I gave last year’s “Twilight” a fair pass because it pulled off some original and compelling storytelling despite the backlash by non-fans who found the whole phenomenon silly and far too juvenile for mainstream audiences.
I went so far as to read the New Moon novel and while I found it uneven, soapy and poorly structured, I understood and enjoyed the way it made a cliché subject readable. I also respected the direction it was heading and was looking forward to seeing the film adaptation and the next sequel (“Eclipse”).
That good will has expired because the “New Moon” film was so sloppily directed, edited and acted… I no longer care about the direction of the franchise.
Despite the clunky storyline, this one should’ve been a slam dunk. When Bella (Kristen Stewart) accidentally tempts the undisciplined vampire Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) by spilling her irresistible blood in front of him, her undead lover, Edward (Robert Pattinson) suddenly decides to abandon her for fear of her safety amongst his kind. Alone and distraught, she seeks the companionship of her Native American friend, Jacob (Taylor Lautner). Although she finds herself drawn to the kind and attentive Jacob, Bella soon discovers that putting herself in mortal danger induces visions of Edward, thus beginning a cycle of risky behavior in an attempt to be in Edward’s presence. Jacob, desperately in love with Bella, tries to protect her but soon abandons her as well when the discovery of his own dangerous supernatural legacy puts her at risk.
There’s a lot for fans to like in “New Moon” but I found the majority of the audience laughing at the unintentionally cheesy moments and shoddy acting. Although loyal to the novel (to a fault), “New Moon” doesn’t surpass its inherent flaws well enough to recommend it to the uninitiated. Fans will find adequate satisfaction in the depiction of the franchise’s sophomore property, but anyone else will find it slow, boring and cliché. Any budget enhancements were squandered as the poor computer effects seemed at least 10 years behind. Add to that a storyline where one of the two lead characters goes absent for the entire 2nd act and you’ve got a film where even the diehard fans probably wanted Hollywood to take drastic liberties in order to make the film more interesting.
The most compelling characters, the enigmatic vampire “Volturi” royalty, gets ten minutes of screentime max. When the most compelling part of the story is a 10 minute rip off of a scene from “Interview with the Vampire,” you know the production is in trouble. A select few scenes worked brilliantly and the overall adaptation remained true to the source, but that’s no excuse for lousy filmmaking.
Bad acting (especially Stewart), bad story structure, bad pacing, bad effects and so many other problems sank a film I was actually interested in seeing. Lautner as the spurned and troubled Jacob proved the best actor of the lot. If I were to make a guess, I’d say he’s Hollywood’s new “it” boy, especially since he’s merely the tender age of 17 and managed to upstage a cast of Hollywood youth veterans.
Fans will see “New Moon” regardless of my opinion. If you’re not a fan, don’t bother. It will just confirm your expectations of this now overhyped film franchise. Supposedly the next sequel “Eclipse” is where things get interesting. It releases in seven months (June 2010) so fans won’t have long to ponder their allegiances to the current film adaptation before it hits. Let’s hope that with a new director (“30 Days of Night” director David Slade), the franchise will find its second wind.
Rating: 2 and ½ out of 5 stars
Nicely put-togther trailer below
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