Sunday, November 20, 2011

TWILIGHT: NEW MOON (2009) - Review

The second in the Twilight saga, "New Moon" picks up from where the previous movie left off. We once again follow Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson), who are now enjoying their otherworldly teenage romance. Bella's a little worried about the way the passing of time will affect their relationship, particularly since Edward will eternally be seventeen, while she will continue to age. The idea pops up and is set aside, as a darker set of events begin to unfold. During a birthday party that the Cullens organize for Bella, she accidentally cuts her finger and one of Edward's brothers tries to bite her, triggering a bit of a family brawl that eventually wounds Bella severely. After the incident, it becomes clear that Bella shouldn't be a part of their vampire lifestyle anymore, so Edward and the Cullens decide to leave town. Bella feels bitter and a little bit suicidal.

She deepens her relationship with her friend, Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). Things get complicated when Bella finds out Jacob's a werewolf. Apparently, it's a really small town. Jacob is part of a tribe of werewolves called Quileute. The Quileute and the Cullens have a truce going on, stating that as long as the vampires stay on their territory, there will be peace. Bella, of course, manages to fall right smack in the middle of this century-old strife, endangering the fragile truce.

Then there's the trouble with Victoria (Rachelle Lefevre), one of the three nomadic vampires who wanted to suck Bella dry in the first movie. Upset about her boyfriend being ripped into pieces by the Cullens, she sets out on a personal vendetta to kill Bella. As for Edward, he's now psychically connected to Bella, popping up whenever she's about to do something stupid, which is pretty often. Ever since Edward left, she's become determined to put herself in harm's way, which eventually sets off a chain reaction of events that spiral out of control.

This is not a high point in the series. On the contrary. It manages to be even more boring than the first one, with even worse dialogue and acting. The love triangle formed here between Bella, Edward and Jacob is only starting to take form now, eventually becoming extremely teadious in the third movie. It feels like reading one of those dime-a-dozen romance novels. The story has no texture, no perceivable depth, no hint of real emotion. The dialogue reminds me of other cheesy romances like Michael Bay's "Pearl Harbor". Almost every line you hear rings hollow. The actors swallow it down and try to work it out convincingly, but the only real acting requirement here is to look sulky and stare with fierce intensity.

The visual effects continue to look unconvincing, especially now that the werewolves come into play. They've got to be the least imaginative werewolves I've ever seen. They're basically just very big dogs, about as tall as a human. That's the best they could do. Of course it's probably Stephenie Meyer's fault. I guess that's how she wrote them. The transformation doesn't take place gradually, like you've seen in werewolf flicks. It happens all of a sudden, like Dracula morphing into a bat, and their clothes get shredded in the process. Well, their shirts do. The pants seem intact when they turn back into humans, much like it happens with "The Hulk" . I guess they get their pants custom made. How else would they survive the sudden expansion of body mass without getting torn ?

Catherine Hardwicke was pulled out of the series and this sequel was directed by Chris Weitz ("American Pie", "About a boy"). Weitz has a background in comedy, but the humor here is mostly unintentional. The story gets out of his hands as the plot progresses, wandering into the realm of absurdity. It also doesn't help that the plot moves at the pace of a sleepwalking zombie. No one, other than a die-hard fan, could enjoy this awkward mess.

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