The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009) – Film Review

New Moon (2009)THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON has to be the most anticipated film of the year, at least by high-school girls. I’ve read the Stephanie Meyer books on which this film and its predecessor, TWILIGHT, were based, and thought they told a great story. The first film, however, left me disappointed:TWILIGHT was not gritty enough, and the actors were not capable of expressing the deep emotions of the characters. The result was nice and charming but could have been much more. As a mother of a teenage daughter, there was no way NEW MOON was going to pass me by, and in any case, I hoped it’d be an improvement. Sadly it lacks even the charm of TWILIGHT, but that’s not to say it’s all bad.

I should start by saying that Pattinson is the most bizarre choice to play Edward! This is supposed to be the most gorgeous man imaginable – too beautiful to be human – and yet Pattinson, who looks fine from the front, has a profile that is stomach-churningly weird! (I have a feeling I’ll be getting hate mail for this!)

As a horror fan, I would prefer these films with a real element of danger in them; they could have – and should have - been at least a little bit scary. Instead, the filmmakers choose to focus almost entirely on the relationship between Bella and Edward, with the ‘vampire thing’ being the modern day version of dating a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. So what we have in New Moon is the second in a series of romances.

Edward is scared for Bella’s safety, knowing that so much as a paper cut has a certain member of his family licking his/her lips. So, with his usual pained expression, he tells Bella ‘This is the last time you’ll ever see me.’ Whilst we know this promise can’t possibly be true, there is a long period of screentime when I almost began to miss that weird looking vampire!

Initially distraught, Bella spends months crying in her room (this kind of obsession is unhealthy – and teenage girls need to know this!). Her father is worried, and threatens to send her home to her mother; Bella wants to stay in Forks, should Edward have a change of heart (although why Edward is so attracted to this clumsy, awkward girl, with no personality, remains a mystery!).

To appease her father Bella makes an effort to hang out with her mates, in particular Jacob. Realising that when she puts herself in danger, she sees crystal clear images of Edward acting like her guardian angel, Bella begins to put herself at risk, pulling increasingly dangerous stunts. Edward, believing one of these stunts has led to the demise of his beautiful Bella, goes insane with sorrow and rushes off on a suicide mission to Italy to reveal himself. The Volturi – the Godfathers of the vampire world - will kill him if he reveals himself for what he is. Bella and Alice are hot on his heels, but can they reach him in time?

Bella’s life has been further complicated by Jacob: he clearly adores Bella, and she definitely has feelings for him. While Edward is absent, Bella is tempted by Jacob; though I found their relationship unconvincing, I’m not surprised she would be interested: he’s beautiful, honest and reliable. Of course Jacob is no ordinary teenager, and it’s not just that he has a body hot enough to make the entire audience gasp the minute they see him – no, he’s a werewolf! Sworn to protect his turf from vampires, but torn because of his love for Bella and her love for Edward!

Man, this is complicated stuff; unfortunately, it is written for the teenage audience and therefore is simplified beyond belief. The film moves so abruptly through time that I am grateful I had read the book; otherwise, I’m sure I would have enjoyed New Moon even less.

Of course, there is no question that New Moon does exactly what was intended: it has teenage girls everywhere arguing about whether they are on Team Edward or Team Jacob! So what is it that makes Twilight so appealing in spite of the fact that it’s poorly acted and nothing near as good as it could be? Well, who doesn’t love the idea of invincible, beautiful vampires living amongst us? What could be sweeter than the thought that one of these divine creatures could fall for us, and maybe even take us with them into their world? What about werewolves who would die to protect us? It’s a nice idea, and certainly for girls, this idea coupled with the eye-candy is enough to keep us on tenterhooks for the next in the series – and once you’ve accepted that the Twilight series is not going to be the dark and sinister gritty tale it could have been, but rather a sweet, teenage romance with a twist, you might actually find yourself enjoying it!

TWILIGHT: NEW MOON (2009). Directed by Chris Weitz. Screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg, based on the novel by Stephanie Meyer. Cast: Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, Ashley Greene, Anna Kendrick, Michael Welch, Justin Chon.

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Deborah Louise Robinson

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