Movie theaters opened their doors to crowds of Twilight fans more than six hours in advance of the midnight premiere of New Moon. By 10 o’clock, few seats remained for latecomers and theater staff refused to let patrons save seats for friends still on the way, saying they were late. After hours of considerable friction between staff and audience members, lights dimmed and cheers of excitement boomed through the cavernous room.
Whether the movie delivered cheering fans more than special effects and hype is still in the air.
I must confess, I was unprepared for the atmosphere. We attended the midnight premiere of Twilight in 2009 and it wasn’t even close. New Moon was beyond packed. Even though theater staff pushed the audience around in the hours leading up to the movie, they did nothing to stop the annoying red blur on the screen caused by someone’s laser pointer. In fact, they cared only about selling movie shirts, taking pizza orders and packing people into the seats.
From last year, I knew to expect unruly teens hooting and hollering over every kiss (or almost kiss) in the movie. I knew to expect screams of joy when Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) first came on the screen. I even deduced fangirls would lose their minds the moment Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) took off his shirt. I just wasn’t expecting gratuitous make-out scenes between Edward and Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) to fuel the crazed behavior.
But let’s get onto the movie itself. There were problems.
The first issue with New Moon is the break up scene. There was a severe lack of emotion between the characters. I suppose I can understand Edward’s stoicism in the scene because he was lying through his fangs, but Bella? Was the moment too surreal for her to comprehend? Was this the moment she’d been waiting for since she first got a hot vampire boyfriend? Regardless, I found her lack of reaction unbelievable. Teen girls react worse when their boyfriend of two weeks dumps them, yet Bella had little reaction to losing a character we’re meant to believe is her soul mate?
In the New Moon book, the following chapters contain only the name of the month to express the depths of her depression over losing him. In a book filled with awkward writing and plot problems, those chapters spoke to me. Those chapters ripped my heart out, put it back in, then ripped it out once more for kicks. I believe those few pages conveyed more emotion than the following hundred pages of whining and moping.
What did the movie version do? Well, apparently we’re suddenly watching Bad Boys because the camera spun around Bella while she sat in her room, staring out the window at the bustling life around her. We still got the month names on the screen in case we needed a focal point to keep from getting dizzy, but the scene was flat. Emotionless. Dead. If that was the goal, congratulations go to the director for killing what should have been a heart-wrenching scene.
New Moon also gives us Ghost Edward. Rather than hearing his voice in her head as she does dangerous things, we actually see a translucent image of the vampire. While I understand the necessity to have him there while he’s talking to avoid dual voiceovers, the special effects don’t deliver. They could achieve the same thing by letting a solid figure of Edward be there and vanish in an instant. Apparently, the tech guys won the coin toss on that one.
The Volturi scenes were another issue. New Moon had the opportunity to demonstrate the full power and stature of these ancient vampires. Instead, we got a look at three bored vampires with a few favorite henchmen to provide amusement and gather snacks. Considering they were in the heart of Italian culture, I expected a better indoor set.
New Moon continued to disappoint fans right up until the final scene. Fans of the book already knew Edward would make marriage a condition of turning Bella into a vampire. They also knew she wouldn’t answer until sometime in Eclipse (scheduled for release May or June 2010). The movie ended with Edward saying, “Marry me” and cutting back to Bella’s face just before going to a black screen. Although everyone knew she wouldn’t answer yet, sounds of disappointment echoed long after the beginning of the credits.
Did New Moon get anything right?
A few aspects of the movie were well-executed. The scene where Bella cuts her finger was one. Jasper’s reaction to that single drop of her exposed blood…perfect. Being so close to the start of the movie, that scene promised quality the rest of the movie simply couldn’t deliver.
I also liked the werewolf scenes, even though they weren’t among my favorites in the book. Special effects were dead on for Jacob’s “phasing” into the rust-colored wolf. In this case, I finally got just how massive they were. I didn’t get that from the book.
Robert Pattinson did an excellent job of expressing Edward’s grief when he thought Bella died. Unlike scenes void of emotional content, I could feel his level of pain. It was a bright spot after so much stilted dialogue between flat characters.
While New Moon’s version of the Volturi was lacking, Dakota Fanning in the role of Jane was a stroke of brilliance. I knew she’d be good when I heard they cast her for it, but actually seeing it was a treat. I’d like to see her play the part again. Of course, I’d also like to see the current actress playing bad vampire Victoria again, but they replaced her in Eclipse. Pity…especially since her hair was finally as red as the book described.
Pacing was much better in the movie than the book. I almost didn’t go because New Moon wasn’t my favorite book. The idea of watching Bella mope and cry for the movie equivalent of hundreds of pages was unappealing to me. Perhaps it was only due to time constraints, but her whine time didn’t last long.
Overall, New Moon wasn’t the worst paranormal movie I’ve seen, but it didn’t live up to the level of hype it received. Even excluding the hyperactive teenage girls in love with Edward Cullen screaming every five minutes, the movie is a B+ at best. Apparently, not even the international Twilight phenomenon can break the sub-par sequel curse. One can only hope the next installment brings more to the table.