For those who have read and love the Twilight Saga, the movies are much anticipated and loyally supported. It’s just fun to see the story played out on screen. For those who haven’t read the books, the effect appears to be the same. The numbers don’t lie: New Moon, which released on November 20th, is the second installment in a series of four and grossed over $470 million worldwide in the first two weekends alone.
Though it is much the same genre as Harry Potter or Narnia, The Twilight Saga has its own particular magic appealing mostly to young teenage girls. The story is a romance between a human girl and a ‘vegetarian’ vampire. New Moon introduces another twist the mythical elements: werewolves who only hunt vampires.
The story continues where it left off: Edward, the vampire Bella fell in love with in Twilight, becomes convinced their relationship puts Bella in danger. In order to protect Bella, Edward leaves her. Bella is devastated but discovers that when she puts herself in more danger, she has visions of Edward. To feed her new fetish with danger and heal the ‘hole’ in her heart, Bella takes advantage of her Native American friend Jacob’s abilities to fix up a couple of motorcycles. Of course, Jacob falls in love with Bella and she begins to love him as well. However, a mysterious change in Jacob leads Bella to discover a frightening secret about her friend and his tribe – they are arch-enemies of vampires. So when it’s up to Bella to save Edward from himself, she must choose who will be her true love.
I was not terribly impressed with Rob Pattinson and Kristin Stewart’s acting in this movie. Mostly, I think it’s because they are not given much to work with by way of believable plot or interesting dialogue. The books rely heavily on descriptions of Bella’s feelings, so the movie adaptation is a bit forced on the emotional front; Pattinson doesn’t have to do much besides stand around and look handsomely stricken and Stewart merely mopes or screams, depending on the scene. The only character that I felt had sincere depth is Jacob (played by Grand Rapids native Taylor Lautner), who effectively portrays his inner conflict and desire for Bella and delivers his dialogue in a tone that is refreshingly real compared to the other characters.
Director Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass, About a Boy), valiantly tries to atone for the lack of acting with creative techniques (at one point we see the months pass by way of seasons changing outside a window as we slowly circle a catatonic Bella). Weitz definitely improves New Moon over a more austere Twilight, directed by the lesser-known Catherine Hardwicke (The Nativity Story, Lords of Dogtown). We get some satisfying battle scenes between monsters; the wolves are huge and hairy, and the bad vampires die with a bit more action and spite than we saw in Twilight. The special effects aren’t exceptional but are certainly adequate.
I wouldn’t want any young girls basing their relationship standards on this story – there are way too many abnormalities. Of course, Bella and Edward are not a normal couple. Edward stalks Bella in her sleep and has a hard time not eating her; Bella jumps off cliffs and bikes with creepy men to induce visions of Edward’s displeasure. But part of the charm of the story is accepting the idea that Bella and Edward are fated to be together; thus Bella’s literal devastation when Edward leaves doesn’t seem so far-fetched, and the ending is more suspenseful.
I, for one, will continue to remain a fan of the Twilight Saga – despite its shortcomings, the story is a creative twist on some familiar myths (which I love), has a lot of potential for improvement in the next couple of installments, and – let’s face it – who doesn’t like a love story now and then?
~C. Noel Carlson