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Movie Review: New Moon

By Matthew Huntley

December 9, 2009

Look, you've already hooked up with everyone else in the story. What's one more?

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Everything was going so well, too. Just as Edward and Bella's star-crossed relationship continued to blossom, which, under the circumstances - he being a 104-year-old vampire, she being a regular teenager - is pretty good, she gets a paper cut (yes, a paper cut) on her 18th birthday. Right then and there, everything changes. The mere sight of human blood sends Edward's brother off the deep end and he ferociously tries to attack Bella. Edward then realizes that as long as she's a part of his world, he won't always be around to protect her.

Her solution: become a vampire herself. That way, she won't have to grow old while her beau stays youthful (these are the kinds of things she dreams about). But Edward says no, and after he leaves, Bella suddenly finds herself drawn to her friend Jacob, who's also plagued with a supernatural curse - he's a werewolf.

Man, oh man. What is a girl to do?

I know there are millions of Twilight fans out there - particularly teenage girls - who are going to walk out of New Moon and believe it to be the greatest movie ever made. It is not. But it is better than the original Twilight, and that's probably because it's got a bigger budget, higher production values, the actors are more experienced, the new director is more assured and the studio behind it, Summit Entertainment, has already tested the waters and knows what they got right and wrong with the first film. Here, they get more right.

There are some critics who probably believe the source material automatically puts New Moon into a category it couldn't possibly escape - the melodramatic teenage soap opera - but I think content like this can be done well so it becomes high quality (consider Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel or any superhero film). Not that high quality or mass appeal is the goal for those responsible for The Twilight Saga." They, particularly the financiers, seem perfectly happy with it just the way it is, with its hokey melodrama, superficial acting and often laughable dialogue. Their agenda isn't to win Oscars, but to please the fan base of Stephenie Meyer's best sellers, which, in turn, makes a huge profit.




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I don't consider this good filmmaking practice, but it's also not enough to write the movie off. I actually enjoyed New Moon for its action and more stylized scenes. One of these is when Bella (Kristen Stewart) walks through the sun-filled woods with Edward (Robert Pattinson) and see an incarnation of her older self. This sets up an interesting conflict - is Bella willing to let herself grow old while Edward stays the same?

Another strong sequence takes place when Bella's nemesis, Victoria (Rachelle Lefevre), runs around the forest and gets chased off by Jacob's (Taylor Lautner) pack of werewolves. I also liked the development of Bella becoming fearless now that her beloved Edward is no longer in the picture. It adds an extra layer to think she's perhaps more in love with the dangerous idea of dating a vampire than this particular vampire himself.

Some of the dialogue is also catchy, like the lines, "It's a wolf thing"; "I've never seen anybody so prone to life-threatening idiocy"; or "Werewolves don't make good company." It's not Shakespeare, mind you, but it did amuse me.

There are, of course, millions of people who will see the movie that also read the books (I'm not one of them) and they'll keep a checklist of everything that is said or happens. When they find out screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg and director Chris Weitz remained loyal to the source, they'll hug themselves. If it was up to me, some of the movie would have been trimmed, particularly parts of its third act, in which we watch Edward face off with the Volturi, an ancient Italian vampire tribe. This section went on too long and isn't nearly as interesting as the filmmakers probably believe.

I'll be forgetting New Moon in a couple weeks, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't entertained by it. In seven months, when Eclipse comes out, it won't be hard to catch back up. These movies aren't nearly as intricate or plot-heavy as Harry Potter (they're also not as deep). This is lightweight, breezy teenage drama that feels amateurish compared to others of its kind, and while it lacks a certain wit and emotion, it's sort of a charming guilty pleasure. Who knows, by the time the third installment comes around, I might actually start to take the series half-way seriously.


     


 
 

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