The Twilight Saga: New Moon – Teens and Teeth

twilight-new-moon-poster11The Twilight Saga: New Moon sees vampire wannabe Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) return for a second bite of the Twilight cherry, as ever-thoughtful-looking Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) decides to do a runner in the interests of her safety.

Bella hits 18, and becomes increasingly concerned about the potential age gap that will inevitably exist between her and Edward. He is Bella’s eternally youthful lover and saviour from Twilight, and a morally-astute vampire, with an equally ethical vampiric family (aside from the odd moment of human-bloodlust). Bella repeatedly requests a good chomp on the neck from Edward, so that she can become part of his undead, flying, fang-family.

Naturally, Edward is opposed; he believes that the life of a vampire is a curse, and cannot bring himself to turn Bella, no matter how intensely she desires the twisted transformation. On Bella’s 18th birthday, a slight paper cut to her tender human skin ignites the fire in Edward’s brother, resulting in a minor scrap, and some Matrix-style jumping around.

Whilst Bella is essentially unharmed, Edward believes that their relationship is a danger to her safety. Cue a break-up in a forest (how, er, romantic?), and one devastated teenager. After all the hullaballoo in the first film, Edward bizarrely calls it a day and his family disappear with him to an unknown destination.

Bella becomes a semi-hermit, and wakes up screaming every night. This leads her concerned father to insist she move to Florida to stay with her mum. With Bella not exactly being a Florida-girl, she tries to liven up and get over her sadness in the hope that she can stay. She then discovers that moments of exhilaration and adrenalin cause visions of Edward to appear, telling her not to be reckless. She enjoys her little Eddy peeks, so this acts as a catalyst to her careless behaviour.

Whilst Bella’s emotions are running wild, and she becomes a paradigm of teenage confusion, she starts seeing more of old friend Jacob Black. He has more than a little crush on Bella, and there happens to be a big, bad wolf lurking behind his kind, considerate exterior. Silly Bella, she really has got strange taste (not unlike her bite-happy suitors).

This film is painful to sit through; it is slow, the dialogue is abysmal and the characters are incredibly irritating.

One of the main problems is the fact that we have a film about werewolves and vampires, and there is actually very little of either. Essentially, this is a coming-of-age drama where a girl has to deal with a break-up, and almost falls into the arms of another guy. It feels like the vampire and werewolf mythology is simply used as a gimmick to add gravitas to an otherwise very dull, lifeless and unoriginal story.

As many are aware, New Moon is based on a bestselling book. We can only assume that this book includes several plot and character developments that were excluded from the film.

New Moon struggles severely due to the lack of an antagonist; there is the odd, very tenuous glimpse or mention of Victoria from Twilight, and a brief exchange with super-vamps, the Volturi. This massive flaw leaves New Moon coming across as a long episode of a bad soap opera, with some occasional nibbling and some very large dogs thrown in for good measure.

Another enormous problem is Edward’s vanishing act, which poses a variety of questions and threatens the integrity of the whole storyline. He goes to great lengths to protect Bella in Twilight, and they are apparently madly in love with each other; but Edward knows there is still danger with Victoria wanting revenge, and several other vampires taking a particular interest in sinking some fangs into his human lover.

One minor paper cut later, and Edward thinks the best thing for Bella is his disappearance, which leaves her totally unprotected. He was her bodyguard, and now she is left defenceless against some very aggressive creatures. About ten seconds after he leaves, she is threatened by a vampire. The idea that his character, with over a hundred years of life experience, would not see that coming is preposterous, and insulting to the audience.

This is worsened by Edward’s little break-up speech, containing the words “you will never see me again”. This moment of attempted drama is hugely undermined by his subsequent multitude of hologram-style reappearances.

The cameo from Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon, The Queen, Underworld) is enjoyable, simply because he is an absolutely excellent actor with ability and charisma that actually highlight the pedestrian performances from the majority of his New Moon colleagues.

Kristen Stewart does nothing wrong; she certainly tries to put effort and intensity into the role of Bella, but this hard work is neutralised by such an incredibly awful screenplay. Natalie Portman is an excellent actress, but her turn in Star Wars as Queen Amidala was excruciating to watch because her lines were so painfully dire.

Taylor Lautner is bland as werewolf and potential love interest Jacob Black, whilst Robert Pattinson does more of the same from Twilight as Edward. The latter is particularly annoying for reasons previously discussed, as well as his inability to do more than one facial expression.

Director Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass) manages to apply a very glossy look to an extremely poor end product. A screenplay so lacking in depth, story and character development cannot be saved, so it’s not necessarily Weitz’s fault. The snail-pace of the film would be understandable if anything actually happened, or if the characters and their experiences had any real emotional weight, but this is not the case.

With The Twilight Saga: Eclipse on the horizon, followed by the two-part finale Breaking Dawn, we are keeping our fingers crossed for cloudy skies and minimal visibility.

Image: truthoncinema

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