Short version: Like Twilight, New Moon is strictly for fans of the book – for the rest of us, it’s actually worse than the first film.
Screen Rant reviews The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Well, maybe the third time will be the charm.
In an earlier article we speculated whether New Moon might turn out to be a good movie not just for fans but for general audiences (maybe even guys!). With the replacement of Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke with Chris Weitz on New Moon, many people were hoping for a more exciting film this time around. Unfortunately, if anything what we’ve gotten is a film that is even slower than the first one.
As New Moon opens things seem to have fallen into as close to normalcy as they can get in Forks, where Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) are a couple, even though Bella’s circle of friends still finds him and his family creepy. Bella hasn’t seen Jacob (Taylor Lautner) in quite a while and is shocked to see how he’s beefed up when he turns up. There’s a rivalry between Edward and Jacob, but nothing compared to what it will be by the end of the movie.
Bella still (idiotically) wants to be “turned” – be bitten so she can become a vampire and live forever with Edward at the physical age of 18. Edward refuses because obviously he’s smarter than she is – he’s 109 years old and with that apparently has come some wisdom. They actually joke about the fact that an 18 year old girl is dating a 109 year old guy – while it may seem silly, it’s actually true and quite creepy. You’d think he’d be (as a 109 year old) more interested in hooking up with a woman in her 30s, who’s actually experienced more of life and matured.
Edward tells Bella that the Cullens are leaving, ostensibly to protect their identities, but in reality he believes that as long as he’s around her he puts her in danger. Before he leaves he tells her not to do anything reckless – and the only reason to say something as non-sequiter as that is to set up what comes up later in the movie. Saying she doesn’t take it well would be an understatement. Bella is depressed and morose, doing nothing but sitting in her bedroom moping for months.
Eventually she pretends to snap out of it, just to make her dad happy, and while out with a friend discovers that if she contemplates doing something dangerous, risky (or hey, reckless!), Edward appears to her to tell her not to do it. So she becomes a bit of an adrenaline junkie, looking for dangerous things to do just so Edward will appear to her to tell her NOT to do it. This is a major point in the film, and frankly the more I thought about it, the more it seemed pretty stupid. First, let’s just reverse what I said earlier about Edward being wise – appearing to her ONLY when she’s about to do something risky, with the fact she misses him so much, guarantees she will engage in that behavior. Second, isn’t Bella the only person who he’s not able to “read?” He can’t read her thoughts, can’t tell what she’s planning on doing, etc? Then how the HECK does he appear to her when she’s about to do something stupid? Of course if he’s not appearing to her and she’s imagining it, then she’s having pretty vivid hallucinations and has even bigger problems than we thought.
Meanwhile back on the (Indian) ranch, there are a bunch of guys who hang together and seem to worship the gang leader. This particular fellow seems to be waiting for Jacob to join them even though Jake isn’t interested. Of course there’s a reason they’re called the “Wolf Pack” and soon enough Jacob will be joining them (once he joins them, he spends the rest of the film shirtless just like them). He comforts Bella, who takes advantage of their friendship because it’s obvious he has serious feelings for her, and she allows things to progress as far as closeness and some physical affection, but keeps him at arm’s length. Eventually he, too tells her he can’t be friends with her any more and Bella is now 0 for 2 on people who said they’d never leave her – and do.
Eventually Edward comes to believe that Bella is dead, and heads to Italy to request that the vampire council known as the Volturi agree to kill him so he doesn’t have to live in a world without Bella. She, of course, isn’t dead and heads to Italy to stop him. There’s a a scene where they try to ratchet up the suspense that seems silly – if only they allowed her to call out much of the suspense would have been drained from the scene, and there’s no good reason for her not to have done that. Oh, and the method Edward comes up with to bring death upon himself doesn’t make any sense from the perspective of traditional vampire lore. I’ll elaborate in the following spoiler paragraph:
Edward decides to break the main vampire rule, which is to not reveal himself to humans. To do this he removes his shirt and prepares to step into the sunlight in the middle of a local festival. In Twilight vampires “sparkle” so supposedly this would give him away. But if you saw some guy standing in a doorway in the sunlight sparkling, would you think “Vampire!” or would you think, “Check out the gay guy who’s covered himself in glitter.”?
At least the Volturi are suitably creepy, each of them in their own way – I actually liked the performance of the leader of the group. This is also were Dakota Fanning appears, and I hope you weren’t looking forward to a lot of on screen time from her here because she’s in the film for maybe five minutes tops.
Is there any actual action? Yes, there’s a semi-cool fight in the Volturi chamber and we get some werewolf scenes that serve to highlight some pretty bad CGI and shorts that rip upon transformation like tissue paper. I’d say overall there was bit more action than in the first film, but not a whole lot more.
Overall despite a bit of action and a few scattered laughs (the jokes related to the fictional movie “Face Punch” are pretty funny), I found the movie to be long, slow and fairly boring. Bella is annoyingly miserable and seems to me to be in serious need of therapy, anti-depressant medication, or perhaps a stronger father figure(?). I actually like the supporting characters better than the leads – her dad, his Native American buddy, and Bella’s friends were all pretty entertaining.
In the end, I can’t see New Moon being enjoyable to anyone other than Twilight fans, and if you’re the husband or boyfriend of a fan, do your best to find a way to avoid it (suggest a girl’s night out – there’s a free tip from me to you). And finally, I’d be curious to hear from Twilight fans whether this film was a better representation of the book than the first film, since I’ve seen complaints even from Twilight fans about the first movie.