7 out of 10
I have to admit after watching the first Twilight I didn’t really understand what all of the buzz was about. I chalked this up to the fact that I’m not a teenager and I also don’t have a vagina (although sometimes I wish I did). Don’t get me wrong, by no means did I think Twilight was bad; it was merely okay. I’ve seen better, I’ve seen worse. New Moon is a marked improvement upon the first film and I actually found myself getting wrapped up in this modern day retelling of Romeo and Juliet with a supernatural twist. New Moon still isn’t the best movie I’ve ever seen, but if I were a fourteen year old girl, I’m sure it would be.
Despite taking place in a world of vampires and werewolves, at its core, Twilight has always been a soap opera. Call it Transylvania 90210. As this chapter begins, Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) are still madly in love. When Edward’s vampire family, the Cullens, throw a surprise 18th birthday party for Bella, things take a bad turn and Edward realizes that the only way to keep Bella out of harm’s way is to never see her again. Bella falls into a deep depression and only through her friendship with Jacob (Taylor Lautner) does she begin to heal. Jacob wants to be more than friends and although she has feelings for him, Bella’s heart still very much belongs to Edward. To complicate matters further, Jacob is a werewolf who spends his free time hunting vampires. New Moon really is Romeo and Juliet meets West Side Story wrapped in a supernatural candy shell.
This installment has more story, better performances from all involved and more humor, not to mention more action. Twilight’s core group of fans may be young women, but given a chance, New Moon should have no trouble winning over legions of young men as well. The action scenes are done very well and are quite thrilling. The special effects are seamless and I was very impressed with the look of the werewolves.
CGI creatures sometimes look too fake, but the werewolves in New Moon are done really well and have a very realistic quality to them. Director Chris Weitz has truly improved upon Catherine Hardwicke’s original in every way. To be fair, I tend to always enjoy the second installment of a series more than the first. I’ll debate anyone that disagrees that Empire Strikes Back, Spider-Man 2, Superman II and The Dark Knight (just to name a few) aren’t superior to the first films of those series. Of course there are exceptions such as The Matrix Reloaded and the second Pirates of the Caribbean film, but New Moon definitely falls into the former category.
The thing I liked most about New Moon is its use of humor. The first film was a bit too dour for my tastes and I kind of felt like I was trapped in this boring, emotive, Goth world. It is amazing how just a few funny lines can breathe life into a film; even ones that center around a love triangle between a teenage girl, an old vampire and a young stud werewolf. Despite the injection of humor, New Moon is still filled with plenty (if not too much) teenage angst and melodrama.
Just like the Harry Potter cast, all of the actors have grown in their respective roles. No actress is better at emoting teenage angst than Kristen Stewart. She has a “real” quality to her that makes her stand out from most young actresses. She seems like someone you went to high school with. Unfortunately the character is a bit of a downer. It would be nice to see her loosen up a bit. She is so emotionally draining that I almost had to wonder why all of these men are so taken with her. Robert Pattinson is much looser in this film than in the first and as a result gives an all around better performance. I also now understand why Bella is so in love with him. I still don’t understand why every teenage girl in the world thinks he is so handsome.
To me he looks like someone smashed his face in with a shovel, but who am I to judge? The real stand out in the film is Taylor Lautner as Jacob. Despite playing the character in the first film, Lautner almost lost the role in the sequel because the producers felt he was too young to pull off the emotional range of the character. The actor is completely vindicated here, displaying great maturity and strength in the role. I know the big debate among Twilighters is Jacob or Edward and after seeing this film, I fall firmly on the side of team Jacob.
The film is a bit too long. They could’ve cut out quite a few scenes of Bella being depressed. Otherwise, New Moon is a solidly entertaining film that even those who are not die-hard fans of the series can enjoy. After seeing the first one, I had no real interest in seeing the sequel. This time around, I have to admit, I’ll be looking forward to part three. Hell, I might even read the books.