What’s there to be said about the Twilight Saga that hasn’t already been said ten times over by critics baffled by its astronomical success all over the world?
Bottom line is that these movies aren’t made for us which is blindingly clear from the first loving slo-mo shot of Robert Pattinson’s Edward Cullen walking sexily towards Kristen Stewart’s Bella Swan, his shirt blowing in the breeze to the stunning care taken in photographing Taylor Lautner’s bare chest at several points throughout the film. This is strictly teen girl territory, and speaking as someone who forced her Dad to drive her into the city to see Corey Haim movies over and over back in the ’80s, on some level I can relate to the mania even though, quite frankly, New Moon isn’t a very good film.
This installment picks up a few months after the end of Twilight. It’s Bella’s 18th birthday and she worries that she’ll soon grow too old to be attractive to her never-aging boyfriend Edward. She begs him to turn her into a vampire but Edward refuses and after an ill-fated birthday party that almost gets Bella killed by one of the Cullens, Edward decides he’s too dangerous for Bella and takes off with his family, leaving Bella a bedridden, nightmare-plagued wreck. It’s only through her friendship with younger man/soon-to-become-a-werewolf Jacob Black but Bell develops a penchant for putting herself in danger after she discovers it causes an image of Edward to appear to her. Ultimately her actions result in an impromtu trip to see the Volturi, a tribunal of vampiric elders, that puts her life as well as that of all the Cullens in danger.
Never mind the terrible message this sends to younger fans of the series, New Moon also manages to take teen melodrama in its simplest form (think Romeo & Juliet, which New Moon is trying to mirror) and make it deadly dull. Clocking in at 2 hours and 10 minutes there are stretches where not a lot happens besides Jacob professing his love for Bella, or Edward professing his love for Bella, or Bella professing her love for Edward…or Edward and Jacob discussing their mutual love for Bella — seriously, we get the point. Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg is obviously trying to stay as true to the source material as possible, but that’s a mistake. This is a story that could easily have been told in 90 minutes.
Director Chris Weitz takes a much more straight-forward approach than Twilight‘s arty, blue-hued look via indie director Catherine Hardwicke (and that’s necessary for a story that involves the need for so much FX) but it still doesn’t feel like Summit has found the right person for the job. The movie suffers from far too much earnestness when it should just be embracing its soap opera roots and running with them. Much like Bella Swan herself, the Twilight series suffers from a severe lack of fun and that’s mainly what will send me running straight back into the arms of Corey Haim and The Lost Boys when I need my pretty boy teen vampire fix.
Special Features: a commentary with director Chris Weitz and editor Peter Lambert, an hour-long documentary covering the post-premiere Twilight world, Weitz’s entrance, the cinematic details, and special effects and four music videos