s an undead to do but tell his love that he needs to leave and he will never see her again. And honestly some of the first hour or so of this teen soap worked. Poor Bella sinking into depression and sitting in a chair, not speaking to anyone as the months pass, it was sort of believable. In fact, director Chris Weitz (no stranger to teen angst) is able to breath a bit of life into the horrors of the teen years. The metaphor of losing yourself to the one you love works at times, especially when Bella starts to gravitate towards Jacob (Lautner).
Weitz was a good choice to take on Twilight, unlike Catherine Hardwicke was the first time around. While she tried to add her own touch, it seemed to sort of go against this romantic teen drama. Her style is a little more direct than the metaphor heavy story of a vampire in love with a mortal. But Weitz adds a little bit of fantasy as he explores this world with it’s half-naked werewolf dudes and their mortal enemies, the shiny vampires. But as good of a director he is, and as hard as the cast tries, this is not a good script. What starts out as this teen angst-y romance turns into some silly bit of business about a group of what you could call king vamps. Yet, much like the first film, the “finale” is way too short with a terrible build up. By focusing on Bella, Edward and Jacob for the most part, the rest of the cast is horribly underused. Why was Victoria (Rachelle Lefevre) even here? It seems she was simply there to remind the audience there was a villain. Ironically, she was somewhat more interesting for me this time, even if the script didn’t care about her.
Now the truth is, this franchise will be successful. I’m guessing New Moon will make a ton more money than the first film. And of course the young girls (and sometimes not so young) will probably dig the romance and the absurdly sappy dialogue. Some may even find the embarrassingly bad connection to the classic Shakespearean drama ROMEO AND JULIET really deep. But it isn’t. Once again, despite a better than expected attempt by Weitz, this is a story that lacks any real quality. But somewhere beneath it all could have been a really beautiful film that happens to be about vampires. My last review used the example of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN due to the subtle beauty and chilling atmosphere created in that gem. If you want to make a Twilight film that will please the general audience, there would have to be massive cuts and a serious decision to make a cohesive story. But I guess if the fan base is still drooling over these pretty vampires and still debating on whether they are “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob”, they will probably just stick to the formula that works. My rating 4/10 -- JimmyO