Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)

New Moon was one of 2009’s biggest Box Office blockbusters, earning billions of dollars worldwide by wowing desperate teenage girls with chiseled men’s abs and coifed James Dean hair. To the Twi-hards (dedicated fans of the Twilight book series that’s managed to prove young people do indeed still sometimes read books) looking for their over-emoting romance fix, this sequel is exactly what the doctor ordered. But most anybody outside the Tigerbeat target audience - and undoubtedly even a few within - recognize this sloppy, unenthused piece of junk for exactly what it is.
Lacking plot, substance or any non-financial reason for existence, New Moon is, like most sequels, a bloated and uninspired version of its predecessor. Except whereas most sequels overcompensate with bigger action, desperate plots and higher stakes, New Moon essentially removes those aspects of filmmaking altogether and settles for two-plus hours of meandering moping. It lacks story, and reasoning. There are no true character arcs, no real consequences, and only the lowest or briefest of stakes. And forget the action the trailers hinted at – there are merely moments of physical intensity, prolonged via slow-mo by director Chris Weitz to make it seem as if, for even a second, there is actually something happening.

New Moon is a movie about vampires and werewolves – monsters. Yet there is rarely even the hint of threat to human life. And when there is, there is only that - the hint, the tease, without any follow through. No, the dramatics of life and death in New Moon are reserved solely for the battles of the teenage heart, and the end-of-the-world consequences the Twilight series so successfully elicits for that territory.

The melodrama starts when vampire heartthrob Edward flees town, hoping to protect his love Bella from the eternal damnation that surrounds him, but simply breaking her heart in the process. Bella pouts, for months, made comatose by her boyfriend’s decision. She cries out in pain at night, dies slowly by day.

Then the werewolf comes to the rescue, tending to her wounds by removing his shirt and displaying his washboard abs. How can any girl resist his muscles and charm?

Oh, but Bella musn’t. She’s damaged, ruined for life by her boyfriend’s departure. Dead at the age of 17. She pouts. He poses. She keeps the werepuppy at arm’s reach as he wines to get closer.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world slips by. School? What’s that? The dilemma of a normal girl?

Classmates? How can she stand them? They don’t have any superpowers!

Then an evil vampire shows up. Could this be trouble? Nope. He’s gone. Oh and that other evil vampire looking to avenge her boyfriend’s death? She’s just gonna keep her distance and watch. How can she compete with the violence of the heart?

Almost nothing happens in New Moon. 130 minutes of posturing and moping. But then again, is that what the audience is looking for? Is it any surprise that Bella is such a powerless, disposable wimp? Maybe Kristen Stewart (so good in Adventureland) isn’t SUPPOSED to give her character. Maybe she’s meant to play Bella as a mannequin, a stand-in for teenage girls everywhere. All the easier to imagine THEMSELVES across from the washboard abs, or the James Dean hair. All the pretty, love-sick boys desperate for their attention. The fantasy, un-inhibited by reality.

If that’s the case, then really New Moon is a perfect movie. Just, you know, minus the “movie” part.

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