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Rapid Review: New Moon

November 22, 2009

As far as literature is concerned, reading Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight saga is much like having a Happy Meal when you really wanted a steak dinner.  It’s okay at the time, but later on your stomach might have some serious regrets.

Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight movie had the unfortunate task of introducing us to all the characters in the novels.  It was so slowly paced I was extremely glad I waited to watch it on video.  Jeff, my husband, didn’t make it very far through the film.  He accurately said something along the lines of  “there are too many teenagers brooding at each other”.

Jacob, put your shirt back on before the cougars get embarrassed.

Chris Weitz, the director of New Moon, has another equally challenging problem:  How do you inject action into a film adaptation of a book where the hero (Robert Pattinson’s glowering Edward) is noticably absent for 3/4ths of the book?  Weitz, who directed About a Boy and The Golden Compass, both of which I enjoyed immensely, tackles this task with a simple solution:  inject a whole ‘lotta half-naked werewolf.

The first hour and a half of New Moon consists of Weitz showing us the developing friendship of heroine Bella with werewolf Jacob.  Jake’s  “secret” becomes one of the turning points of the saga, and Weitz certainly uses it as an excuse to show Jacob (Taylor Lautner) and his were buddies without their shirts as much as humanly possible.  Not that I was complaining – the only time New Moon really “shines” is when the wolves are on screen – CGI gone wild, but with eyes that still show that spark of humanity. 

Weitz may anger some of the hardcore Bella/Edward fans – it is clear from the film that he favors the werewolf angle.  They even get all of the best lines.  Both heroes (Lautner and Pattinson) appear at one point shirtless.  Some fans in the showing I watched were amazed that Bella didn’t jump ship and join Jacob in the film’s climax.

Laurent, if only your threats had not been empty...

Kristen Stewart’s Bella is the weak link in the film.  She doesn’t act as much as RE-act, and her constant lip biting to show “confusion/anger/sadness” made me bored/annoyed/exhausted.

New Moon is harmless enough, and it is vastly more engaging than its predecessor.  Weitz wisely doesn’t bother to pretend this is a movie for adults.  Every line and every image is tailor-made for preteens, and it works on that level.

I noticed that Weitz will not be directing Eclipse.  A film series that spits out so many directors has some interesting internal issues at work.  I’d love to be a fly on the wall of those production meetings…



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