In this edition of Double Take writer Josie Mangani and editor Addam Hardy give a male and female editorial perspective review on the recently released installment of The Twilight Saga — New Moon. The two editorial reviews will be combined here into a single article entitled Double Take.

Plot synopsis:

Following the vampire attack in the first installment of Twilight that nearly killed her, Bella settled into a more relaxed and comfortable Forks, Washington, and prepared for her upcoming Birthday. At the birthday party at the Cullen’s home she accidentally shed some blood which created some serious fears and concerns in the minds of the Cullen’s considering their feverish desire for human blood.

After the accident, the Cullen’s decide to leave town for the benefit of Bella’s life. Bella is completely heartbroken and deals with horrible nightmares and serious bouts of depression due to the loss of her love. Bella realizes that the only time she could actually see Edward was when she was being reckless with her life and putting herself in danger. This causes Bella to begin acting strangely, and during this time she develops a close relationship with Jacob Black. However, Jacob Black becomes something Bella never could have anticipated.

Torn between deciding if she wants to hold onto the past or embrace the future, Bella is again thrown into a supernatural situation where she has no business; dealing with love, obsession, friendship and the cost of all three.

Josie’s take on New Moon:

With the turbulent feelings surrounding New Moon highly charged with estrogen, it feels almost like a farce to be a female without a strong inclination toward Weitz’s adaptation of Meyer’s second vampire book. That is not to say, however, that New Moon isn’t a better film than its predecessor – it is. With a bigger budget and better director, the Twilight sequel has managed to achieve a visually appealing movie with some engaging action scenes. It may not appeal to an audience beyond the teenage girl niche that it is famous for, but frankly does it really matter when it can break the opening day record with $80 million?

For Summit Entertainment it really doesn’t matter at all where the money is coming from because they’ve struck gold in the most unlikely of places. But how can movie buffs, or even casual moviegoers, not feel like they’ve been slapped in the face with a movie such as New Moon breaking box office records? The quality of Weitz’s film may have improved visually on Hardwicke’s Twilight, but the shonky acting and meaningless storyline is as baseless as ever. Even as a female, in the age group that these films are directed to, I couldn’t help but cringe at the way Edward and Jacob were portrayed as superior, God-like creatures. Poor Bella Swan hasn’t heard of feminism yet, and as she mourns the loss of one man in her life, she is quick to latch onto another as the months of Edward’s absence go by.

Before I go on, it would perhaps be appropriate to add that I actually read each book in the Twilight series before any of the movies were commissioned. The fact that Bella Swan was a very different character in the first draft of the Twilight script was not the result of bad script writing. Bella’s character lacks the independent spirit she requires to be the hero of the Twilight movies. New Moon wavers between the male leads, Edward and Jacob. Fans of the movies chant for Team Edward or Team Jacob and Bella is somehow lost in the middle without a purpose or cause to continue without them.

The Romeo and Juliet overtones at the beginning and end of this movie were poignant to the plot but only beautiful in their own right. Combined with New Moon, the literary comparison cheapens and entirely misses the point of Shakespeare’s original text. Bella and Edward may not be an ordinary couple, but nor are they star-crossed lover’s, as any reader of Breaking Dawn would know.

Chris Weitz did his job as best he could with the materials available to him. The lush scenery of the Pacific Northwest combined with the haunting score by Alexandre Desplat offer us a nice distraction from the otherwise empty lines fit for daytime soap operas. A fast-paced chase through the forest with CGI wolves and a brazen red haired Victoria provides us with enough action to mull over while we watch Edward almost sacrifice himself for love.

