The Saga of the Next Generation?
December 11, 2009
D: Chris Weitz. DP: Javier Aquirresarobe. W: Melissa Rosenberg. Starring: Kristen Stewart/Robert Pattinson/Taylor Lautner/Ashley Greene/Billy Burke/Chaske Spencer/Peter Facinelli/Anna Kendrick/Michael Welch/Michael Sheen/Dakota Fanning/James Campbell Bower/Nikki Reed/Elizabeth Reaser/Kellan Lutz/Jackson Rathbone/Rachelle Lefevre. (Note: Based on the 2006 novel by Stephanie Meyer.)
So far, not only has this saga of a series broken box offices records, but it has broken and mended tweens hearts all across the globe. And so it begins…
New Moon immediately excels past its predecessor, Twilight, in mood, shot composition, and pacing. The film is concretely rooted in Bella’s (Stewart) point of view as she continues her romance with immortal teenage vampire Edward (Pattinson) and begins to itch for inclusion in that lifestyle. New Moon‘s story line also benefits from actually being given acts and climactic moments that allow the over two hour film to not feel laborious. This credit must go to Weitz who inherits the project from Hardwicke who was sidelined for money reasons.
Weitz at least seems to have redeemed himself from his last directorial adventure, The Golden Compass (2007), that was clearly poorly adapted from its original novel. Here Weitz and Aquirresarobe are committed to a darker look in Forks and a more dynamic use of space than in the last film. That being said, Weitz creative use of 360 degree shots, one actually right after the other, will probably make most of the audience nauseous, if the film’s theme doesn’t already have them feeling that way.
But what is New Moon‘s theme? For a novel series that has come under various scrutiny and prompted many discussion on the direction of young adult fiction, it is difficult to color this film with even one palette. Rosenberg stays truer to Meyer’s story in this installment, embracing the darker complications of Stewart’s experiences and decisions. So that, although at the core of the series is romance, Rosenberg clearly attempts to unearth larger questions of reality, the supernatural, choices of lifestyles and paths we take. But will audiences really read all that into this film? Discussion point. So go discuss!
And while everyone is out delving into the ramifications of a Mormon novelist’s take on supernatural death defying love, New Moon‘s cast of craziness still needs to be handled. Stewart leads the pack as the awkward and gutsy Bella who despite relationship defeat continues to breathe the whole movie. Stewart has progressed in this role and does service to Bella’s character’s contradiction of quietness yet ultimate gusto in her choice of love. Thankfully, rather than mope and weep, Stewart’s Bella screams and inverts into herself, truly manifesting the pain being caused.
The pain is of course being caused by none other than, hold back your screams ladies, Mr. Robert Pattinson’s Edward Cullen. Although hardly on screen in this film, Pattinson is just as sullen, pale, and statuesque as in Twilight. His Edward suffers from not being properly developed in the previous film, much like his acting skills. But he is better here and at least in this film a proper make-up team was hired so that him and his vampire family don’t merely look like a Halloween party.
And a party it is as Stewart’s birthday moment in the beginning of the film not only establishes the pace for the rest of the story, but exhibits Weitz amp up mentality. Which of course includes asking, now wolf pack member (given away by the trailer! Uggg), to step up his physical game. Thus making Lautner’s Jacob everything Pattinson’s Edward is not. He’s full of smiles, manly hobbies, and a physical warmth that is personified not only by his looks at Stewart, but his tanned body, athleticism, and wolf-pack mentality. Given the most screen time next to Stewart, Lautner pulls his weight as sensitive, strong Jacob, making Stewart’s decision even more nebulous for those out of the novel loop.
Holding down this cast is Burke as Stewart’s father, just as good of a choice as he was in the first film. The Cullens remain very limited in this film, a disappointment as their family dynamic will end up being so important to the story. Yet Miss Green continues to shine as Alice, a new face that will hopefully not get trapped within the midst of the Twilight craze. A craze that has at least resulted in this franchise receiving more money and these young actors being given better opportunities to do other projects, or so we hope.
Overall, the film is worth seeing. Yes, Weitz’s team has a few flubs, continuity errors, and unexplained moments, but will that matter? Sometimes it is worth it to see some mainstream entertainment now and then as, just like the Potter series, it is monopolizing the minds the developing generation. So keep in touch, these are the movers and shakers of tomorrow!
Don’t forget it doesn’t mean you have to like it.