Viewing The Twilight Saga: New Moon is about as fun as listening to an angsty teen drone on about their problems for 130 minutes. Much like angsty teens, New Moon is humourless and dead serious, and there’s so much angst piling up throughout the film that one will require a fucking helicopter to stay above it all.
Unfortunately, the Twilight movies – while absolutely awful – constitute the most critic-proof film series of recent years. See, the obsessed fans had already made up their mind about New Moon before a single frame had been lensed. They were going to see it, and they were going to love it (even if there are veritable reports that experiencing it may cause your eyes and ears to bleed). It’s faithful to their beloved book (to a fault), filled with teen angst, and it features a lot of boys running around with their shirts off. Problem is, all this fan service comes at the expense of telling a good story that a general audience can enjoy. The non-biased non-fans will be able to see New Moon for what it really is: a cheesy, poorly-focused picture with terrible dialogue and awkward performances. The Twilight fans will overlook the flaws due to the thrill of seeing their favourite characters on screen again, but the world is not entirely comprised of Twilight fans.
A lengthy plot summary would be a waste of time, so here’s the briefest version possible: Bella Swan (Stewart) is still inexplicably in love with the 109-year-old vampire Edward Cullen (Pattinson). Following an incident at Bella’s private birthday party, the Cullens opt to leave town because Edward believes he’s putting Bella in peril. Lost and depressed without her lover, Bella begins engaging in destructive hobbies in the hope that Edward will return and protect her. Eventually, Bella is catapulted into the arms of Jacob Black (Lautner), who is in fact a werewolf. Thus, the Van Helsing love triangle is complete, and Bella’s suicide plans don’t work out. Damn…
A clan of vampires called the Volturi is eventually introduced, but this entire subplot feels like an afterthought. It’s as if the writers realised there was nothing happening, and decided they better throw in something exciting. But alas, it’s too little, too late. Plus, the Volturi introduction feels redundant because it was an unnecessarily elaborate way for Edward to commit suicide. To travel to Italy for that purpose is a bit of a reach… Why not anger Jacob and his crowd of werewolves by saying something about their penis size?
It’s obvious from the outset that the filmmakers were unwilling to exclude things that would allow for a tighter film in fear of aggravating the Twilight fans who want every moment from the book to be included. No-one involved in producing New Moon was able to recognise that all the best page-to-screen adaptations are those that deviate from the source material in exciting ways. Literature and cinema are two different media forms, and a rote movie adaptation is rarely satisfying to anyone not slavishly devoted to the source material. Thus, the film’s straightforward narrative of nothingness plays out over a running time of 130 minutes when there’s NO FUCKING REASON for it to run for so goddamn long, apart from fan service. I mean, it’s not like the movie is so long because it has to wrap up the whole series – there are two more fucking movies to go!
On top of all this, the material is very cheesy, with utterly appalling dialogue. This could’ve been more tolerable if only there was a smattering of self-aware humour, but no such miracle exists. New Moon borders dangerously close to self-parody several times, but it would seem the filmmakers were blissfully unaware of the unintentional hilarity. The highlight is a dream sequence of Bella and Edward frolicking in a field. Though this is supposed to be giddy and romantic, it’s fucking hilarious.
Several times during the movie, Bella begs Edward to transform her into a vampire. Of course, this whole “becoming a vampire” thing is an in-your-face metaphor for “Bella losing her virginity”. While Edward’s sister is willing to “do it” for Bella, Bella refuses because she wants Edward to “do it”, but Edward keeps abstaining from sucking her blood. If you don’t buy the virginity metaphor thing, consider this: Meyer belongs to the religiously conservative Mormon group. The Twilight novels are huge with 14-year-old girls, and the biggest concern for 14-year-old girls is when and with whom they will lose their virginity. Meanwhile, the rest of us know that losing your virginity is one of the most underwhelming five minutes of your life. We’re also fully aware that guys as dreamy and cheesy as Edward do not exist. All those hideous, overweight Twilight fans should stop being so fucking optimistic and picky, and take any man they can get!
For New Moon, the producers ousted Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke, and replaced her with Chris Weitz, who was last seen at the helm of stillborn blockbuster The Golden Compass. While Weitz is a lot more competent as an action director, the only watchable set-pieces come far too late into the movie. And this is the problem – even with a decent director at the helm, the Twilight films will always be hampered by Meyer’s bullshit prose. There’s only so much anyone can do with this tripe. Worse, despite a much larger budget than the original movie, the digital effects are rarely better than passable. In particular, the werewolves look hokey and cartoonish. With such cheap-looking CGI, one has to wonder what the rumoured $90 million was used for (gym memberships for the cast?). Also heartbreaking is the music – the score by Alexandre Desplat is underwhelming, and the pop songs are forgettable. The original film was much more memorable in this department. Oh Jesus Christ, the awfulness of New Moon has caused me to referenceTwilight as a positive example?!
Taylor Lautner did a lot of work to buff himself up for the role of Jacob Black, and takes advantage of every possible opportunity to show it…even when it’s not even slightly relevant to the story. In fact, Lautner spends three quarters of the film sans shirt as if he’s posing for the DVD cover of a gay porno. That said, credit where credit is due, Lautner acquits himself reasonably well with the role, especially in contrast to Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson whose performances lack passion and conviction. The very little amount of chemistry that existed between Stewart and Pattinson in the original movie has evaporated. Here, Stewart connects with Lautner to some extent, but her love scenes with Pattinson are boring and, frankly, creepy. Not to mention, Edward enjoys breaking into Bella’s room and rummaging through her personal effects when she’s not around. What a dreamboat. When you begin wondering just what Bella sees in Edward, there are huge problems. Additionally, it’s a problem that Stewart is more annoying than endearing. Whenever she delivers her lines, she doesn’t sound committed – rather, she sounds like she’s just trying to regurgitate the corny dialogue without bursting into laughter.
Also featuring in the cast is Dakota Fanning, who accomplishes absolutely nothing as a Volturi enforcer. Why Dakota is even here is the film’s biggest mystery. Ashley Greene as Alice Cullen was delightful eye candy in Twilight, but in New Moon her role is relegated to something much smaller, leaving very little in the way of worthwhile eye candy.
And now, it’s time to quote one of my favourite online reviewers, Jeremy Jahns: “[New Moon is] porn for women. It absolutely is if you think about it. It’s corny, it has laughable dialogue, and for reasons unknown to [men], it unquestionably turns on its target audience. Porn for women.” Perhaps if I was a virginal 14-year-old female, I would’ve liked the series. But…I have a penis. And we males who get forced into watching this tosh will be unable to comprehend the appeal.