The Twilight Saga: New Moon review aka probably my biggest film disappointment of the year


The Twilight Saga: New Moon (USA, 2009)

Seen: Wednesday, 25th November 2009 (cinema)
Runtime: 130′
Director: Chris Weitz
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, Michael Sheen, Jamie Campbell Bower, Peter Facinelli, Dakota Fanning
Production House: Imprint Entertainment, Summit Entertainment, Sunswept Entertainment, Temple Hill Entertainment
Plot: Edward decides to leave Bella for her own good. Bella starts hanging out with Jacob instead.

Scene From the Film

Impressions In Short
On the whole, I thought it was absolutely dreadful. It had very few redeeming features - the cast mainly.
The really annoying thing is that even though I hated it, I’ll probably end up buying the DVD anyway because Taylor Lautner was awesome ;)

Book vs. Film
New Moon is my favourite book in the franchise. The great thing about it is that almost nothing happens in it ;) After a very humiliating break-up scene, it’s just page upon page of depression. There’s no proper action in it really, not until the end. And even then it never gets epic. All the other three books have some sort of big battle scene, New Moon doesn’t really. So it’s all just character development, which is what I like best *grin*
The other great thing about it is how she tells a sickeningly sentimental love story in a relatively unsentimental way. Generally speaking, you can’t write a contemporary story about how two people love each other so much that they would literally die if the other ceased to exist, without making it sound incredibly cheesy. Which is why she puts in lots of Romeo and Juliet references - the twist is she’s a little sarcastic about it. So when she finally plays out the whole Romeo and Juliet ending, you don’t find it that cheesy anymore because she’s on your side - she’s already done the “lets vomit cause this is too sentimental” bit for you ;) Even the mushy beginning of the book is sort of forgiveable because she follows it with such a humiliating break-up scene.
Neither of these qualities were preserved in the film though.
The film was definitely not happy with the “nothing happens” approach - it took every opportunity to put in a dynamic action scene. As far as I remember, Edward did not get thrown around by any of the vampires in the book. He did endure pain, yes, but that was from Jane - she does that just by looking at people, so no action scene needed :]
Edward and Jacob do not have a fight scene in the book either. They merely have a tense conversation.
The werewolves do indeed get some action in the book, but most of it happens “off the page”.
At this time I don’t remember either the film or the book well enough to be sure, but if I said the film added about five action scenes which weren’t in the book, I don’t think I’d be exaggerating much.
The sentimentality of the film was impossible to stomach as well. They did put in one or two Romeo and Juliet references, but naturally you don’t get Edward teasing Bella for getting all sentimental about Romeo and Juliet. In the film version he takes it pretty seriously.
The last scene, which has Edward, Jacob and Bella together was particularly sickening. What was that line… “I love you, Jacob, but you’ll always be second best”? In case anyone’s wondering, that scene plays out very differently in the book. Bella and Jacob definitely do not have any “I love you” lines - in fact they have a huge argument.
Another thing that bothered me (though it wasn’t as important as the two things already mentioned) was how heavily they played the jealousy thing. That wasn’t much of a feature in book two - it’s only in book three that the rivalry for Bella really starts. It was as if the director of New Moon felt he needed to spice things up and jealousy was the way to do it.
The weird thing was that despite not preserving the two qualities about the story, which for me were make or break kind of conditions, they would be so literal in how they adapted a lot of the other scenes. There was one scene that particularly comes to mind… When Bella falls into her huge depression and the world stops existing for her, Stephanie Meyer portrays that in a way which I didn’t think could be translated to screen. There’s a title which says “November” and then a blank page. Then another page that says “December” and again a blank page. Then “January” and something like two paragraphs. That’s all that happens in Bella’s life for three months. I thought that way of portraying this was much more effective (and easier to read ;)) than going into huge melodramatic descriptions of how bad Bella feels, so I really liked that. But when they tried to adapt that literally in the film, I found myself wondering if they were insane :] I mean ok, obviously they couldn’t use blank pages, but they sort of tried to do something like that with music and subtitles - it was awful.

The style
Stylistically, this was very different from Twilight. Twilight looks like some quirky independent film. New Moon is much more in the epic Hollywood sort of vein.
The reason I responded to the first film so strongly was largely its style. My favourite thing about it and a very major reason why it made my favourite film list are the awkward silences. Hollywood doesn’t like silences and awkward pauses. In fact most of the world’s commercial cinema doesn’t (I think Bollywood is freaked out by the idea even more).
All that awkwardness was very much part of the style of the first film. It made the romance and a lot of the relationships (for example between Bella and her dad) very awkward, which I loved. Not having them at all in New Moon hurt… a lot… :]
The music in New Moon was very different to Twilight as well. I love Carter Burwell, so Twilight’s soundtrack appealed to me a lot. New Moon’s is very generic and often increased the cheesy feel of the over-sentimental scenes :]
And then there’s how much more masculine this film felt. The focus of the story went to completely different facets and ironically, I’ve come to the conclusion that masculine sentimentality is more difficult to stomach for me than feminine sentimentality :]
The one thing I do love about this film though is that finally, we have a big Hollywood movie which totally objectifies men! *grin* I don’t mind when women get objectified, but I hate the double standards, so I’m very glad to finally see a film which breaks out of this.

The cast and characters
I liked Pattinson and Stewart better in the first film. But I don’t think the reason for this is entirely in their performances. The fun thing about them as actors is the restraint. They often express more by not saying and not doing something than by being in your face about it. Twilight really played into this. It uses relatively long shots in most of the dialogue scenes and really milks those silences. This helps actors like Pattinson and Stewart. New Moon played against them in that respect - the editing was much more dynamic (the editor was male, Twilight’s was female in case anyone’s wondering).
Taylor Lautner did very well though. His brand of acting is a bit different and I think less effected by this sort of editing. I would still have preferred to see his performance edited in the Twilight vein though. He’s good with awkwardness and awkwardness is something that works much better in slower editing styles (I really needed the shot of his face after he said “hey” in the the clip I embedded to be longer ;)), but he was awesome anyway - I really enjoyed him. He’s the leading man in this one, so he got a lot more to work with. And he’s really well cast - he makes a great contrast to the much more aloof screen presences of Pattinson and Stewart.
Billy Burke (Bella’s dad) was great too - he had some great lines and really delivered on them.
A nice surprise was that they actually made more effort to flesh out the Cullens. In the first film only Edward and Dr Cullen really came through. The rest of the Cullens were very generic. This time they put in a lot more effort into them. I don’t think they had any more screen time than in the first film, but the few lines they had, gave you just enough of an idea of their personalities (you can see some of that in this scene). Jasper Cullen still came out a bit bland (he is in some ways very difficult to get “right”), but I was positively surprised to hear him speaking with a Southern accent (I don’t think that was the case in the previous film).
Also, the vampire make-up was kind of more in line with the books this time round. But I think they overdid it a bit (in Twilight it was over the top too though).

Er no, not really :] If you must, then see it for Taylor Lautner (I thought he was absolutely fab). The book is so much better.

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