Lara’s Review of Twilight: New Moon

25 Nov

I’m not ashamed to say I saw New Moon on its opening day. I love taking part of any cultural phenomenon, be it good (i.e. Star Wars midnight showings) or bad (i.e. High School Musical 3 in the theater)—so I was definitely not going to turn down the opportunity to be surrounded by teenage girls and their crazy mothers as they prematurely swoon over mystical creatures. And boy, am I glad I didn’t, because seeing The Twilight Saga: New Moon on opening night in New York City was an experience unlike any other I’ve ever had.

Twilight New Moon

First let me give you a recap in case you haven’t seen or you’ve forgotten what happened in the first installment, Twilight. Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) is an “alternative,” seventeen-year-old girl who moves to Forks, Washington to live with her father after her mother remarries. Despite her rude demeanor, which is somehow mistaken by others as awkwardness rather than what it really is; bitchiness, she manages to make some super obnoxious friends at her new high school. Of course peppering their information with witty remarks and side-character banter, the high school friends fill her in on the Cullen siblings, an exceedingly beautiful family who speak to no one else and date within their own family unit. Bella is intrigued. Here follows about an hour of Bella and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) staring at each other, and him alternating from being kind to her to telling her he doesn’t want to see her again. After much confusion and awkward glances, Bella figures out that Edward is a vampire! He confirms her suspicions by stepping into the sun, which, unlike in most vampire lore, doesn’t destroy him but makes him sparkle like a giant, manly diamond. He tells her that he doesn’t drink the blood of humans, only that of animals, but she has the most tempting and beautiful bloody smell of any human he’s ever met. Bella ignores the threat on her life (because look at how sexy he is!) and the two begin to date. They do the regular dating things (but with an exciting vampire twist) until one day a tracker vampire sees her and suddenly the plot changes swiftly and she has to run away or else he will kill her and all of her family.

Wow. I didn’t know there was that much to be said about that movie. And I’m not even done. Because what makes the first installment so wonderfully bad, I mean, besides the general plot, is the atmosphere. The editing is awkward, the contrast exposure of the film looks as though it’s almost black and white, the cinematography is over-dramatic and unnecessary, and most of the plot is Edward and Bella exchanging longing glances at one another. It seems as though director Catherine Hardwicke, whose works such as thirteen and Lords of Dogtown I genuinely like and regard as solid films, tried to make an art film out of a tween drama. She completely failed. The hand-held cinematography that she used on thirteen does not at all translate to this film. It is completely contrived and clumsy and embarrassing to watch. And the melodramatic, unrequited love between a human and a magical being gives the movie the feeling of a glamorized WB pilot episode.

Edward takes Bella for a ride in Twilight.

Now on to New Moon. Bella turns eighteen and doesn’t want any birthday party (of course! Because she’s so alternative!) Edward throws her one anyhow, inviting her over to his family of vampires’ house. When unwrapping a present, Bella gets a paper cut and produces one single drop of blood. Edward, out of fear that one of his siblings will try to eat her, “protects” Bella by throwing her into against a glass table. Surprisingly enough, she bleeds even more and one of his brothers tries to kill her. Edward then breaks up with Bella telling her that he doesn’t want to put her in danger—never admitting the fact that his abusive and controlling ways cause her much more harm than the blood-sucking tendencies of his family members. Edward disappears and Bella mourns.  (Spoilers from here on out). Then Bella begins to hang out with her younger friend, Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who, she finds out through a series of events, is a werewolf! And, apparently, one of the side effects of being a werewolf is that he has to have his shirt off. All of the time. Flirting ensues and then, somehow, Edward thinks Bella is dead so he decides he has to go to Italy to see the Volturi (powerful vampires, who, despite their Italian nationality have English accents), so that they will kill him. Bella runs to Italy and finds him just in time to stop him from being killed. Dakota Fanning is there for God knows what reason. Bella and Edward go back to Washington, he’s decided he can be around her again, so she breaks up with Jacob. The end.

While this was a fun installment in the saga, it continues the unhealthy representation of relationships that the first produced. Edward is a vampire who might turn on Bella and kill her at any moment, and that turns the both of them on. His bite is a not-so-subtle symbol for sex, if he bites her and makes her one of his own, he is spoiling her, and so he won’t do it until they are married. This, in addition to his entire character, gives him complete control in the relationship. She has absolutely no say in whether they are together or not, whether he leaves or stays, whether she can be bitten or has to stay human. When he follows his bipolar tendencies at the start of New Moon and leaves her yet again, there is light for Bella at the end of the tunnel. Jacob is a really nice guy who encourages Bella to be herself. The only thing is that Jacob is a werewolf and warns her that if she ever makes him angry he will attack her, leaving her with anything from a scar to an early deathbed. Not too good for Bella again. Watching these relationships unfold is okay as a complete outsider who knows better, but the scary thing is how many young girls are reading and watching and therefore being influenced by these books and movies.

Jacob (shirtless– who would have thought?!)

