The Twilight Saga: New Moon(2009)
- RatedPG /GenreDrama, Romance
Movie Details | Photo Gallery | Trailer
Rating: 2 out of 5
It will matter little to diehard fans that this sequel to the franchise behemoth sparked by last year's sleeper hit Twilight does not match up well to its modest predecessor.
In fact, the popularity of Stephenie Meyers' books, the hype that followed Twilight, and the burgeoning fame that has earned leading stars -- and rumoured lovebirds -- Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart cult followings, ensures that the movie fanbase is probably growing bigger by the day.
It is a growth that cannot be stymied by one or a hundred bad reviews.
From a critical point of view, it was intriguing what a filmmaker (in this case, About a Boy's Chris Weitz) would do when faced with source material that is the stuff of far-fetched teenaged fantasies, a rabid fanbase that has to be satisfied, and the ability to take artistic liberties for the sake of the said fanbase.
Judging by the final product, the filmmaker decided to stay true to the material, please the fans (and the investors), and bore the neutrals along the way.
In a way, Weitz had the green light to make a mediocre movie with impunity and come through with his reputation intact. Early box-office counts that contain eye-popping numbers support this hypothesis.
The Twilight Saga: New Moon is ponderous film no matter how many whoops and squeals it generates at cinemas worldwide. It is as difficult to argue with this type of success as it is to feel comfortable with it.
Without directly criticising Meyers' writing, one can safely say that it is primarily targeted at teenaged girls and younger ladies -- though age is not a stumbling block for fanaticism.
When you come right down to it, there is very little true conflict in this film. The same convictions and reservations that Edward Cullen (Pattinson) and Bella Swan (Stewart) had about their star-crossed relationship persist from Twilight.
For anyone who's not been paying attention, the pair are from different worlds. As an immortal, Edward is forever 17, causing Bella, who turns 18 at the start of this film, to start having vivid dreams about growing old and eventually losing her true love.
A birthday party incident whereby one of the Cullen clan threatens Bella's life convinces Edward that she will always be imperilled by his proximity. Abruptly, the Cullens leave.
This happens in the first half-hour of a 130-minute movie. The rest of the film has Bella first heartbroken and depressed -- cue repeated forlorn looks -- then wilful as she recklessly puts herself in harm's way to spite Edward and entice him to return.
Then the unintended comedy begins. It is a veritable beefcake festival as muscled men start to appear shirtless again and again... and again.
A confused Bella seeks comfort in her Native American friend Jacob (Tyler Lautner), who appears to have undergone the Rafael Nadal bodybuilding regime, and discovers that the woods harbour another mythical creature (just what is in the water in Forks, Washington?).
With dark forces closing in, and Edward's protective aura absent, she must survive long enough to find the Cullens and prevent Edward from making a monumental mistake.
In terms of acting, the talented Stewart has to be frustrated. Her role boxes her in as a damsel in distress, a silly teenager adamant about becoming a vampire to spend eternity with Edward. The script calls for her to give anguished looks and deliver agitated, halting dialogue.
The wooden Lautner and a perpetually brooding Pattinson get in on the fun, also making threats or proclaiming love with tortured, I'm-in-such-pain speeches; that is, when they're not participating in trendy music-accompanied slow-motion or chest-bearing sequences.
By the time the final unintended joke is unleashed upon the audience, it's clear that New Moon offers precious little that is fresh or in-depth as an exploration of vampire/monster lore, or teenage romances for that matter.
And it engenders little empathy for its characters, who perhaps don't need it from the legions of fans who matter -- a comforting thought for the investors, the cast and crew, and Meyers this must be.
About Yong Shu Chiang
Yong Shu Chiang, otherwise known as SC, is a freelance editor and writer. He reviewed movies for Juice magazine when he was in college, and was the resident film reviewer for Today Newspaper from 2003 to 2005. He has also reviewed movies for Prime Time Morning on Channel NewsAsia.
"Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in!"
- Michael Corleone, The Godfather Part III