Friday, 20 November 2009

The Twilight Saga: New Moon


Dir: Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass)
Source Material: Novel by Stephenie Meyer
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, Ashley Greene, Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning, Chaske Spencer, Rachelle Lefevre, Michael Welch, Tyson Houseman, Alex Meraz, Bronson Pelletier
USA, 2009

Seen: November 19, 2009 late night screening

Reason to See & Review: Been waiting for the film since Twilight came out as I'm a big fan and even have a Twilight Podcast: Before the Dawn. Plus, it's part of the Vampathon: Vampire Film Marathon *

This is not an easy review to write. I'm a fan of Twilight and was really looking forward to New Moon, the film adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's second book in the series. I am always more than happy to defend the film Twilight, it is an amazing translation that captures the heart and spirit of the book that it is based on and plays perfectly to the fans. Catherine Hardwicke infused the film with a unique visual style and evoked emotional intensity throughout. New Moon, on the other hand captures all the content of the book but not the spirit of the book or the series. Sure, we hit all the important plot points and the fantastical elements are created into film reality through effects that were better than Twilight but where is the heart?

New Moon follows the series very faithfully in terms of content, but not in terms of style. No longer are we treated to a world of cool tones which have been replaced with to be honest, nothing special. The colours, the costumes and the settings all feel like the simplest possible version of what they could be. Almost nothing extra is added and there feels like there is no overarching artistic vision that comes to life on screen. Plus, stylistic changes made to some of the characters feel completely out of character as well as being unnecessary. Put simply, the magic just ain't there.

Even though my first reaction is disappointment, there are moments to enjoy in the film. The scenes with the humans were the only ones that I felt were consistently great. Anna Kendrick continues to be stellar as Bella's not always nice friend Jessica, and Michael Welch was brilliant as Bella's friend Mike. Billy Burke reprises his role as Bella's father Charlie beautifully with a flair for combining being casual alongside parental. New to the series include the Wolf Pack which add a great sense of playful camaraderie and family. Also new is Michael Sheen who is positively delightful as Aro, the over the top leader of the Volturi. The biggest strength in the film is with Kristen Stewarts performance as Bella, this film is all about her and her trying emotional journey. She does an excellent job portraying a wide range of emotions, including hiding those emotions from those around her. Another highlight is the friendship between Bella and Jacob, who develop a great comfort with each other. Taylor Lautner, who plays Jacob delivers some of the best moments of the film, often with just a look or glare.

Overall, the film feels rushed. There is so much content jammed in that we don't have time to see the relationships or tension build gracefully or to unravel any of the mysteries. We are told many things that we could have been shown and it feels like it's going through the motions to get next scene, and quickly. It's a very straight up adaptation, but in comparison to Twilight it is paler than a Cullen.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it, but I wanted to love it
I'll watch it again & buy it
I'd recommend it to the Twilight diehards

15 minutes of preshow including 6 commercials and 4 previews: The Lovely Bones, Sherlock Holmes, Beastly and Letters to Juliet (on November 20/09 also had preview for Remember Me)

Return to Film Reviews, See all Vampire Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2009

* Vampathon is a 16 week marathon explore vampire films from Nosferatu (1922) up to the release of The Twilight Saga: New Moon


Univarn said...

If you thought this one felt rushed, when's Eclipse coming out, they're trying to get Eclipse out by June. I'm not a fan of the series to begin with and as such I'll be avoiding this one, and any future installments until I can be convinced otherwise :)

Jamie Ridler said...

It was fun to go and be a part of the experience - to see when people sighed and gasped and laughed - but the film itself was rather disappointing. I agree with you - where was the magic?

And also, where was the fashion sense - seriously! I don't believe Alice would have worn that striped number. I think that outfit's going to haunt me.

Suzie Ridler said...

Oh dear, no magic? No magic! That's why we love this story. Damn! Without that, it is just another action flick. I am so glad I know this before I go, now I will be prepared. I was hoping the costuming at least with the Vultori (sp?) was going to rock.

"...paler than a Cullen" Brilliant writing! Too funny and completely evocative.

At least Jacob and Bella don't disappoint, that's worth going to see at least!

Anonymous said...

The music was brilliant throughout. New Moon is the most difficult book to read because of the dark tone in the first half. It is a MUCH better read the second time through. I think critics are reacting this way when they are coming in cold. It's a film for the fans, Weitz said (after alienating Compass fans) that he would never stray again, he has delivered a very true version and the fans are hailing him.

Eclipse is decidedly more intense and less morose. Slade is also a lot more edgy than the old-fashioned Weitz. I think Eclipse will surprise a lot of people turned off by New Moon.

Wray said...

I knew there would be problems when Catherine Hardwicke left - she gave hints when she asked for more time and no one listened! Under those rushed conditions, I think Chris Weitz did a good job if a bit workman-like (is that a word?). I liked it better than you, though, because I really liked the performances and a most of the flourishes Weitz added. I'd like to hear about this: "Plus, stylistic changes made to some of the characters feel completely out of character as well as being unnecessary." Sounds interesting - please elaborate!

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Thanks everyone for the comments!

Univarn - it's true that Eclipse is closer to release than the time between Twilight and New Moon but they knew that ahead of time which is why they got a new director (David Slade of Hard Candy and 30 Days of Night) and they have already finished shooting so... turn around time might be similar overall.. we'll see.

Jamie it was so fun to go together, the crowd was hilarious. Jacob totally got more cheers than Edward (yay!) and the fashion was .. really.. just not good. I hope you didn't have nightmares from Alice's outfit!

Suzie I'm so curious as to what you will think of the film! The action isn't even all that awesome. It's ok but I mean, that isn't the point of the film so it's icing - and you still need the cake to put that icing on. On the Volturi costuming, it's not my thing - I saw the images ahead of time and was disappointed, it's very traditional 'old world' style. Now they would have been a perfect opportunity to do something new.

Anon - wow I don't think we agree on anything there! New Moon is my favourite from the books, I didn't find it too dark. I actually found Breaking Dawn the hardest to get through. I also loved both the book and film to The Golden Compass, although I recognize that there were issues that made the end result not the intended result.

I found the music (soundtrack and score) distracting, I was way to aware of it during the film and at times it even felt to loud. It might worm it's way into my heart, but at the moment, not so much.

Wray, you are so on the money. They should have listened to Catherine Hardwicke and given it the time and attention it deserved (and kept her on!). With the stylist changes, the biggest one was Alice's outfits I thought were crazy. Her Italy outfit is ...ridiculous and flamboyant. She goes for the whole pixie-yet-old-school+quality look. If it was more fashion forward I could forgive it but sheesh it wasn't.

Other bizarre changes include Jasper's hair (seriously...), Rosalie's black dress (totally not her style), Carlisle clothes were too futsy and old-world hair was .. again ridiculous.

Dean Sanderson said...

Observation: Robert Pattinson should have worked out more so as not to be upstaged by Lautner, who obviously worked out a lot for this movie

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Ah, but that wouldn't match the character of Edward who I don't think technically physically change from one film to the next for the sake on continuity.

Becky Beecham said...

I so wanted to love New Moon, but I was so disappointed after the long wait. Catherine Hardwicke's treatment of Twilight was magical and special. Chris Weitz's treatment (of an admittedly inferior book) lacked charm and cohesion. The editing was bad, the soundtrack awful. The characters looked weird and wooden, I suppose because the script was so poor. What a let down! Yeah - the clothes were bad, too, as Jamie said.

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Becky we are so on the same page, I agree with each and every point you made!

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