Wednesday, December 02, 2009

FILM REVIEW: The Twilight Saga: New Moon - Pros & Cons

I saw New Moon before Thanksgiving, and considering that a majority of the planet had already seen it, giving it an incredible opening weekend, I figured a review wasn't really necessary. But I was curious to see if everyone agreed that Chris Weitz's remodel was not only warranted, but successful. Here are the pros and cons of his incarnation:

Kristen Stewart's Acting: We're stuck in Bella's head a lot in the second book, and if you don't even like Bella, that can be kind of annoying to watch for 2hrs. But I think—after getting "constructive" criticism from millions of people, including spoof comedians, who found her hair-fluffing, overzealous panting, and lip-biting annoying—that Stewart successfully toned down the melodramatic acting. That's especially impressive since Bella needed to convincingly lose her marbles for the first half of the film. Perhaps you didn't agree with how she handled the rejection, but you definitely bought it.

Taylor Lautner's Transformation: In the first film, we witness two people fall in love and form an unbreakable bond. Lautner had the daunting task of convincing non-readers that Jacob's affections for Bella were not only warranted, but were worthy of being reciprocated. I think the series of false-starts—from the post-movie declaration of affections to the pre-Volturi near-kiss—provided the perfect amount of sexual tension to represent his unrequited love. While reading, I got the feeling that Bella was sort of stringing Jacob along until Edward returned. He was her temporary fix until she could get her hands on a more potent drug. Watching the film made that even more obvious as we got to see her use him to build a dangerous means to summon the Edward-phantom that would warn her against recklessness. You were either on Team Edward, hoping she'd use Jacob more, or on Team Jacob, wishing he'd see right through her manipulation (or that she'd see he was the better choice). I actually I listened to the second book on tape, and listening to Jacob whine about his affections for Bella was soooo annoying. But watching it and seeing his desperation and longing for her, really convinced me of his affections. I don't know if it was the added muscles or his deep, dark eyes, but Taylor did a great job of expressing exactly the kind of protective and passionate character that Jacob was written to be.

Cinematography: It was incredible, from the simple scenes in the woods to the suspenseful drowning scene to the slow-motion, red-cloaks square rescue. Whereas the first film introduced you to the vampires with gray tones, this film introduced us to the wolves with warm tones, bringing a town that is inhabited by the undead to life.

Emily's Scarring: I was really concerned about the CGI, in regards to the wolves, but I completely forgot about Emily's face. The wolves looked great. I expected something a little less normal-looking, but they were very well-designed. It wasn't until I realized they were going to introduce Sam's fiancee that I remembered she was supposed to represent a cautionary-tale for Bella if she should ever consider being with Jacob. I imagined her scars to be deep and jarring enough to give you pause, but I was glad half her face wasn't gone. Her scars are deep enough for you to understand why Sam feels so remorseful all the time, but not so deep that they're distracting. Well done.

The Volturi Showdown: Oh I can't wait for the battles to begin in the upcoming films! Jane (Dakota Fanning) and Alec (Cameron Bright) were so convincingly evil in this film that I'm excited for their future encounters with the Cullen's. And just as a side note on the book itself, after seeing the fight in the Volturi lair, I realized how illogical it was for Emmett not to have gone with Alice. Especially, since she just stood there in a chokehold. I mean, maybe she saw the future was peachy, but most of those body-slams could've been avoided.

Slow-Motion Fight Scenes: I'm not sure if Chris Weitz is big on slow motion or if he thinks it adds to the suspense, but either way I'm happy he used it during the wolf hunts. I hate when I can never actually see a fight happen. It could've all just looked like a whirlwind of red hair and brown fur, so I'm glad they slowed it down so we could actually see the wolves accost Laurent and nearly catch Victoria. It kind of looked like a violent ballet.

The Marble Gods: One of the coolest parts about watching a book you've already read is being reminded of cool things you forgot. Stephenie Meyer's vampires are like porcelain dolls. They crack like marble. So cool to actually see that illustrated when Edward's head was slammed into the ground.