Our audience for this film, however, was not as tween girl filled as I had thought it would be. Sure they made up most of the audience, giggling before the movie and taking pictures of themselves in their seats, but there were a surprising amount of older people there as well. Older women were whooping along with the twelve year old girls whenever seventeen-year-old Taylor Lautner had his shirt off. And there was one woman across the aisle from us who kept moaning any time he and Bella got near each other. It very easily could have been creepy, but it was hilarious. And the atmosphere in the theater was amazing. I’m pretty sure 99% of the audience members were “Team Jacob” because every time he was on scream girls and women alike screamed, and whenever Edward showed up he was met with booing and hissing. And other members joined my group of friends whenever we laughed at the over-dramatic moments. It definitely wasn’t the crowd to see it with if you were either A) Taking the movie seriously, or, B) A member of “Team Edward,” but it was great for me, who wasn’t in either of those categories.

Right from the beginning it was apparent that New Moon was in the hands of a different director. Chris Wietz, whose previous films include About a Boy and The Golden Compass, created a light-hearted and conventional tone for the sequel. And though it makes for a technically better movie, I didn’t like it near as much. Part of what makes the first movie so enjoyable is how terrible it is in every way: it’s exaggerated, has terrible cinematography, and it is unconscious of those things. The most hilarious parts are the scenes that attempt to be the most dramatic.  New Moon, however, is intentionally funny. There’s even a line where Bella’s friend is talking about a zombie movie that has too much symbolism, and remarks on the self-referential nature of the movie. So it’s a self-reference to self-referential zombie movies, which results in much too much self-referencing for me. However the movie was enjoyable and had its share of cheesy moments, so, while lacking in over all horridness, it was a good chapter in the franchise. I am not going to say whether you should or should not see this movie. Honestly not everyone is going to take pleasure in the movies as I do, and people who take it seriously make me kind of sad, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. See it for a laugh- but make sure you know your audience first.

I’m team (enter name of abusive boyfriend here),
Lara

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5 Responses to “Lara’s Review of Twilight: New Moon”

  1. Canada Chris November 25, 2009 at 5:09 pm #

    ok, here’s the thing that creeped me out about the first movie: edward is supposed to be like 100+ years old, right?

    well imagine a teen romance where a 17 year old falls in love with a 100 year old man who actually looks his age. wait, forget that. pretend he’s 80…or even 60. how fucking creepy would that be?!?! bella and someone’s grandpa going emo all over each other.

    i mean, that is essentially the story of twilight! the only reason it works is cuz he LOOKS 17. but he’s not 17. he’s over 100. that means he has the knowledge and experience of someone OVER ONE HUNDRED YEARS OLD. and yet he’s lusting after some high school chick! ok ok, i know they said that she’s special and different and blah blah blah, but still. i maintain that if edward actually looked his age the whole scenario would be deemed inappropriate (as it well should be!)

    • cintussupremus December 2, 2009 at 9:20 pm #

      You’re completely right. This movie is like the exact opposite of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. In Benjamin’s curious case everyone obsessed over his backwards aging even though it was mostly just a physical disability. He LOOKED old, but everything about his mental and emotional development was the same as any other person’s. In Twilight’s curious case, Edward has the mind and experiences of someone over a hundred years old but since he looks young and pretty NO ONE SAYS ANYTHING. Which is why both of those movies suck.

  2. Kristin W. November 26, 2009 at 7:00 am #

    Lara, I LOVED this review. Pure genius, hilarious all the way through, and extremely accurate. When I was working at Borders I read the first novel because I was curious, and if you thought the first movie was terrible, do not EVER read the novel. I got through the first 150 or 200 pages before I got tired of all the descriptions of how gorgeous Edward is.

    I think this movie and film have a very narrow target audience for whom it is appropriate, topic wise, and age appropriate as well.

    While working in my bookstore last year, I found it very odd that anyone over the age of *maybe* 22 would read this book for entertainment. After I decided to read it to see what the fuss was about, I saw the movie as well to see how it captured the book. The book is pretty repetitive and poorly written by any measure of literary merit. Furthermore, the fact that Bella is amused by Edward’s ability to hurt her, and his potential to possibly end her life, is disturbing to me as it is to you…I don’t think that’s a positive message for any woman, anywhere — regardless of whether the book is fiction or non-fiction.

    The scary thing to me is that this series was written for teen girls. I agree that it’s appropriate for younger girls–insofar as the young girls who are reading it will probably appreciate it the most. However, as far as it being morally appropriate for young girls? There are some pretty explicit moments of sexuality in both the book and the movie, which I don’t find to be very appropriate for *anyone* under 18. As you mentioned, Bella essentially is obsessed with Edward, which younger girls are wont to do, anyway. I’m not sure why such a book would be beneficial to a young girl, as it only serves to encourage that behavior. Not to mention the threat of abuse and heavy control issues you mentioned that are present in New Moon.

    As far as adults reading these books and finding them entertaining, I find that odd as well, because of the fact that Edward is physically a 17-year-old boy and mentally a 108-year-old man. Why people find that attractive is anyone’s guess, but I certainly don’t. If anything, it adds to the creepy overtones of the book.

    Besides all of this, the novel and the film basically derail most known aspects of vampire mythology. Anyone who is legitimately “into” vampire literature and stories would hate Twilight, since it debunks the most important aspects of those myths.

  3. Charlie Bucket November 26, 2009 at 10:30 am #

    wow. I didn’t see the first or this one, but I loved this review. you’re foxy.

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