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Thursday, November 26, 2009

New Moon Review: The Good, The Bad, And the Ugly

Movie: The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Director: Chris Weitz
Rating: PG13
My Rating: 4/5

photos are owned by Summit Entertainment

Blog Note: Entirely spoilerish if you have not read the book. Otherwise, I will be commenting on what may be somewhat considered as the technical aspect. Tread lightly if you want to be surprised.

Let me start by saying that New Moon is moons different from its first movie, Twilight. With a bigger budget and a brand new director helming what could possibly be the most difficult of the 4 books within the Twilight Saga to be immortalized on the silver (or dare I say 'digital') screen, I thought it was pretty good.

The book in itself was dark and torturous. Bella, the heroine, had to struggle with a break-up (Edward), a renewed friendship (Jacob), and a decision to commit to someone eternally, both in the physical and metaphorical sense. Most readers of the series found the book to be slow. Heaven forbid that you're on the Team Edward side. You are basically tortured with the fact that Edward breaks up with Bella and has to find solace in the arms of the potential suitor, Jacob, who in his own ways has his own secrets to keep.

The movie starts pretty much where the book starts: a vision where Bella sees herself running through throngs of people dressed in red. She didn't know why, or how, but her dream was so surreal, it had left her unnerved.

This part was actually captured well. I knew that when I read this book in June, I couldn't wait to delve into the book and find out what her vision was all about. This segment kept the tone of the movie akin to your own personal experience of waking up to a dream you're finding reason to believe that may be a foreshadowing or something to muck up to plain craziness.

The story quickly delves into Bella's birthday celebration, and her party at the Cullens'. I giggled a bit at the papercut scene just because we've all had papercuts. Have you ever bled that much when you get one? I don't think so. Anyway, the overt blood sort of reminded me of the old SNL skit where Dan Akroyd pretends to be Julia Child and chops off her finger, sputtering blood everywhere. It was a little over the top, but hey, I usually yell out a profanity followed quickly by sticking my finger in my mouth. Guess Bella had a better pain tolerance compared to my wimpy state.

Anyone who had read the book would've known that the present that provided the papercut was a ticket to travel to anywhere for Edward and Bella. Somewhat, this wasn't explained, and at the height of the drama in the movie, it kind of made you wonder where Bella got tickets at hand to go rescue Edward.

Anywhoo, the incident of course brought division to the Cullen household, forcing Edward to cut Bella out of his life to "save" her from him and his family. Of course, this didn't sit well with Bella. Months upon months of her lament was depicted by spinning images of the seasons passing her by. Personally, I thought the song used was perfect. The mood Bella presented was painfully depicted. Other than those two observations, I thought this section needed a little help. Edward was wooden (not just the "I don't care" emo crap). He looked constipated. Robert Pattinson looked like he was emoting to a ball. He can't seem to emote to the person in front of him. The lines were cheesy (even the Romeo and Juliet part earlier in the scene... cheesy!!!). If there was a scene that I wish they could rewrite, this would be it. The acting was just... off.


To break her melancholy, Charlie tells her to live. Bella lies, tells him she's off to hang out with Jessica, blah, blah, blah. She realized that she sees Edward when she does something dangerous (ie. stupid). Like a kid, she does things to trigger the Edward vision, including purchasing 2 motor bikes that she eventually takes to Jacob for repair.

I actually liked the Jacob and Bella scenes together NOT because of Jacob-loving on my behalf, but because the chemistry on-screen between these two characters was more organic. Of course, this probably translated well compared to Twilight just because Jacob was both limited on screen time and the connection between Bella and Jacob at this point was more friendship. In this movie, Jacob exploits his friendship with Bella and tries to make their relationship jump to another level.

The friendship between Sam and Jacob, and the wolfpack in general was given a cursory touch. Jacob telling Bella he's afraid of Sam was heartfelt.

Part of me was torn to see that the movie didn't quite delve into the Quileute story as it did in the book, but I did understand that time constraints would've made the movie drag.

