- Rated PG-13
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All photos © Summit Entertainment
Reviewed by David Medsker
t is usually the ultimate compliment for a movie to be considered better than the written work that inspired it. In the case of the movies made from Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series, however, it would be considered a profound disappointment if they weren’t. Legions of Twi-hards be damned, the books are ponderous reads, clumsy and thick-headed like their heroine Bella Swan. Fortunately, the people that have been hired to bring the “Twilight” books to life have a better grasp of narrative and structure than Meyer does, and ultimately save “New Moon” from itself. Well, save it to a point, at any rate. It’s still not a great movie, but it’s more tolerable than the book.
Bella (Kristen Stewart) is trying to resume a normal life after surviving a vampire attack that nearly converted her, but after an accident at the house of her undead boyfriend Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) causes Edward’s recently converted brother Jasper to flip out, he drops an even bigger bombshell: he and his family are leaving, and she will never see him again. Bella is devastated by the news, and after wallowing in self-pity for a few months, she finds comfort in the company of old friend Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). But it isn’t long before Jacob drops a bombshell of his own; he just recently transformed from a normal teen to a werewolf, and his new life calls for him to track and kill the “bloodsuckers.”
Screenwriter Melissa Goldberg judiciously moved some bits around in order to streamline the story, and it pays huge dividends during the scene where Bella unknowingly cheats a slow, painful death at the hands of treacherous vampire Victoria (Rachelle Lefevre). However, there is nothing Goldberg can do about the fact that the final four-fifths of the story hangs on one simple little sentence that Edward doesn’t say. It’s as if Meyer wrote the story backwards, knowing where she needed to get in order to set up the next book, but unsure about how to get there. In the end, the entire plot of “New Moon” is little more than a Big Misunderstanding, two hours of characters sulking, brooding, and not talking to each other. But damn, look at the buffed up, shirtless Taylor Lautner! Eeeeeeeeeee!
Speaking of Lautner, he isn’t a master thespian, but the producers were wise to keep him. He’s good enough for these movies, and he certainly had the support of the females in the audience. Pattinson, however, looks bored, and Stewart looks confused, or at least conflicted, about what she’s doing. Perhaps she can’t shake the feeling that the story doesn’t make any sense, either. Anna Kendrick only gets a few lines, but once again, she makes every one of them count as Bella’s spacey friend Jessica. The scene at the movie theater is arguably the best, as the movie within the movie (we wouldn’t dare spoil it) is hilariously bad. The whole glittery-vampire thing still looks ridiculous, though, and one scene where we see one of Edward’s sister Alice’s visions (the super-cute Ashley Greene) actually prompted gales of unintentional laughter. From the franchise’s biggest fans, no less.
It’s hard not to feel just a little bit sorry for the people making “New Moon.” They have to know that they are not making Shakespeare, no matter how many ham-fisted “Romeo & Juliet” references Meyer shoehorns into the story. Still, they clearly care about making the best damn movie they can – given the limitations of the source material, anyway – and “New Moon” reflects that. As compliments go, that’s awfully backhanded, but it’s as far as we’re willing to go.
Special Edition DVD Review:
There are only three types of extras to the two-disc set of "New Moon," but they are substantial. Director Chris Weitz and editor Peter Lambert contribute an audio commentary, and there is an hour-long, six-part featurette on the making of the movie. They also included the music videos from the soundtrack (Death Cab for Cutie, Mutemath, Anya Marina), along with rehearsal footage of "Twilight" author Stephenie Meyer's beloved Muse. The DVD also comes with a separate DVD called "Twilight in Forks," an 84-minute movie on the small town that inspired Meyer's story. Plenty of goodies for the Twihard in your life.