The Night Out: The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009), or Werewolves Give Me A Wetty

22 11 2009

Well, time doesn’t really fly when you’re writing reviews and watching movies every day. Sometimes it’s excruciatingly drawn out. But every now and then, things creep up on you that you weren’t exactly prepared for. Around 11 months ago, I wrote my first review on here, a sample to test out the format of what would one day be my writing style for this very site. The review was for Twilight, everyone’s favorite female-orgasm-inducing fantasy romance. I found it to be a little naive, a little poorly conceived, and overall a bit disappointing. But, at the end of that test review, I stated very plainly that I would give the next film a chance, because I felt the seeds that were sown in the first film had the potential to blossom into something approaching a solid franchise. Case closed, game over, see you next time, and sayonara were my thoughts on the matter, and I was content to wait for the next film without talking or thinking about it. I, however, was about the only person on the planet who wanted to wait for any more Twilight discussions. Next thing I know, the entire world is talking about this franchise non-stop, waiting with a slack jaw and throbbing genitals for more; all my entertainment magazines were gearing up for New Moon fever, every female around me was picking sides on which of the leading men were hotter, and even the bookstore I work at suddenly became a souvenir shop for any merchandise that tried to fit a picture of Robert Pattinson’s pained face on it.

It’s all been a bit much, and now, almost a year later, we get the sequel that everyone’s been waiting for, New Moon, the continuation of Bella and Edward’s awkward ETERNAL LOVE. Problem is, it feels like I just saw the damn original, and I honestly wasn’t up for another 90 minutes of questioning a love that was supposed to be forever. Up until the lights went down, I was honestly a little bummed out about seeing it, and probably looked like a bit of a Glum Gus to Bren. But as soon as I saw the first trailer attached to this mega-ultra-super blockbuster, it suddenly occurred to me that I needed to get with the program; I had an obligation to be objective, no matter how much I was loathe to be. I needed to just calm down and get to movie watching for the sake of any modicum of integrity I’ve garnered over the past 11 months. And it also hit me that I was hanging out on my day off with the girl of my dreams watching a movie in a nice, clean theater, so I really didn’t have a whole lot to complain about as far as my condition went. So, completely serious, what did I think of the movie, all bullshit aside? Well…

Okay, I really, really don’t want to have to set up this movie, because I think just about everyone on Earth as of this reading is aware of what Twilight is about; human girl in love with vampire guy, vampire guy in love but with misgivings about the nature of their unconventional relationship, other vampires and humans shake their heads trying to sort out their dumb, cow-eyed love for one another. Well, New Moon is the same thing, rinse and repeat, but adding werewolves into the list of people shaking their heads at Edward and Bella. Edward still has misgivings, which are made manifest after a mishap at Bella’s birthday party involving a hungry vampire and a, no joke, paper cut (!!!) causes Edward to leave Bella in order to keep his crazy vampire lifestyle from hurting her. Bella does what any normal person would do after getting dumped and completely shuts down for a few months. She is lost in a sea of immature emotions, and has nowhere to turn after Edward leaves. The only way she can even picture him is when she does something reckless, so she starts becoming an adrenaline junkie. Meanwhile, she also starts hanging out with Native American beefcake Jacob, her childhood friend, and a romance develops between the two of them that won’t go anywhere because Bella’s hung up on that damned vampire. So this keeps going back and forth for quite some time, with little interludes involving the vengeful vampire Victoria from the first film trying to kill Bella and Jacob protecting her with his obviously alluded-to lycanthropy, dancing a futile dance around their doomed love until news gets out that Edward is planning to kill himself in the most garish way possible after getting a false vision from his sister that Bella has died. Bella must travel to Italy to prevent this outlandish suicide, but will  will it be too late?