Mike aka Bella's Human Stalker: I hate that putz Mik, but he had me dying laughing in this film. It wasn't anything he said. I just didn't realize that his spaztastic puke session would be that amusing to watch. But maybe it was more so because he was trying to brush Jacob off and have a date with Bella, even going so far as to ask if he was old enough to see an R-rated film. lol He wasn't. Priceless.

Jacob's Hair: Give a raise to whoever upgraded Jacob's wig from $2-hooker to Rodeo Drive-quality. Very much appreciated.

Bella's Dad Charlie: Fantastic job with the father-daughter relationship. It was the right amount of awkwardness, teasing, and reprimands.

Minimal Gore: Also, I'd like to high-five whoever decided not to show the tourists getting slaughtered in the Volturi lair, especially after showing us that there were two children among them.

The Volturi Trio: I was really afraid James was going to be a joke in the last film, and he turned out to be surprisingly terrifying. Aro (Michael Sheen), however, sort of behaved like Mr. Burns from "The Simpsons." Sure, Mr. Burns is creepy and kind of gross, but he doesn't scare me. I guess Aro isn't really that terrifying in the books, but I didn't expect him to be...weird. And as for his two associates, they seemed kind of ill and bored by the humans, when I thought they were supposed to be angered and intimidating. Was that just me?

• Revealing the Powers: I almost forgot that werewolves block Alice's power. While I'm glad they touched on that a bit, I wish they would've emphasized it more for the non-readers. My friend totally didn't get that Alice wasn't just repulsed by the werewolf smell and his overall presence, and that it was actually a legitimate hindrance to be around him. I hope in the future they'll be a little bit more verbal about what all the other vamps can do. Oh and I hope they emphasize how bonded the wolves are mentally.

Werewolf Smell: I thought Alice would be a little more repulsed than she was. It looked like she just smelled a rotten egg or bad milk, not like she was ready to gag. Maybe the repetition of it in the book made it seem like it was worse than it actually was.

Alice and Bella's Friendship: I know, and the readers know, that Bella and Alice are besties, but moviegoers don't. For them, I feel like the die-hard friendship, complete with numerous unreceived emails and a post-suicide-attempt visit, came out of left field. But I guess more time has to be spent on the romances and not the friendships.

Bella's Attraction towards Edward: In my review of the first one, I expressed disappointment of how they didn't show how solid his skin was and how he was supposed to restrain her for every kiss. While they did do both this time, they didn't really explain why he was restraining her or why the bday present she wanted was a kiss. It makes sense for him to be craving her, but there was no explanation as to why she would be craving him. It's not like he's Dracula. He isn't seducing her. So they should've thrown in a quick line about self-control or something.

Glitter Effect: The stripper skin remained. What are you going to do right? Gotta keep it consistent.

It's difficult to determine whether Chris Weitz did a better job than Catherine Hardwicke, since he had a bigger budget, more support from the studio, and the benefit of learning from her mistakes. But considering the visual quality of the films that both have produced in the past, I doubt she could've created a more beautifully illustrated, epic love triangle than him. But that's just me. What do you think?


  1. Hello,
    I'm a Franch fan of Stefenie Meyer's books (that I discovered after having seen the first movie in the cinema in January 2009. Then, I have read the four books (I liked them very much) and have seen New Moon twice in the cinema in the French version. (I do precise I am French because I might have misunderstood what you wrote...)

    I have read your review, which was very interseting (it's the best and the most complete I have read, bravo :D)
    I agree with you on almost all the points but I partially disagree...
    Let me explain my opinion to you.

    Pros :

    - I also liked Kristen Stewart's acting when she plays Bella who is supposed to be sorrowful and desperate after Edward's flee. Her eyes and her empty look, her screms when she sleeps, the way she looks and she is dressed when she goes to school, everything. I found it good.

    - I liked Taylor Launter's acting too, for the same reasons as you.
    But I think he is too well-built, too muscular compared to the other werewolves, he is even stronger than Sam ! That's strange, and it is obvious taht some scene have been added only to please teenage girls who love muscular boys...
    For instance when he is taking his T-shirt off in front of Bella...

