California Literary Review

Movie Review: New Moon

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November 21st, 2009 at 12:54 am

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Movie Poster: New Moon
The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Directed by Chris Weitz
Screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg

Bella Swan – Kristen Stewart
Edward Cullen – Robert Pattinson
Jacob Black – Taylor Lautner
Alice Cullen – Ashley Greene
Victoria – Rachelle Lefevre
Charlie Swan – Billy Burke
Dr. Carlisle Cullen – Peter Facinelli
Rosalie Hale – Nikki Reed

CLR Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Movie Still: New Moon

A Catastrophic Romance Can’t Be Saved by Its Charming Young Cast

In line for the second movie in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight vampire romance saga, New Moon, a middle-aged woman clasps her hands in front of her mouth as if in prayer. “I’m so excited!” she murmurs to her daughter. In the theater, a girl two seats down curls up, removes her shoes, and avidly studies the copy of New Moon in her lap until the lights go down. A horde of ten- or eleven-year-olds doesn’t even bother getting seats, instead flopping on the floor in the front of the theater. When the projector rolls the film, hushed whispers and girlish cries reverberate through the theater. This is the Twilight phenomenon.

Anyone who hasn’t been hiding under a rock for the last two years has surely caught on to the Twilight madness. Stephenie Meyer’s fantasy romance novel Twilight jumped to the top of the New York Times bestseller lists immediately upon publication in 2006, and the author followed the original with three more books, causing a ruckus among teenage girls around the world. Her novels follow Bella, a normal teenage girl from a broken but loving family, through her romance with Edward, a 108-year-old vampire in the body of a gorgeous seventeen year old. The books, though terribly written, are a hypnotic and addictive phenomenon. Their appeal lies in the innocent, tantalizing relationship between Edward and Bella. In Meyer’s world, sex before marriage is forbidden, and every touch and kiss is perilous. Her ability to accurately ascribe both maturity and passion to teenagers drew an ardent fan base. Tweens and middle-aged women, calling themselves Twihards and TwilightMoms, latched on to the books with an insane fervor. When Summit Pictures released the first film adaptation in 2008, it caught like wildfire, throwing its reluctant cast into an international bout of lunacy.

The second film takes dreamy vampire love interest Edward (Robert Pattinson) out of the picture—he has to leave Bella (Kristen Stewart) because he figures he’s endangering her, since he can barely contain his bloodlust (emphasis on the lust). In his absence, Bella suffers the horrid agony of losing him, but then befriends Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), who becomes her “own personal sunshine.” Jacob just happens to be a werewolf whose sole purpose is to kill vampires. When Edward hears Bella has committed suicide (this is untrue), he decides to off himself as well; the book and the movie shamelessly reference Romeo & Juliet. To do so, he has to anger the vampire royalty, the Volturi, so they’ll execute him. This is as easy as stepping into the sunlight, because Meyer’s vampires don’t melt or burst into flames when exposed to ultraviolet rays; they sparkle. Bella must race to save him from himself, and all ends happily ever after (almost). If it sounds utterly cheesy, that’s because it is.

The script is a disaster, though to be fair, the cast do their damndest to act through terrible lines and preposterous plot twists. Kristen Stewart, a slight brunette always clad in hoodies and Chuck Taylors, is subtle and touching. Bella is effectively a blank canvas upon which teenage girls can project their own insecurities and misgivings, and Stewart possesses a raw vulnerability that makes her character identifiable, though infuriating. Throughout the books and films, Bella is a weak, fainting damsel in distress, and eventually readers and viewers wonder why on earth she’s so important to everyone around her. Seventeen-year-old Taylor Lautner, the caramel-skinned heartthrob who plays Jacob, bulked up until he’s so muscular it’s hard not to gape—especially when the camera lovingly lingers on his physique (to the shrieking delight of women everywhere). Luckily, Lautner is both charming and innocently sweet, and the chemistry between him and Stewart is palpable. Michael Sheen, a Brit with a formidable acting resume, steals the final act as Aro, the Volturi’s powerful leader. Grinning, cheerful, and utterly eerie, Sheen adds a bit of stimulation to an otherwise dull encounter.

