STARRING: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Kellan Lutz, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Edi Gathegi, Rachelle Lafevre, Billy Burke, Charlie Bewley, Jamie Campbell Bower, Daniel Cudmore, Christopher Heyerdahl, Dakota Fanning, Cameron Bright, Noot Seer, Michael Sheen, Graham Greene, Tinsel Korey

2009, 130 Minutes, Directed by:
Chris Weitz

Watching Twilight Saga: New Moon is a bit like having your own real-life sulky teenager living under your roof . . .

As you might gather from the above description, New Moon isn’t particularly fun. Like a real angsty teenager the movie is oh-so serious and humorless (expect for one scene involving a Triple Date from Hell which boasted some lame attempts at obvious humor). There is so much teenage angst piling up in New Moon that you need a jetpack to stay above it all!

This is still one of the silliest movie franchises out there and one which is totally critic proof. People will still go see it even if there are verifiable reports that watching it makes your eyes bleed. New Moon will make a killing at the box office and maybe I would have liked it if I were several years younger and didn’t have a penis. But unlike the Harry Potter movies, the so-called Twilight Saga has very little to offer anyone outside the franchise’s core target demographic, namely hormonally imbalanced teenager girls in this case. Like Mamma Mia! men who get dragged into cinemas to see it by their wives and girlfriends will be nonplussed as to the movie’s appeal. (Hint: it’s all about actor Robert Pattinson.)

New Moon kicks off where the previous movie ended: Bella (Kristen Stewart) is still dating Edward Cullen (Pattinson), the hundredsomethinger vampire trapped in a hunky teenager body. Their relationship is of course an impossibility because of the age difference. Bella will grow older while Edward will pull a Dorian Gray and have the same pinupable face that made the first movie so huge. Then Bella will find out what it is like to be Demi Moore and constantly date younger men.

The other problem is that Edward is a vampire. One that, er, sparkles in the sunlight sure, but for him it is a bit like dating his food. He might as well be dating a slice of salami, or a pepperoni pizza. (No American Pie jokes please; that movie may also be directed by Chris Weitz, but that’s disgusting, okay?) The obvious solution for Bella is to either (a) move on, or (b) become a vampire herself - something which Edward is unwilling to do.

Of course the whole “becoming a vampire” thing is an in-your-face metaphor for “Bella losing her virginity.” This makes the two Twilight movies the two most painful movies about a chick wanting to pop her cherry audiences have ever been made to sit through in the history of cinema. Edward’s sister wants to “do it” for Bella, but Bella says no, she wants Edward to “do it”. Edward says no, they should wait a bit longer, which is definite proof that he isn’t really a teenager boy.

(Don’t buy the virginity metaphor thing? Consider the following: author Stephanie Meyer belongs to the religiously conservative Mormon group. The books are huge with 14-year-old girls. The biggest issue for 14-year-old girls are when, and with whom, they are going to lose her virginity. The rest of us know that losing one’s virginity is probably the most underwhelming five minutes in one’s entire life.)

"So much homoerotic subtext that it makes those locker room scenes in Top Gun look positively wholesome!"

After one of Edward’s eccentric family members tries to, er, “eat” Bella at a birthday party Edward decides that it is probably best that they all pack up and leave town. Yup, Bella gets dumped. Now, Robert Pattinson may be this century’s Leonardo diCaprio and every tween out there has a poster of him, but most of us just get over failed teenaged relationships within a few months – three, tops. Not Bella. Edward’s departure is her cue to endlessly sit in her room all day and feel sorry for herself, as if she wasn’t morose and glum enough to start with!

Enter Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) who has spent a lot – and we mean a LOT - of time in the gym in-between movies. “Wow,” says Bella. “You’re really buff, Jacob. What are you, like, sixteen?” Actual dialogue, folks. The athletic and life-loving Jacob decides that what he needs is a miserable, spirit-crushing girlfriend who sucks the very life from the room she is in like a veritable black hole.

Jacob is the resident beefcake. Like Kirk in the original Star Trek he uses every lame excuse to take off his shirt to show off his buff new physique. One scene in which he takes off his shirt to wipe some blood from Bella’s forehead had the audience I was in laughing out aloud. Sometimes Jacob doesn’t even need an excuse to take off his shirt and walks around in only a pair of underwear in the pouring rain in any case.