    - I think tant Robert Pattinson's acting is excellent too. In this movie, we do see that he is struggling not to hurt Bella, we can notice it's hard for him to kiss her. I think I might be difficult to shoot only small scene in which he was saying only one word...

    - What's more I loved the break scene between Bella and Edward (that's my favorite scene), I loved the music, and all ! Great.

    - I liked the slow-motion effect in the fights too. I agree with you. I found the battles were magnificent. Special effects are prefect.

    - Nevertheless, I disagree with you for the topic entitled "The marbled Gods". I thought that the breaks on Edward's face when he is hit by the other vampires were ridiculous. And the way it disappeared just a few second after... I did not like it.

    Cons :

    - I did not really realized Aro was strange on my own, but after having read your commentary I think you're right, Aro looks like Mr. Burns ! :D I laughed when I saw Marcus and his voice in the French version is hilarious, he sounds like the old worn King in the Lord of the Ring. Funny.

    - I agree with your other points (the smell repulsion, Bella and Alice's friendship,...)

    - I was also disappointed with some scenes. I got the feeling that he became "cucu" (french word : it means it's a ridiculous love story) while it was romantic in the first film.
    Some lines were ridiculous, for example when Jacob says to Bella that he wants to protect her and he cannot stay with her... Not such a good scene.

    The vision of Alice when she sees Bella and Edward running in the flower field, this is ridiculous. It looks like a famous French TV ad for dogs' croquettes... We laughed a lot with friends of mine because of this scene !

    - Finally, I was disappointed by the fact that Bella almost kissed Jacob. Because, Jacob doesn't try to kiss her in the book even if he wants to. And even in the third book, when he does kiss her, she repulses him with all her strenght and hits him !

    But in general, I loved the film (above all when I saw him the second time)



    PS : I watched the film the 18th november because in France movies are going in cinemas on wednesdays ! :p
    PS : Sorry for the mistakes...


  2. Hey Clemence,
    lol you're right, the other wolves aren't as muscular and that is an inconsistency, but I don't think the producers expected Lautner to be so determined that he'd gain 30 pounds of muscle. lol But at least they were an improvement on the Native Americans from the first film.

    I love your French references. lol The dog ads thing--I didn't think about it, but you're right, it did look kind of ridiculous. But I think they did scenes like that and the cracked face because they were trying to make it seem supernatural.

    Oooh and I'm glad you brought up the kiss. I haven't read the books in a while, but I was pretty sure he never kissed her in the 2nd book. But I guess that explains why he didn't actually get to do it. They squeezed it in just as a tease. Those jerks. ;)

    P.S. Thanks for sharing your pros and cons. I love comparing notes.

  3. :D

    Actually I think that Taylor Launter is so muscular because he is one of the main characters and as Edward was gone for a while they needed him to replace Robert Pattison as THE handsome man of the film...

    There are two or three things I did not understand when I read your commentary :S
    Could you tell me what's CGI (you mentioned it when you wrote about Emily) ?
    And what's an R-Rated film ?
    I'm asking that because I try to improve in English and every words are good to learn !

    Does your name "Monica Perry" have a link with the series FRIENDS or it's just a coincidence ?


  4. Did Launter really take 30 pounds of muscle ? That's huge !!!!

  5. Actually, it's Clémence ! :) again...

  6. CGI stands for computer-generated imagery, which means that they used computers to create the scar on Emily's face, and also to create the wolves. An R-rated film means that you need to be 17 or older to watch a movie in the movie theater. New Moon is PG-13, which means that parental guidance is suggested to watch a movie if you are younger than 13. Je parle un peu français. Je suis pas bon à parler français. Pardon mon français. Et j'adore les twilight livres! Haha well that's my french for you!

    Au revoir!

  7. Sorry Clémence, I must've forgotten to respond. Thanks to the Anonymous person who answered.

    And to your last question, I was named after Saint Monica. If I were named after "Friends," I'd have to be 16, which I guess isn't too hard to believe considering the topic. lol I'm actually 24.