The Twilight Saga: New Moon - Movie Review
Rating: Twihards - 9/10; non Twihards - 6/10
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Michael
Sheen, Dakota Fanning
Director: Chris Weitz
Well, it's finally here.
With the weight of expectation (to put it mildly), the second of the Twilight
franchise has been unleashed on the world.
And it comes after what seems like months of speculation over RPatz, Kristen,
the Wolf Pack, and rabid fan love.
So with director Catherine Hardwicke off Stephenie Meyer's sequel, there was
a lot for Chris Weitz (American Pie, The Golden Compass) to deliver.
Given the arguments over whether you're Team Jacob or Team Edward, there was
a lot resting on this- especially given the tangible absence of Edward in the
book, New Moon.
So did it?
The Twilight Saga: New Moon opens with a shot of a full moon
and ends with Bella taking a breath - and, in between for the fans of the saga,
there's everything they could want. But for those who are probably not 100% bona
fide Team Edward/ Team Jacob, there could be a lot of eye rolling and wondering
what on earth the continuing obsession is about.
The story takes up where Twilight left off - with Bella (Kristen Stewart) and
Edward (R Patz) deeply in love and on the eve of Bella's 18th birthday. Despite
her protestations, the Cullens throw Bella a birthday party - but a paper cut
sees Bella shed some blood, which sees Edward's brother Jasper try to take her
As Edward ends up hurting Bella while trying to protect her, he decides it's
safer for him to be out of her life - for good.
Destroyed by the rejection of her first love, Bella falls apart - enter Jacob
(Taylor Lautner) who plugs the hole in her heart (despite hiding a secret about
himself) with companionship and sworn oaths of fidelity.
But Bella finds he's not enough and when she discovers that thrill seeking
and becoming an adrenaline junkie allows Edward to appear to her, Bella chooses
to live life on the edge to be with her one true love.
Danger for Bella is just around the corner though - with vampire Victoria out
for revenge after the death of her mate (whom the Cullens despatched in the
first Twilight) and hot on Bella's trail. A series of miscommunications leads
Edward to believe Bella's dead and forces him to sacrifice himself at the hands
of the vampire clan, The Volturi (a la Romeo and Juliet.)
Can Bella save Edward in time? And more importantly, will she sacrifice her
burgeoning relationship with Jacob for the star crossed love of her life?
Some films are review proof - and the latest in the Twilight franchise is one
of those. Regardless of how we critics see it, New Moon will be
a box office phenomenon.
Sure, I could spend time telling you how there's a gratuitous excess of abs
on slow-mo show here (both with Jacob and Edward) - but that's what the fans
want to see (certainly judging by the lusty cat calls and wolf whistles at the
NZ premiere); I could reveal there's some horrendously corny teen love lines -
such as Edward's "You gave me everything just by breathing" to Bella, but the
audience's swoons suggest to me that that's just pandering to the fans - and I
could tell you that parts of the film play like music videos as the soundtrack
swells over aching teens caught up in their relationship and during the Wolf
Pack chasing Victoria the vampire - but again, that's what the diehard fans of
the franchise want.
Whereas Twilight introduced the franchise and set the characters up, you'd
expect a sequel to ramp up the action and the stakes. However, New Moon is a
slight side step on that franchise path as it's about setting up the
Jacob/Edward/Wolf pack/Vampire issues which will play out through the rest of
the novels/films. So, while there is a bit more action than the original film,
there's still a lot of foreboding, plotting and signposting to be done.
And that's perhaps where director Chris Weitz fumbles the Twilight ball a
little (in the eyes of a non-obsessive Twihard) - there are scenes of aching
moments of love and loss, balanced by a sweeping tinkling piano score - which to
the casual viewer seem cliched and unoriginal; some of the newcomers in the Wolf
Pack are not the strongest actors - but given their buffness and penchant for
wandering around shirtless, you would imagine they're no more than eye
To be honest, the biggest disappointment is the Volturi - early on they're
alluded to as Vampire aristocracy who rule with power and fear and yet it's only
Dakota Fanning's Jane who comes off as powerful and menacing; Michael Sheen's
Aro verges on hammy creepiness - his early menace is soon lost by a lot of
clasping hands and wide red eyes.
Yet, there's also much to admire in New Moon - the final fight scenes are a
cool, blurry mix of Matrix style bullet time action and sweeping camera
But it's Kristen Stewart's stand out performance as Bella which impresses
the most. Once again, she commands a powerhouse performance as she falls
apart after Edward's abandonment. It's this pivotal acting which gives Bella an
edge, a vulnerability and a rawness which shows why she's such a talent; the
Wolf transformations and appearances on screen are pretty damn good (though some
may feel they're not how they should be when compared to their background in
Stephenie Meyer's books); and Team Jacob certainly receives a boost from Taylor
Lautner's much improved performance this time around - although given the
slightly controlling edge to his character, I somehow doubt there will be many
defectors from Team Edward.
New Moon is by no stretch of the imagination a disaster - as an example of
its genre, it's perfectly pitched to its audience and its core fan base.
I just suspect the non-fans (yes, there are some out there) may be somewhat
bemused as to what all the fuss is about.
However, to the Twihards I say "go, love it and cherish it and get ready for
Eclipse, which is heading to cinemas in 2010". The countdown begins now.