The second film installment of Stephenie Meyer’s grotesquely popular vampire series has certainly raised the bar from it’s previous and highly-mediocre (many say “dreadful”) first film. Catherine Hardwicke (Lords of Dogtown, The Nativity Story) is out of the director’s chair for this one, and is replaced by the slightly-more-polished, Chris Weitz (About A Boy, The Golden Compass)… why?… supposedly because of “time constraints”, but my inner opinion poll says otherwise. Critics and vampire fanatics are, again, having a field day with the emergence of New Moon.
A money machine – New Moon placed third on the all-time domestic chart, bested only by Spider-Man 3 ($151.1 million in 2007) and The Dark Knight ($158.4 million in 2008). It’s amazing that, with the amount of money that Twilight is pulling in [$69.6 million in the opening weekend (Twilight) compared to $142.8 for New Moon], the studios couldn’t find a more seasoned director, however, the studio’s choice in Chris Weitz turns out to be a wise one.
After being briefed the story by my girlfriend (who has read the Twilight Series) I had the gut feeling that I’d hold this particular film in higher esteem. I consider myself wildly romantic and have no problem sitting down and watching a well-done love story (i.e. The Notebook, Sleepless in Seattle). I had, however, become quite tiresome of the Edward and Bella’s “You’re my life… You are my soul” talk. Then they attempt at a kiss… sometimes convulsing with pleasure and, per example (in the New Moon), performing what I call “The makes-me-giggle kiss of whimpering-ecstasy.” (giggles continue just thinking about it)
New Moon limits the amount of quasi-kanoodling and vomitous lubby-love-talk by Edward (Robert Pattinson) proclaiming to Bella (Kristen Stewart) that they “Can never see each other again.” Ex-squeeze me? Baking Powder? Bella then drops into a mad, heroin-junkie-like depression, that is, until she finds out that she can can connect with Edward by walking towards the dark edge of death (i.e. motorcycles, ocean-side cliffs, etc.). And then comes the fangirl moment, when native american-werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner) strips off his shirt in stripper-fashion to blot Bella’s motorcycle injury (let’s not go even go there!). It’s all doggy-style from then on, until a misunderstanding leads Edward to think that Bella is dead. And the rest… you’ll have to see for yourself.
The acting is much improved and has the added stardom of Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon) as Aro of the Volturi and Dakota Fanning (Man on Fire, Push) as Jane, the sadistic and tele-destructive dark vampress. With Chris Weitz at the helm, the film is expertly paced with the script, and this enables his actors to take control by acting (not by drowning the performances with unneeded, swirling camera shots). The CGI of the werewolves still leaves the techno-realist in me wanting more wolf, less animation, but perhaps, we are just not there yet. How can they make a 40-ton King Kong that would make Diane Fossey pee in her pants, but we can’t do the same for wolves? Maybe they just hooked up with the people that did the Coca-Cola polar bear/penquin commercials and said “They will be fine.” Still enjoyable, but if you are wanting me to believe in werewolves, you’ve got to do better than that.
There are two shots that I particularly liked – the first being an encircling shot of heartbroken Bella as she sits in her chair, each rotation giving rise to a change of season. And two (where the CGI shines), on observing a painting of the Volturi (the vampire equivalent of high priest councel-ruling class) the facet and crosshatch lines of the paint smooth as the camera lens zooms, becoming as a real-time window into the Volturi life.
The truth of the matter is that New Moon didn’t need to do much to outdo its predecessor. I think we all realized that. Critics will undoubtedly scream that the story is diving away from its source; that being the relationship between Edward and Bella. But even the critics must not take these events, characters and dialogue too seriously…. For it seems that, some of the its flaws, are designed to help keep it as authentically real as possible. Because only a character like Bella can say:
(Bella to Jacob) : You’re so warm! You’re like your own sun.
We forgive her every oddity and we should, because despite some pretty wack lines, Stewart carries the movie on her shoulders. And with a red-headed and revenge-driven vampire still on her tracks, and my girlfriend’s assurance of “more Dakota Fanning to come”… I’m sure to be another warm body in the theater seat for film number trois.
Please give your thoughts on New Moon below! I’m eagerly awaiting my feeding… of fresh comments. Cheers.
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