The Twilight Saga: New Moon
To admit that I actually expected ‘New Moon’ to be an improvement over the predecessor now puts me to shame. Though hardcore fans will get a kick out of watching a half-naked Taylor Lautner and brooding Robert Pattinson, ‘The Twilight Saga: New Moon’ is an overlong and overtly serious romance that has an agonizingly slow [...]
To admit that I actually expected ‘New Moon’ to be an improvement over the predecessor now puts me to shame. Though hardcore fans will get a kick out of watching a half-naked Taylor Lautner and brooding Robert Pattinson, ‘The Twilight Saga: New Moon’ is an overlong and overtly serious romance that has an agonizingly slow pace and plays like a lifeless soap opera with a bunch of sparkly vampires and topless werewolves thrown in. And this is coming from someone who liked the first film.
Bella (Kirsten Stewart) is enjoying her romance with vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) until an unfortunate incident at her birthday party leads Edward to believe that she is not safe with him around. Hence, he moves away with his family out of the town and vows to never see her again. This puts Bella into major depression as she develops suicidal tendencies just to meet Edward again. But things change once she reconnects with her mysteriously buff childhood friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner) and is left with a harrowing choice between two lovers when Edward decides to sacrifice himself to the clan of Volturi in the name of love.
First things first, it’s very easy to notice that the movie has much better production values this time around. The effects look better and so do the backdrops. New director Chris Weitz adds his own visual magic to the film (although I liked the blue tint of the first movie better). But all that cannot save the movie from its god-awful script. After an interesting opening sequence, the film shifts mode into soap opera mode with some of the corniest dialogue to hit screen coupled with awkward glances that return from the first film. Every scene plays out in the blandest possible way with two static characters rambling on and on about the issues they have. ‘I love you’, ‘I love you, too’, ‘Age is just a number baby’ – lines like these are uttered without a shred of substance of subtext make you wonder if they even cared about the dialogue or just moving the story along. Add to that the heavy-handed and monotonous narration by Bella throughout the movie narrating superfluous elements and treating it like her Dear Diary. Consider this narration – “I wish I could tell you about Jake. He makes me feel better. I mean, he makes me feel alive. The hole in my chest… well, when I’m with Jake it’s like it’s almost healed for a while.” Do they really think teenage girls are so dumb that every emotion has to be spelled out and hammered down for them to be understood?
Perhaps the biggest issue here is pacing. Unlike the first film which had a story to tell since it was an origin one, this one has virtually no plot at all. And despite that, it runs a mind-numbing 2 hours and 10 minutes long. The moment Edward leaves Bella for good, what should have been a two to three minute montage sequence about her being depressed about it runs an agonizing thirty minutes long before anything develops. She rides bikes recklessly, tries to get Edward to react by doing dangerous things, cries in her bed, detaches herself from reality and so many more things that prove the same point we got in the beginning for an endless amount of time. This brings the film’s pace down to a screeching halt as one waits for any development to take place. Things don’t even improve when Jacob steps in as more of the same soap opera moments we tolerated in the first half hour return with awkward glances and cheesy dialogue to boot.
It’s obvious that the most charismatic and central character in the series is vampire Edward Cullen himself. And the moment he leaves the screen at the 20 minute mark, things go downhill. The writer understands that the target audience is here for Edward and in a futile attempt to give them that, tries to inject the presence of Edward into almost every major scene with Bella in the form of a spirit that deflates the energy out of that scene. He momentarily pops up and says ‘Don’t’ just before Bella tries anything reckless and goes away. He returns in a climactic moment to guide Bella through a conversation with evil vampire Laurent. Is it just me or did he promise she would never see him again?
The best moment in the film is definitely when Bella makes her way to Italy to save Edward from the clan of Volturi and their intent to kill him (which reeks of Romeo and Juliet). The Volturi clan is led by Michael Sheen who gives an enjoyably cheesy performance as Aro and is the shining star for the film. This climactic battle is tense and well-shot and definitely the one part of the film that delivers on entertainment. Too bad then that when the tension is at its most rising point, it is cut short with a whimper for later sequels as a tease. What follows is another touching moment in the film where Bella makes her choice between Edward and Jacob. One wonders if the rest of the film moved along and delivered on emotional resonance this way, it would have been much more enjoyable.
On the acting front, Kirsten Stewart plays herself which is fortunately pretty much Bella Swan itself. However, there’s not a shred of emotion to be found on her face and that comes off as wooden. Robert Pattinson shines in the few moments that he is given and is clearly the backbone of the film. Taylor Lautner has the charm to woo the teenage girls and delivers on that but his dialogue delivery and expressions leave something to be desired. Other cast members are standard in a script that doesn’t require them to do much, with the exception of Dakota Fanning who impresses in a very limited role as Volturi member Jane.
In the end, I’m afraid my review here is not strong enough to sway the hardcore fans at all from watching the movie. It has already broken all kinds of records in the U.S. and I know it will top the U.A.E. boxoffice too. But that still doesn’t change the fact that New Moon is a decidedly inferior sequel that lacks the energy or mystery of the first film and ends up being a lifeless bore for the most part that is bound to satisfy none but the hardcore fanatics shrieking and screaming at every sighting of their beloved heroes. The movie is clearly tailor-made for the teenage girls where vampires sparkle in the sun and even werewolves look like cute puppies. Everyone else is advised to watch the brilliant ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ which is in theaters now.