Saturday, 21 November 2009

Twilight: New Moon (film review)

After a problematic start to their relationship, Edward Cullen and Bella Swann are settling into their relationship, and are head over heels in love. But as the poets say, true love has never been a snap, and Edward and his family soon hightail it from the town of Forks. Will Bella cope without him? Will they ever see each other again? Will she move on from Edward to the startlingly buff guy with a phobia of shirts?

Ok, so as you may have guessed from the above plot summary, I'm not exactly a Twilight fan. I haven't read the books, and I didn't really enjoy the first film (although, in fairness, it made me laugh a lot - just not intentionally), so I'm a little biased towards dislikeing it, but I'll try and do this objectively. My apologies if I don't quite pull it off...

I'll start on a positive note; it was better than the first film, for a whole host of reasons.For a start, the action was genuinely impressive. It was the best bit about Twilight, and this was true of New Moon; additionally, since New Moon had more action in, this was an automatic improvement. On a related note, the werewolves were very well done - offputtingly enormous at first, but once I got used to that, I was impressed. Away from the CGI side of things, Jacob (Taylor Lautner) was the best of the central trio - indeed, the whole werewolf clan seemed much more appealing than the Cullen family. One suggestion that I liked was that werewolves exist to keep the vampires in check, which I thought was rather clever.

In fact, the secondary characters were the best aspect of the film, next to the action scenes. Bella's friends came across as genuine, friendly, slightly goofy people, and got many of the best lines, although not exclusive rights. In the interests of fairness, my vote for best line of the film is split between one of the werewolves and one of the Cullen family ("The bears won't get him - my kung-fu is strong", and "It will be nice not to want to kill you all the time", both of which drew loud roars of laughter from the audience). Alice (Edward's 'sister') managed to be likeable, funny, and interesting, so stood out from the crowd. More of the secondary characters next time? Which would rather defeat the point of the films, but I do think it would be an improvement. Although that said, I got the impression that we'll be seeing more of the Volturi next time, at least, and they were great. Michael Sheen was marvellously sinister and slimy as their leader, and they actually seemed like vampires - the scene with the tour party was very funny, in a grim fashion.

Finally, I did like the soundtrack; good orchestral moments when required, and the pop songs might have been cheesy, but in a good way.

But you may have noticed that I haven't passed judgement on the plot, or the film leads. Well, they were the worst part of the film, by quite some distance.

First, let us consider Bella. Good Lord, she was annoying. Yes, she loves Edward, and is devastated when he leaves. I sympathise. But she apparently doesn't move or change her clothes in three months (yes, I know I'm being too literal), she seems to ignore her friends almost completely, she leaves the country without telling her father, she's insanely reckless... I know that all those points can be explained away as pining for the love of her life, or emotional distress, or desperation, but that doesn't change the fact that I found her hugely unlikeable. This was probably made worse by Kirsten Stewart's acting, which seemed to amount to several variations on frowning and biting her lip.

Edward isn't much better. Another hugely unlikeable character. To be fair, he's not quite as creepy in New Moon as in Twilight (although equally, he spends most of it in Italy...) Most of my problem with him in New Moon was Pattinson's acting. I rewatched Goblet of Fire a few weeks ago, and while he's not exactly Laurence Olivier, he's not bad. I'm therefore forced to assume that his phoned in performance is due to his well-documented contempt for the character, which, while funny, badly affects the film. There was zero chemistry between Edward and Bella (and aren't Pattinson and Stewart going out off screen? Surely they could convey a little of that to the film...) There was chemistry between Bella and Jacob, which was nice, but that just left me even more annoyed at her insistence on going back to Edward.

Finally, I simply don't like a lot of the plot elements - the star crossed lovers thing is fine, if done well, but here it's just cheesy. Much of the angsty stuff between Edward and Bella has been done before, and done better (i.e. Buffy/Angel). The fact that 90% of the film's plot is the two of them moping around about each other was incredibly tedious. Such a plot could be done well. Such a plot would not be wasting opposing clans of vampires and werewolves, especially when we've seen that fights between the two species can be very entertaining.

And yes, vampires sparkling in the sunlight is a ridiculous idea. Seriously, seriously ridiculous.

All in all... 2.5/5, maybe a 3 if I'm charitable. Some good support, flashes of inspiration, but the central story and characters left me cold. Of course, if you're a Twilight fan, add another star, or two by all means. I get the feeling that the filmmakers didn't even attempt to make a film that might convert people, which is their prerogative.


  1. This all leads me to the inevitable question: Did you pay money to see this film?

  2. ... Maybe. Yes *hangs head in shame* For much the same reason that you paid money to see Twilight! We took cards, and awarded each line marks out of ten for bullshit.