Summit Entertainment | USA | 130 mins
The Twilight Saga: New Moon is a slight improvement over the first installment, yet still remains a void of pure mediocrity. This forgettable sequel features the same formula as the first film with similar character dilemmas brought on by cringe-inducing relationships. It’s all the same, only with a bit more umph.
Bella is still in love with Edward and he is still in love with her. Despite his excessive old age and gloomy persona, she is crazy for him. So when he has to leave after a freak accident (one of the Cullen’s attacks Bella after a paper cut gone wrong) everything goes bad. This demolishes Edward to the point where he feels obligated to leave to keep Bella safe. When he does finally leave, Bella turns to a life of moaning and recklessness. After months of depression she decides to turn to her old friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner), the new love interest. There’s just one minor problem: he happens to be a vampire-hating werewolf.
The set-up of Bella and Edward torn apart is done rather quickly, and then the other non-involving love story starts. The relationship between Jacob and Bella replicates her relationship with Edward. The same conflict is present: the guy’s different and feels conflicted. There’s plenty of back and forth between them and none of it works. The lack of chemistry and genuine involvement with these love triangles is almost uncanny. Edward is practically non-apparent except for a few useless spirit-like sequences. He’s more of a footnote with no genuine involvement with the overall story, he just supplies Bella with her motives. The real focus is Bella’s downfall of not having Edward around, there’s plenty of very (unintentional) misogynistic undertones spreaded throughout the film.
Kristen Stewart proved herself as a strong actor in this year’s excellent Adventureland, but here she’s completely wasted. Some of the blame lies in the Bella character; she’s a terrible protagonist. She’s moronic for one, isn’t compelling and is completely unlikable, unable to function without having a man to rely on. Most of the film she’s stuck to looking sad or to acting continuously whiny. There’s nothing particularly interesting or involving about her. Robert Pattinson on the other hand actually fares better this time around. The cheesy slow motion model scenes certainly aren’t flattering on an acting level, but he handles all the quieter moments in a respectable fashion. The rest of cast including Ashley Greene, Anna Kendrick, and a creepy Dakota Fanning are the true highlights but are unfortunately underused.
Many of the film’s problems stem from director Chris Weitz. He paints the film with a visually dull aesthetic and his framing and camerawork choices are also quite questionable. The film is shot in a bland, formulaic manor with choppy action sequences and a horribly overdramatic use of slow motion. The first action sequence including the werewolves is completely incomprehensible. Weitz shoots plenty of the action in a boxed-in manor, employing far too many close-ups and jarring jump cuts. It also doesn’t help that a few of the CG shots feel unfinished and cartoonish. There’s also the issue of Weitz’s unrelenting use of montages. There all heavy handed, cheesy, and unnecessary.
There is potential in this franchise still (the concept remains interesting) but so far all of its ideas have gone to waste. Every creative attempt has been underwhelming and mediocre. There’s a few redeemable moments here and there (a la the juicy, if sparse, supporting roles) but nothing can save New Moon from the awful characters, hamfisted dialog and the sluggish pacing of an already slim plot.