The Twilight Saga: New Moon
You would expect a film about passionate, dangerous, thwarted love to feel ecstatic and urgent; this felt more like a gentle Valium downer.


27 March 2010

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Plot summary

Edward leaves Bella after an attack that nearly claimed her life, and in her depression she falls into yet another paranormal relationship, this time with werewolf Jacob Black.

Having been entirely seduced by the dizzying combination of silliness and hormonal angst on display in 2007’s Twilight, I hied me to a cinema hot with anticipation for New Moon. Naively, I hoped that the much-discussed ‘development’ of the character Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) wouldn’t dominate the film too much – for me, two hours of footage featuring an eight-packed teenager sounds both pervy and dull. This was because the chemistry between Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) was what made Twilight so unexpectedly gripping in the first place. Sadly for me (if not for thousands of Twihards), my foolish hopes were sadly dashed.

The plot is simple enough; Edward leaves Bella, and she stares forlornly out of a window for three months before deciding to take up dangerous activities to force Edward to come back and save her. Jacob provides a stoic shoulder for her to cry on and gradually (oh so gradually) wins her over, before she is whisked away by the Cullens once more on a mission to soothe Edward’s troubled vampire brow.

I was, as you can tell, rather disappointed by New Moon. The dreamy romance of its predecessor seems to have evaporated, and we are left with Kirsten Stewart pulling long faces and getting gratuitously rained on. Occasionally a poorly animated pack of angry werewolves appeared, but as they never looked particularly real, I found them funny rather than scary. Edward bookends the film, and his scenes generally contained more of a frission than those without him.

Of course, I am not the target demographic of the Twilight franchise, and so my high-flown expectations were naturally ignored by the film’s creators. The main parts that I can remember seemed to involve deliciously unnecessary male semi-nudity, but presented in a strangely antiseptic manner. To cut to the chase – Robert Pattinson had more success in creating sexual tension when he wore a shirt, and Lautner perhaps would have made better use of his time by swapping hours at the bench press for a few acting lessons. However, if the character Jacob Black is supposed to come across as a bit of a lunkhead, then the performance wasn’t so bad, and, judging by the amount of ‘Team Jacob’ sentiment amongst teenage girls, it would appear that hunky lunkheads are very highly sought after.

Most of the problems with New Moon come from poor pacing and poor character development, which are clearly legacies of the original source material. Beyond those issues, the photography is pleasing, and the dialogue feels convincingly teenage. It’s a pleasant film, despite its failings – but it never threatened to be exciting. You would expect a film about passionate, dangerous, thwarted love to feel ecstatic and urgent; this felt more like a gentle Valium downer. After the emotional thrills of Twilight, New Moon feels more than a little underwhelming.