Anyway, the date at the movies with Mike, Jacob and Bella takes place. If there was one part of the movie for me to swoon, it was this. Mike goes puking and Jacob tries to put the moves on Bella. I have to credit Kristen Stewart for making it look like she was really torn about staying loyal to a jackass boyfriend that had abandoned her, and finding out "what could be" with a potential new love.

Of course, it's also in this scene that Jacob "gets sick".

Bella goes through the same motions of losing Jacob when he doesn't return her calls. When her dad and Harry go fishing, she goes to the reservation to check up on Jacob. Behold, she sees him wet and half-naked and not wanting to talk to her. Fast forward to Jacob going to her place and pleading with her to remember the story from the beach in Twilight. When she figures it out, she goes back to the reservation, pisses Paul off until he transforms. Bella runs away, only to be defended by Jacob who transforms in front of her.

First, I would like to point out that Alex Meraz as Paul was great. He does this wicked wink at Bella that would make me swoon if I were her. Second, a lot of people gave the CGI work on the werewolves an F. I thought it served its purpose. No, it didn't have the refined look of Gollum in Lord Of The Rings but the wolves were big. The graphics were better than some of the bigger budgeted films I've seen recently. Surely, when this movie is viewed 10 years from now, we'd groan worse than when we saw it the first time. But you know what? The wolves were depicted well enough that it didn't take you out of the story. Lastly, when the flashbacks of the pack devouring Laurent were shown, they were mean and scary, just like they left me shuddering when I read the book.

As Chief Swan and his merry men walk through the forest, Victoria makes her quick appearance. The importance of the scene, of course, was to show that she was still around and that she would be the reason Harry would have a heart attack and die.

Loved the fact that Victoria's outfit was toned down. She doesn't look like a deranged Stevie Nicks wannabe. The effects on how fast and strong she is was well choreographed. Definitely won't mind seeing this 300-like special effects.

The segment was quickly followed by Bella's cliff jumping moment. Again, I thought this was photographed well.

After the incident, Bella finds Alice at her home. Of course, Jacob is overly protective of Bella at this point. He warned her that if the Cullens are back, the pack couldn't protect her from Victoria because of the treaty.

The conversation among these three characters was probably one of the better written sections. Alice was concerned, Bella was agitated... only to be asked why she smelled like "dog". Jacob steps in and the three have a very tense moment. (Then the procurement of said plane tickets!)

The Italy scene was very picturesque. Loved the way it was shot. Loved the way they captured Bella running through the fountain to get to Edward before he exposes himself. (Rather surprised at the lack of sighs when RP disrobes to reveal himself to the society!!!)

The Volturi scene, albeit short, was powerful and disturbing. Michael Sheen as Aro was menacing. He portrayed "vampire" with such flourish. I also had to admit that Dakota Fanning (whom I am not a big fan of) as Jane had the innocent look that just oozed evil. Her expression when trying to inflict pain on Bella was wicked. The action scene rocked! I didn't recognize Daniel Cudmore as Felix. He did major poundage!!!

My only knock in this segment was Alice's vision of Edward and Bella as a transformed vampire. It reminded me of the Old Spice commercial: cheesy character with gap vests and jackets. And Bella's Alice in Wonderland outfit? Get real!!! Could've done without that scene, guys.

When everything's said and done, the world of Team Edward is once again safe. Cullen moves back to Forks to be with Bella. But Jacob gives Cullen a warning. He, too, tries to convince Bella to think again about her relationship with Edward. When she tells Jacob that she loves him but not in the way she does Edward, Jacob tells her, " Que Quowie" (Stay with me forever).

Then the movie ends with a cliffhanger. (You know what it is if you read the book.)

Things I wish would be better on Eclipse:

1. Edward's make-up: AWFUL!!! I thought he was supposed to be luminescent, not marble drab. And if you're the walking dead, why would you have ruby-red lips? I have to give props to the CGI team that made the sparkling less distracting. Thumbs up on that aspect.

2. Bella and Edward dialogue: Just because Edward is old that his colloquillism cannot be written better. With KS and RP being real-life lovers, their dialogue needs to transform their on-life persona.

3. Jacob's dazzling white teeth: Asset as an actor. As a person playing a wolf, distracting. The brilliance can be so out of place.