No expense was spared in the film’s effects budget, and it pays off. The werewolves take a distinct visual cue from The Neverending Story’s creepy G’mork, and though the fight scenes rely perhaps too much on slow motion, they’re executed masterfully. The soundtrack, featuring emo-pop artists like Muse, Thom Yorke, Death Cab for Cutie, and The Killers, is both catchy and monotonous. Alexandre Desplat’s score, heavy on piano, is melodic and pretty: the perfect background music for a doomed romance. The movie positively drags at two hours eleven minutes; when the kids at the front of the theater start chatting amongst themselves during the “tense” final scenes, something’s not right.

Summit publicly fired director Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown) after the first film, replacing her with Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass, About a Boy). Hardwicke’s Twilight had a shaky, independent quality that gave it a realistic feel, but New Moon feels less authentic and more ridiculous. Though the Twilight books may be a guilty pleasure, the films are proving to be little more than industry cash cows. David Slade, whose last vampire movie 30 Days of Night didn’t fare well in box offices, is set to helm the third installment. Perhaps he can pick up the slack, but in the end, the film’s young and charming cast may be the series’ saving grace. Pattinson and Stewart’s are-they-aren’t-they, tabloid-fed offscreen relationship is perhaps the most interesting result of New Moon, and as they say, that ain’t much.

New Moon Trailer

  • Laura

    As an adult fan of the series, I disagree with your review. I found the movie to be visually beautiful, the emotions to be powerful, the actors on point, the storyline faithful to the book. No one was “chatting during the final scenes” in our theatre. In fact you could have heard a pin drop.

  • Rosalinda

    I fell asleep. Twice.

  • Deborah

    I missed Catherine Hardwicke as director. New Moon has Cheezy settings & cardboard action.
    If it weren’t for Catherine Hardwicke directing Twilight & her talent….the Twilight saga would have fizzled to TV movies.

    Miss Bella’s thought dialoge’s.
    Too much film wasted on watching yellow car racing to save Edward. Boring!

    Lines are true to book but where’s the feelings?

    Then finally the ending came & I left disappointed with many others expressing same.

    Eclipe & Breaking Dawn? I’ll wait for reviews then maybe buy DVD.

  • http://www.coffeebreakwithlizandkate.com Movies

    Twilight Saga is a much awaited movie. It is the romance in it that pulls the crowd out.

  • Ethan

    The music was brilliant throughout. New Moon is the most difficult book to read because of the dark tone in the first half. It is a MUCH better read the second time through. I think critics are reacting this way when they are coming in cold. It’s a film for the fans, Weitz said (after alienating Compass fans) that he would never stray again, he has delivered a very true version and the fans are hailing him.

    Eclipse is decidedly more intense and less morose. Slade is also a lot more edgy than the old-fashioned Weitz. I wonder how next summer’s release will play?…

  • twiLIGHTER

    i completely agree with this review, perhaps differing on the point of music… i found it incredibly easy to talk during the film, not missing much and there were horridly awkward pauses that made me wonder if the actors were failing or if the script was a train-wreck. i really think that rob and kristen will probably be the only reason most of us go to the next movies.
    when twilight came out, it was magical and amazing and i disagreed with the reviews that were harsh, but for this movie, i completely agree with the harsh reviews. as someone said “a morning-after mope-fest”

  • http://twitter.com/YODOG115 Samantha

    i just saw new moon yesterday on the day that it came out and it was amazing. jacob(taylor lautner) was alot hotter in new moon because that he had cut his hair.new moon does not have any cheesey settingsd and yeah of course that cathrine hardrick would have been a better director but the movie has turned out great. if i would have to pick a side for team jacob or edward i would have to say team edward and jacob. they are both very hot in this movie. i encourage people to go and see new moon becasue it is alot beter than twilight. people that love the twilight saga would especially love new moon. especially the part where jacob jumps into bellas wondow and they almost kiss.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!LOVED THE MOVIE!!!!!AND ANYONE THAT DOESENT LIKE THE MOVIE CAN GO TO ****!!!!!!!!BYE BYE!!!!

  • http://twitter.com/YODOG115 Samantha

    i dont belive that i would ever be able to fall asleep in a twilight saga movie. they are all do beatiful and i love all the books toooo!!!!LOL!!!!