In all, New Moon is exactly what you would expect it to be – Twilight without the blue filter and better, albeit more expensive, cinematography. Perhaps Eclipse will put to rest the problems surrounding this franchise, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Addam’s take on New Moon:

The popularity of Twilight is indisputable and at times nauseating. What exactly Twilight’s rabid fan base finds in such a vapid and lacking story is the real question. Honestly, I was getting tired of hearing so many people verbally destroy the Twilight property as well as its fanbase. So to be honest, I really wanted to like New Moon. I really wanted to go into New Moon with a clean slate and come out of it telling everyone that they are all full of shit and are only jumping on the hate bandwagon; much like we all did, and do, on the male version of the strange ultra-fan phenomenon — The Boondock Saints. I thought to myself, surely if I only could change my perspective and open my mind I can break through the murky waters of Twilight fandom and find the real heart of what Twilight is and what its true fans find so appealing about it. I really believed, and like a young boy who waited up all night to catch the Easter Bunny sneaking through his house, I discovered my belief was misplaced, abused and as fleeting as my anticipation to see the film while standing in a line for an hour and a half for a midnight screening. It’s time for straight talk kids: My hopes were all in vain because Twilight has about the same amount of actual substance, message and entertainment to offer the audience as listening to two wide eyed love struck middle schoolers going back and forth in the “No, I love YOU more,” game on the telephone.

Confronted with the mental anguish that is a protracted love story of Bella Swan and her painfully difficult love Edward Cullen, the audience is torn between long awkward stares augmented with confusing impenetrable bouts of silence and stuttered and repetitive professions of obsession and love as poetic and meaningful as those 8th grade love letters you have stuffed in a shoe box under your bed. If Shakespearean love were the Sistine Chapel, the pouty tortured teenage infatuation that is confused and mislabeled as love in the Twilight Saga would be a stick man drawn on a dinner napkin with a crayon.

Aside from the utter lack of substance from the source material, the acting in the film is laughable at best. However, I started to get the feeling while watching that this form of acting was being coached and encouraged. The fans of Twilight love these characters and the way they act and profess their love. With the first installment setting the tone and the bar of acting ability, how would we react to a second film full of Oscar worthy performances? They wouldn’t be the same characters anymore and could possibly lose their appeal their audiences. Are Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart really that awful at acting or are they unfortunately locked, and by locked I mean making more money than I’ll ever dream of and attaining more global popularity than most heads of state, into characters that have absolutely nothing to bring to the screen? I would love to see Kristen Stewart out of her type-casted awkward-emo-teen girl roles and into something where we can get a true gauge of her ability. Fortunately, the burden of having the worst performance in New Moon was removed from Robert Pattinson’s plate as he was rarely in the film and only for short spans of time when he was. The mantle of male lead was passed on to Taylor Lautner who, among the lead roles, clearly has the most legitimate and marketable acting ability in the cast. Unfortunately, his performance as an actor was often eclipsed by the shirt-off ripped muscles eye candy he was being forced to whore about screen with. For a story that has a core theme of ‘never ever have sex or you will feel extreme pain and die,’ New Moon is filled with enough teenage sexual desire and swoon worthy eye candy to make your local high school abstinence club faint trying to understand the paradoxical dilemma painted with wide strokes throughout the material. Stephenie Meyer’s official stance: Want to have sex so bad you feel like dying, but when you decide to have sex, don’t do it, or you will die.

Ultimately after all the talk is boiled down to meaningless repetitive bitching, if you will like Twilight, you probably already do and there is nothing wrong with that. This property has spread like an unstoppable virus and is only increasing with strength. Will the fever burn out eventually only to leave the books collecting dust in your local libraries and the DVDs in that large $2.99 bin at Wal-Mart of long lost and forgotten junk DVDs that would cost more to trash than sell for less than the cost of Happy Meal? My guess is yes, but it’s probably going to be a long time until that happens. Whatever it is that fueled this pop-culture phenomenon, my initial assumption is some sort of deal with the devil, or whatever it is that Twilight fans find so comforting and touching in The Twilight Saga “love story” may never be clear to me, but I’m not in this film’s target audience and it is by no means hurting to gain me or any one who thinks like me as a follower. The fanbase has a sturdy foundation and has taken root. I want to say it is a horrible story, but if enough people believe it is a great story doesn’t that make it true and me wrong? For the cause of continuing our lives without causing anuerisms due to trying to process the ‘why’ of Twilight, I say keep on loving what you love Twilight fans. I wish I enjoyed anything half as much as you enjoy this insipid attempt at expressing teenage love. Just please don’t talk to me about how much you love it. Ever. Please.

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