TBTS Reviews: The Twilight Saga, Part 2: New Moon
This is Part 2 of a joint mini-review series featuring myself and fellow Tweedie Esquirette. Check out Part 1 for a little background on how this review process works and where we each fall on the spectrum of Twilight fandom.
Paulthegeek: I’d just like to say right off the bat that this one is WAY better than the first movie. I mean, r’speck for Catherine Hardwicke’s previous directorial work (particularly Thirteen), but Twilight just wasn’t very good. New Moon, directed by Chris Weitz (About a Boy, The Golden Compass), is an overall better effort, even with a story that is marginally sillier than the first movie. Weitz pulls better performances out of most of the cast (a cast largely not chosen by him, I might add), deftly handles the few action sequences (a damn sight better than Hardwicke anyway), and provides a far more stylish cinematic experience for the audience.
Esquirette: I am amazed that Chris Weitz managed to make Kristen Stewart a better actress in this film. There’s less fart-face and lip biting, less of her looking constipated all the time. She just… acted, and it wasn’t terrible. Robert Pattinson, however, was still pretty bad, even though he was only in about 25 percent of the movie. It must be in Eclipse that he learns how to speak in an American accent without keeping his mouth perfectly still.
Paulthegeek: Let me point out, for the skeptics out there, that the extended chase sequence between the wolves and evil-redhead-vampire-lady stands out, to me, as exceptionally well conceived. A lot of it comes from the haunting soundtrack: “Hearing Damage” by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke. In fact, once again, a Twilight movie manages to have a pretty damn respectable soundtrack. For all her perceived faults as a writer, Stephenie Meyer has pretty good taste in music and she heavily influenced the song choices for these movies.
Esquirette: When I read the part in New Moon about Bella seeing the apparitions of Edward whenever she was in danger, I figured there was no way they could translate that well to the screen. And I was right. It just comes off looking silly and trite in the movie, though I will admit that the final bit in the water (with Edward floating next to a dying Bella) did work pretty well. The rest of it, though, was just weird. Is he a ghost? Is he a hallucination? There’s no real explanation.
Paulthegeek: Well, the whole situation is eye-rolly in the extreme. “Waaa, my vampire boyfriend left me and I’m distraught and I’m gonna hang out with my new werewolf boyfriend and do reckless things because I’m a dumb teenager and an adrenaline junkie and I keep seeing vampire boy everywhere and he tells me what to do and I’m going to (literally) jump off a cliff…” I really hope that this is conveyed better in the book, because it is absolutely absurd and pointless in the movie. And the Romeo & Juliet allegory was a little too on-the-nose; they were really beating the audience over the head with that one.
Esquirette: I thought Bella’s undelivered emails to Alice were a nice way to work in the internal dialogue without the ridiculous voice-over they used in Twilight. I liked the idea that, even though the emails were never received, Alice would still have an idea of what was going on. Like Bella knew she’d be listening in some way.
Paulthegeek: Yeah, the voice-over in the first movie was lame. The books are first-person, so you get all of Bella’s internal stuff; it’s much harder in a movie. I agree that Bella’s emails were at least a semi-clever way of helping to convey her (trite, hackneyed, whiny-ass) despair over her boyfriend leaving. That’s the kind of situation where I can forgive filmmakers for deviating from (or adding to) the source book in order to better tell the story. Doesn’t make me less stabby at Bella; get over it you stupid, self-absorbed child.
Esquirette: Michael Sheen is awesome. That is all.
Paulthegeek: Absolutely. He does amazing things as Aro (leader of the ancient vampire order of the Volturi) with less than 5 minutes of screen time. He accomplished the same feat in Tron: Legacy. And Dakota Fanning did quite well as Jane, a young, sadistic vampire with the ability to inflict pain telepathically. With even less screen time!
I’ll close with an amusing little anecdote about this movie. When I saw it in the theater with my wife the room was of course largely filled with females of various ages, and a few couples like us. I knew Taylor Lautner’s Jacob was supposed to be a buff and imposing presence, and I pretty much expected a little bit of eye candy for the ladies. (Although at the time both the actor and the character were SIXTEEN YEARS OLD. Apparently, it’s less creepy when it’s 35-year-0ld “Twi-moms” lusting after a 16-year-old Taylor Lautner than when, say, a 36-year-old geek mentions in passing that Castle’s daughter is kinda hot.) When Bella has her little motorcycle accident and Jacob rushes to her side… and for absolutely NO reason whips his shirt off exposing an impossibly chiseled upper-body and abs that could grate cheese… all the air in that theater was sucked out by the collective “gasp” from the womenfolk. I almost laughed out loud. I almost laughed again later, during a scene in Bella’s bedroom, when it was painfully obvious that Lautner’s abs had been “enhanced” by some creative airbrushing. Did anybody care? I doubt it.