  • Dena

    I’m afraid you are inccorect. Everyone thinks they KNOW about how awful twilight is. If it is so poorly written, so dreadfully cheesy, why do people love it? Maybe its because it’s NOT! And if it is, wouldnt that mean that lots of people like cheesy, therefore changing cheesy into a compliment? No one can ignore the fact that over 40,000,000 people bought New Moon tickets before the movie was even released, an all time record for the USA. Nothing, not even your beloved Harry Potter has beaten that. So let me get this straight- over 100,000,000 (100 million) people are obsessed with Twilight, between ages 9 and 40 (most common), and its STILL an “epic failure”? I’m sorry, but you are incorrect.

  • Dani

    Okay, all I have to say is that this movie rocked and kicked ass. Taylor was amazing and kristen actually had emotion in this one. YAY! Taylor and kristen have amazing chemistry, and the way they looked at each other…oh god, I was sweating. BUT… the main reason why I positivly loved it was because dumb ass face EDWARD HARDLY WAS THERE!!!!!!!!!

  • George Scott

    The movie had some good parts but some of it felt like it was rushed through editing or cheap angle shots were made to add drama (spinning the camera while she lay on the ground)… I liked the first one for the great colors and editing although the quality of acting from Kristin is much better in this new one.

  • Malinda

    I loved New Moon! I think that Chris did an awesome job! The only thing that upset me,was how quick the ending was! I was SOOO not ready 4 it to end! Congratulations 2 everyone involved with New Moon 4 shattering records at the box office! I knew you could and would do it! So 4 all u Twi-Haters out there, talk 2 the hand cause we aint listening!

  • Guiseppi

    Chris Weitz is a pretty competent director, and he’s always faithful to the source material, so he can’t be faulted, it’s just maybe that Twilight’s really lame. I haven’t seen the film so I’m not gonna join the New Moon hate bandwagon, but I have read the series, and it’s a bad piece of literature yet it is so addicting.

    “…emo-pop artists like Muse, Thom Yorke,…..”
    Thom Yorke is not emo, neither is he pop.

  • J

    You’re correct about Thom Yorke. I was really surprised he was on the soundtrack. I’m a Radiohead fan, and it sort of made me scratch my head that he’d attach himself to this movie in particular. Anyway, the rest of the music there does pretty much fit into the emo-pop category. Yorke just got lumped in.

  • http://yahoo karen

    The movie did not pierce my heart compared to how I felt when I read the book. There’s a lot of missing emotions. I think the director did not do well in capturing the emotions of the characters. I want to see it again just for the sake of confirming what is missing there but I might just wait until it’s available on DVD. Acting was not that good.

  • http://www.google.com marlette Age: 15

    it was a very interesting movie but i fell usleep twice.

  • Malinda

    I went and saw New Moon again 4 the 2nd time this passed Saturday, and I think it was even better than the 1st time! I think I was so excited about seeing it November 20th that I didn’t fully take it in! 2 anybody out there who has only watched it once and felt like the movie was rushed should maybe go see it again! Im sooo glad I did!

  • Justin

    Well, I saw the movie twice and did not fell asleep.
    New Moon is great! Yes you’re right, the emotions are not excessively expressed like in the book. I think the score is really disappointing. It is not Kristen or Roberts fault, they are great actors! I love them. When the break-up came, it could be more tear-jerking with a better soundtrack. But it is definitely a wonderful movie. I totally agree with Malina: the second time was way better because I went to see it at the premiere in the night and thought I didn’t feel like Twilight. So go see it again!

  • Mia

    I am a huge fan of the twilight series. The books are amazing. I have read them to the point where I understand each character down to how they wear their hair but the movies are brilliantly horrid! Twilight was much better than new moon but honestly neither was fantastic. People love the movies because of the books. I waited anxiously for new moon to come out knowing it was going to be bad. It was cheezy, melodramatic, and badly directed. (Muse is not emo. I love them)

  • Queen

    I must say that New moon was my favorit from the saga but the movie really sucks. I was in the “party” minute and I just fell aslee. I couldn’t help it! It is such a terrible movie that I just stopped thinking for a while. I had never seen a movie that boring before.

  • Mary

    I was completely drawn in to Twilight. It seemed more beautiful and intense. Although the story has taken another course in New Moon there is no reason why it shouldn’t have been just as satisfying. All of the emotions are still there. Why didn’t it show?! Many scenes were poorly displayed. I was so excited, but was let down. I wonder how it would have turned out had Catherine Hardwicke directed the film.

  • Schmitty

    Bella is CRAZY AWKWARD.
    A little emotion would be nice..
    Really dislike Twilight Saga.

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