THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON
*** (out of 5)
November 20, 2009
Kristen Stewart as BELLA SWAN
Robert Pattinson as EDWARD CULLEN
Taylor Lautner as JACOB BLACK
Ashley Greene as ALICE CULLEN
Jackson Rathbone as JASPER HALE
Billy Burke as CHARLIE SWAN
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Directed by: Chris Weitz
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
A year ago this week, I found the original “Twilight” movie to be one of the biggest disappointments of the year. It’s not that I was a fan of the book. (I only got through about a hundred page before getting bored with it.) I had hoped for a better film altogether. Even if you forgive the weak storytelling, the logical inconsistencies and the shallow characters (all of which are problems from the original novel), there were severe problems with the filmmaking process.
In this respect, “New Moon” has improved greatly on the first film. The make-up is better (meaning they actually used make-up instead of just padding the vampires’ faces down with baby powder), and the special effects are much better (meaning we don’t have to suffer through wire-work that looks like a throwback to “The Muppet Show”).
I can’t say that this new film has improved upon the characters or the story because it really hasn’t. My wife, who is a huge fan of the books by the way, has assured me that it’s a very faithful adaptation, so the best I can figure is that Stefenie Meyers just isn’t that good of a writer. All the plot holes are still here, like why the Cullens choose to go through 80+ years of high school, why it’s okay for a man more than a hundred years old to scam on a teenager and why anyone would care a flying frak whether this family’s skin glistens like David Bowie at a glam rock concert.
However, there is some new and more interesting subject matter added to the mix. The story continues with Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart) deeply yet inexplicably in love. However, Edward soon realizes that he or one of his family members might just kill her, so they leave town. This sends Bella into the most annoying depression ever committed to film until she hooks up with Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) and becomes his new BFF. Too bad it turns out that he’s a werewolf committed to killing vampires.
There’s a lot to hate about this movie, primarily the first half which presents Bella as the most pathetic character this side of a Woody Allen picture. She’s turning 18 at the beginning of the movie, but she whines and mopes like a thirteen-year-old who has been told she can’t go to a slumber party. This irritated me to no end, but there is a part of me that does realize that it is this egocentric, brittle emotion that is very accurate for a teenage girl. And I imagine this is why the Twi-hard fans connect with the character.
Yes, the first half of this movie is pretty much excruciating. If I weren’t a critic, sitting next to my Twi-hard wife at the screening, I might have actually walked out.
However, when the second half of the film gets rolling, things do look up. There are some wicked-cool wolf smackdowns, and the relationship between Jacob and Bella is actually a relationship rather than a vapid infatuation which she has with Edward.
The film culminates with a visit to the Volturi, an Italian vampire council led by Michael Sheen, who mops the floor with the other actors. (Of course, this isn’t hard to do, considering that Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson create the perfect storm of bad acting not seen since Megan Fox tried to emote in “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”.)
In the end, I didn’t hate this movie. I’ll give it props for being a faithful – if not whiney and angst-filled – adaptation. And if you’re going to have half your film make me want to walk out, it’s a good thing that it was in the first half. By the end, I did warm up… just a little. If only we could get rid of Edward and Bella, I think I might actually become a fan.