Friday, November 20, 2009

Neither the sun nor many positives shine on dark love story 'New Moon’

By Steve Crum

You can’t trust vampires, believe me,” warns central vampire Edward Cullen in The Twilight Saga: New Moon. He is so right. But you can trust New Moon to deliver teen angst by the bloody bucketful. Nifty werewolf and vampire special effects barely mask New Moon’s soap opera bathos and melodramatics. Those who can’t get enough of either Stephenie Meyers’ Twilight novels or the first movie will no doubt be in hormone heaven over New Moon. For the rest of us, New Moon is 2+ hours of cheesy, adolescent lust wrapped in werewolves’ clothing.

Homage to Shakespeare peppers Melissa Rosenberg’s screenplay. As the central teen characters study and recite Romeo and Juliet in English class, the tale of true love among feuding families plays out in real life. Instead of Capulets versus Montagues, however, we get the Cullen vampire family versus the Quileute wolf pack.

As this part two of the Twilight Saga begins, 18 year-old Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) still pines for Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). He and his family have left rustic Forks, Washington, endeavoring to keep Bella safe and humanly alive. That is opposed to being vampire-alive, which is what Bella really desires so she can forever be with neck-biter Edward. Throughout New Moon, Bella waxes suicidal via drowning, driving, and putting herself in harm’s way with a bad vampire. (Twilight is populated with both good and bad blood guzzlers. Edward is one of the good ones.)

As if Stewart’s Bella is not already the most emotionless soul on the planet, with the sullen Edward both out of town and touch, she becomes even more zombie-like. During lunch at school, she sits alone at Edward’s old table, staring into space. Constantly reminding her of Edward is the fact his image and voice pop up whenever she has any quandary.

Enter a major conflict in her life, long time pal Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). Now that Edward is away, Jacob makes the play. Surely it is not a spoiler to remind (rather than reveal) all that Black is a closet werewolf. In fact, he is part of a werewolf pack who also live alternate human lives. As Bella and Jacob become closer, Edward reappears in the flesh (cold as it is), out of jealousy as well as fear for Bella’s well being. There is a funny scene of the three at a movie theater with Bella sitting between them. Both Edward and Jacob anticipate her holding their hand, to no avail. It is a cleverly subtle moment.

It is unfortunate that most of New Moon lacks such clever bits, since all its psuedo-Shakespearean love dialogue and pre-kiss panting wear thin early on. With too few action pieces like fights (between vampires, between werewolf and vampire, and between werewolves) occur, New Moon stretches longer than it is. We are given an iceberg tip sort of preview of what will happen in next year’s Eclipse installment of the series when Bella, Edward, and his family encounter the head council of vampires in Italy for some life (and death) threatening challenges. Watch for a too brief introduction of Dakota Fanning’s hurtful, red eye piercing vampire, Jane. Reportedly, Jane will reappear big time in Eclipse.

New Moon, under the mediocre direction of Chris Weitz, is more of an event than a satisfying film unto itself. Fans will love the bare chested Jacob and Edward, and Bella’s sleep deprived tossing and turning. One fan defended Jacob’s constant chest baring when she told me it was a necessity since he could turn into a werewolf at any time. If that is true, why is he wearing pants? In fact, his pants disappear and reappear in his back and forth transformations. Must be special wolf weave. Of course, it would change the film’s rating if it were otherwise.

If you are not a Twilight fan, just savor moments like Bella accidentally pricking a finger or a hand or an arm (all occur), as a nearby vampire licks his chops watching the blood drips in slow motion. Try counting the number of times Bella is in either Edward’s or Jacob’s close proximity, as she speaks to their respective CHINS.

Bella is an eye contact avoider of the first order.
On an A to F Grade Scale: C-
Sink a tooth into this New Moon trailer:

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