While Twilight was a guilty pleasure, its sequel New Moon just made me feel guilty. Guilty for paying a sitter, guilty for the gas I wasted, and guilty for buying into the Twilight phenomenon to begin with. A wretched excursion into franchise baiting, New Moon is flat out an embarrassment for everyone involved.
Briefly, if you don’t know the story of the sequel, Bella Swan is a mortal in love with a vampire, Edward Cullen. Towards the beginning of New Moon, Edward realises that it is too dangerous for Bella to continue seeing him, so he pretends that he doesn’t love her anymore and disappears. Bella behaves like a petulant infant and doesn’t leave her room for months because she is a narcissistic, co-dependent teenager.
When she finally emerges after months of alienating friends and family, she sidles up to Jacob, a local boy of Native American descent, who also is a werewolf. Bella then becomes co-dependent on Jacob, because that is what she does. She also becomes a thrill seeker, because whenever she endangers her life (via cliff diving, motorcycling, etc) she sees a floating spectre of Edward pleading for her to quit engaging in said risky behavior. In her melodramatic mind, this is how she can be close to her beloved Edward, if only for a second. That’s a healthy depiction of true love, right?
Just as Jacob and Bella are becoming close, Edward enters the picture again. Seems he falsely believes that Bella met her demise after her latest dip in the ocean. Rather than live an eternity without her, Edward vows to off himself by sparkling to death. Bella has to race against the clock to Italy to save him from the silliest mode of death ever concocted. Really, that’s it. Somehow it all seemed less stupid when I read the book.
I can’t figure out why Twilight director Katherine Hardwicke was replaced this time around with Chris Weitz. He didn’t learn any lessons from the first movie. All the things that made it unintentionally funny the first time around are on full display here.
Although it’s obvious that Weitz decided to approach this film with more humor, I’m sure he was hoping people would laugh at the jokes in the dialogue. It’s never a good sign when the first glimpse of the hero elicits guffaws of laughter.
I am sad to inform you that the sparkling effect is still on full display, and it’s still ridiculous. What’s even worse is that no lessons were learned by the makeup team from Twilight. Everyone still looks like they are wearing oily kabuki makeup with red lipstick. The eye contacts are even more golden this time around. So much for subtlety. The Cullen clan just look like a bunch of freaks, a far cry from the impossibly gorgeous creatures they are supposed to be.
Jasper still has that cuckolded expression he sported in Twilight. Natural brunette actors (Peter Facinelli, Nikki Reed) have very unnatural and off-putting blond hair. Jacob (Taylor Lautnor) still has a hairpiece that looks like a cheap Elvira wig from Target. These might seem like minor complaints, but if a director can’t make these characters convincing, it takes you out of the movie. It’s one of many disappointments.
The CGI-well, it’s time to put an end to all this CGI crap. I’ve had it. How come An American Werewolf in London, a film from 1981, had more convincing werewolves? They used puppets, for gosh sakes! How come millions of dollars are wasted on these CGI creatures that provide nothing more than a comedic effect? It’s pathetic.
Oh, the fight scenes. Did you know that vampires are also adept in the art of Kung Fu? Weitz seems to think so. The fight scenes are filmed either slow-motion Matrix style, or sped up, usually alternating back and forth during the same scene. Is this supposed to artsy?
Don’t get me started on the shirtless scenes. I know Taylor Lautner gained 30 pounds of muscle and waxed his chest for this movie, but does that mean he has to run around flexing his abs for the entire running time of 130 minutes? When Bella is bleeding after some of her risk-taking antics, Jacob looks at her and flings off his entire shirt to dab at her head. It’s the equivalent of a woman taking off her shirt in action movie to clog a drain hole and save them all from drowning. So stupid. So bad. So obvious.
As for the other shirtless guy, I had to shield my eyes from the horror that was Robert Pattinson’s skinny torso. Oddly, he had sprigs of chest hair that were visible. He is supposed to be smooth like marble, but he has tufts of chest hairs. The werewolf, however, is waxed clean. That’s logical.
When Edward thinks Bella is dead, Pattinson lurches about like Frankenstein. He is so wooden and bizarre, and clearly the man can’t act his way out of a sack. He’s just awful. Lautner is decent as Jacob.
He has some cheesy moments, but they are the fault of a weak script, not his acting. I still maintain that Kristen Stewart was perfectly cast in the series as Bella. You might find her irritating in the movie, but Bella was also very irritating in the book. Stewart is just doing her job, and she is better than this franchise deserves.
Michael Sheen is badly miscast and uncomfortable as the leader of the Volturi, but damned if Dakota Fanning isn’t a little chilling as pain miser Jane. The only other good thing that I can say about the movie is that I really liked the score, which was by Alexander Desplat.
This disaster signals the point at which I must break up with the series. Twilight, it was fun while it lasted, but we’re through now.