Jacob is running with wolves you see. He’s hanging around with some equally buffed Calvin Klein ad types in the woods, all of which has so much homoerotic subtext to it that it makes those locker room scenes in Top Gun look positively wholesome in comparison. Jacob is also, yup, a werewolf. (We’re not giving anything away here. New Moon’s biggest problem is its marketing. The trailers give away most of the plot, which just leaves the audience to tiredly sit in their seats and connect all the various dots.)

But these werewolves do not have to wait for the next full moon and can practically transform at will. Oh, and they don’t kill people. They just hunt vampires. Yup, New Moon is more of the same, and if you think that dreamy vampires that glitter and vampires playing baseball were ridiculous, then wait till you get a load of New Moon. In addition to the underwear models masquerading as werewolves, we also have a vampire council called the Volturi (which sounds like a suppository to be honest) consisting of some rather poncy types who sit on their thrones all day long in Italy somewhere.

Anyway, to fast-forward here (you’d wish the movie had a fast-forward button): a love triangle develops with Jacob and Edward wanting the same girl (Bella). Why is a bit of a mystery as Bella just sits around most of the movie whining and moping. While one shouldn’t make fun of teenage crushes that go wrong – after all, they are painfully real at the time – one never buys Bella and Edward’s relationship. Both of them simply come across as shallow. There is no reason why they should be dating except that Edward is, like, really dreamy and the screenplay requires it. It just never convinces and because three-quarters of the movie is about Bella brooding and pouting it is really like having an insufferable teenager living under one’s roof! One simply wants to shake Bella by the shoulders to god damn snap out of it as the movie drags on and on with no clear end in sight.

In fact the only sympathetic character in sight is Bella’s dad (Billy Burke, here relegated to an even more thankless role than in the previous movie) who clearly loves his daughter but has to put up with all this shit. Poor guy.

More than three-quarters into the movie a plot of sorts finally kicks in.

Edward can’t take being separated from his sulky girlfriend anymore and hanging around in exotic locales like Rio de Janeiro, so he wants to commit suicide instead. Thus he travels to Rome where he asks the Volturi to kill him. The Volturi, no doubt afraid of getting blood on their poncy outfits, refuses. So Edward decides to break a vampire law and, er, reveal himself to the humans. (All of this is in the trailer too.) So Bella has to travel to Rome to stop Edward from making a public spectacle of himself (see? it’s already beginning to sound like a real marriage).

The whole Volturi subplot is so anticlimactic that it feels almost like an afterthought. As if the writers decided that “dudes, nothing’s happening here except for that chick sitting in her room all day feeling sorry for herself. We better do something now!” But it’s too little, too late. New Moon is dead dull for the simple reason that we are not emotionally invested in Bella and Edward as a couple. In fact one wishes that someone would prescribe some Prozac for Bella and get it all over and done with. (And why travel all the way to Italy to commit suicide in any case? Why not just make some derogatory remarks about werepenis sizes to Jacob and his crowd’s face?)

Clocking in at 130 minutes New Moon has more teenage angst that any reasonable adult should be allowed to endure.

The problem is the source material. A horror movie with no blood in it? A romance with no sex it in it? It’s as if Ned Flanders tried his hand at writing a bestseller. No-one over the age of sixteen should take any of this stuff seriously. The problem is however that the movie never transcends the material at hand. The previous film had some nice scenery shots, but New Moon is about as visually appealing as dishwater. The movie looks flat and dull.

The special effects are awful too. Not just those crummy-looking werewolves, but check out those CG scenes of people jumping off a cliff. Really lousy, and it made us miss the days in which they had real stuntmen jump off real cliffs. Sigh. With such cheap special effects one has to wonder what they spent the rumored $90 million budget on. (Probably gym memberships for the cast.)

So in short: New Moon is silly, overlong, too serious and humorless with some bad acting (the closing scene in which actress Stewart literally gasped elicited loads of unintentional chuckles). It is simply too long and drags on forever. In some ways the movie’s most corny moments (check out Bella and Edward jogging in the woods in slow-motion!) are hilariously funny, which makes it this year’s funniest movie in many ways. But then again, it’s not supposed to be a comedy.



blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest Headlines

Most Popular

Copyright © 1997-forward James O'Ehley/The Sci-Fi Movie Page (unless where indicated otherwise).