It’s really a trade-off. While it seems that the franchise has learned from a few of their previous mistakes, they seem proudly intent on keeping others like framed folk art on the wall. While I do applaud the series for making the incredibly brave speculation that maybe, just MAYBE Bella could have rushed too soon into something she wasn’t prepared for, as is exemplified by her immature handling of Edward’s departure, they’re not exactly condemning it, and they might just be all for it. Their relationship is shallow, baseless, and all-too stuffy and literary, especially for something that’s supposed to last forever, which makes it even more of a shame that childhood friend Jacob is even involved, because the kind of love they have is real and natural. Instead, he’s needlessly tangled up in this for the purpose of some half-hearted werewolf-vampire-human love triangle that is definitely isosceles in nature, ensuring that Jacob gets the tiny surface and is therefore doomed to being strung along the rest of the franchise.

And I’m not too sure I like the new vision of the saga. I think one of the things the original got right was the scope of the story. It really loses a lot of the romantic steam when it becomes bombastic and epic instead of the indie sensibility the first film maintained. This story doesn’t need to be Harry Potter and The Magical Vampire’s Chemically Unbalanced Bitch Girlfriend (coming soon); it just needs to be about people from two, and now three, different worlds and how they try to love one another in the tumult of their lives. Things get more complicated when they start to add more fight scenes and million-dollar special effects. Leave some of those out if you want it to be a more cohesive and streamlined experience; or add those, but maybe take away some of the ludicrous lingering ab shots that dot the landscape of this vampire romance from start to finish.

And the actors have stayed the same from the original; they’ve neither advanced or devolved, although when one considers that they really never took a break from filming this break-neck saga, maybe I shouldn’t expect them to. Kristen Stewart is Bella, the “main character” of this saga who has the “unenviable” task of choosing to live forever with a hot guy or live life as a human with a hot guy. Choices, choices. She has a distracting affectation that forces her to act with her mouth open, and it gets to be a problem when I’m expecting her to say something and it just ends up being her bottom lip taking a breather. Other than that, I don’t like her character, but she’s not bad as a young actress. Robert Pattinson is pretty much the same from before. Remember that time he got really emotional in the first and broke your heart? Oh, that’s right, I forgot; he never really emotes. Ever. Well, good thing he’s an actor, right? The most he does as Edward Cullen is look mildly annoyed with himself and everyone around him, though I probably would be if I was a vampire who was constantly doting on a human like Bella “I’ll String You Along As Long As It’s Convenient For Me” Swan. The real standout is Taylor Lautner, who plays the boy next door, Jacob. While I hate the guy personally (Bren is Team Jacob…), I don’t think he did half bad here. He was a real teenager here, which is striking when Kristen Stewart is trying to be an adult and Robert Pattinson is playing a guy born at the turn of the century. He even has a little bit of an arc, much to my surprise. If you’re going to watch this and pay as close attention to the acting as I had to as a critic, your best bet is to drown everyone out and focus on the lesser of three mediocrities.

I’m not doing New Moon any favors by reviewing it, I’m sure, and this review probably won’t be attracting any more people to the site considering who my readership consists of, so it’s a case of strange bedfellows, me reviewing this film. But, much like the romance between a vampire and a human, it just happened, so what can you do besides either go with it or bury the evidence? I would go so far as to say that this is a better movie than the original, but I don’t know what exactly it’s doing better. It’s marginally better looking, the soundtrack is better, and there’s a character here to root for, unlike the fatalistic first film, where everyhing was DESTINY. I don’t really like new director Chris Weitz’s vision for the franchise or what it means for the core story of the romance, and I really don’t like how both the characters and the people that portray them are ponies with but one trick between them. But I’d say it is a little better. I’ll bite one more time, and will probably watch the third one next year when it comes out, because I still think they can do something with this series. But from what I’ve heard of the later book installments, I’m not exactly what you’d call hopeful. As it stands, I give New Moon 4 1/2 isosceles love triangles out of 10.

Tomorrow I watch Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind! Until then!

And, for the curious ladies out there, if I had to pick between Jacob or Edward, I’d go Jacob all the way. But if I could choose any man in the saga, I would definitely go with Charlie, Bella’s dad. That’s right, I went there…