amongst hardcore fans of the Twilight Series usually comes
down to one dichotomy: Team Edward or Team Jacob? This would
lead all the ladies out there to believe that, unless you
want to date a queasy townie, you have to choose between
the sexy but emotionally distant dreamboat, or the hunky
and dedicated, but potentially abusive dreamboat. Good luck
New Moon finds Bella (Kristen Stewart, who, with
her meal-ticket movie franchise and sly, corner-mouth grin,
must act quickly lest she become the Neve Campbell of the
Aughts) is worried that she will grow old and ugly as compared
to her vampire beau, Edward (Robert Pattinson) and wants
desperately to become a vampire. Bella is further frustrated
by the fact that Edward refuses to be physically intimate
with her for fear that he would kill her in his, um, excitement.
a paper-cut incident where her vampire friends behave like,
well, vampires, Edward decides that he and his clan should
skip town in part to protect Bella. Devastated by Edward's
departure, Bella becomes the most boring adrenaline junky
ever and starts hanging around the hunky slice of boy-beefcake,
Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who turns out to have secrets of
his own. In the end, Bella must choose which broody boy
she wants to be with.
Like most modern versions of vampires and werewolves for
tweens, this movie does not explore the creatures as you're
likely familiar with them. The ability to turn into a werewolf,
for example, is inherited, and has nothing to do with the
lunar cycle. Turning into a wolf is instead triggered either
by choice or involuntarily by anger.
movie concerns itself most with the romantic counterparts
of the guys, the downside of dating a werewolf is illustrated
by the scarred wife of a member of the pack who was too
close when he got angry once. While the movie forgoes any
potential insight into the werewolf / puberty transformation
like in the indie horror Ginger Snaps, it does,
interestingly, take a split second to ruminate on the nature
of violence as an inherited disposition and the effect it
has on the children, associates, and spouses of potentially
The story is treated with a harlequin-lite tone, and, like
the tweens it's designed to enthrall, the movie spends more
time ruminating about what happens when the leading guys
take their shirts off than it does developing any heady
themes. Becoming a werewolf, for example, apparently means
developing both a well-toned upper body and an allergy to
shirts. Either that or werewolves chose "skins"
over "shirts" when picking sides in the vampire
versus werewolf battle.
vampires shimmer like an overcompensating stripper in the
the sunlight, a trait that Edward seeks to use to threaten
to expose vampires to the world by, you guessed it, taking
his shirt off in order to compel the vampire nobles to kill
him in an act of romantic suicide.
This is not to say that the hunkiness is a fault, per se.
I spent over two and a half hours largely enjoying the combination
of teenage-boy fantasy and wargasm that Michael Bay presented
Revenge of the Fallen last summer. I can be the
first to admit that the first shot of Megan Fox straddling
a motorcycle to airbrush the gas tank is absolutely no different
than Taylor Lautner deftly removing his shirt to gingerly
dab Bella's wounds. In its own perverse way, New Moon
should be applauded for giving the girls something to fawn
over that as potentially mindless as the normal guy fare,
but not as obviously mean-spirited.
The backbone of the Twilight story is the infatuation that
Bella and Edward share, and Pattinson and Stewart have a decent
enough chemistry, but the implications of a relationship between
an 18 year-old girl and a 109 year-old vampire are creepy
no matter how you slice it. I could ruminate about the metaphorical
implications of the story, but it's been done excellently
already elsewhere. Suffice to say that, when
the Twilight Saga is subjected to feminist criticism, it holds
up only slightly better than Mein Kampf.
Even if you set aside your ardor or contempt for the theme
and Saga aside, what you're left with is still a fairly
disappointing movie. Bella, who needs to be the emotional
anchor and barometer for the movie, is played by Stewart
with a depressed and angsty forlorn stare that bounces back
and forth between numb and lost. It inexplicably seems as
though she's literally swimming through the Washington state
air. (Though in her defense, it does seem to rain often
in Forks, WA.) Add to that the fact that Stewart plays emotional
pain with a heavy-hand as physical pain and you've got a
Bella that's just as isolated from the audience as her friends.
For all the movement, gesticulation, and emoting in the movie,
the story never really goes anywhere. In contrast to the recent
Cirque du Freak
movie, where three books were awkwardly crammed into one movie,
New Moon seems like it needed another book's worth
of plot to flesh it out and actually tell a complete story.
The only part of the plot with any real danger or tension
to it is a continuation of events from the first Twilight
movie that serves as a placeholder before the next movie.
New Moon is the literary equivalent of Stephanie
Meyer, the Saga's creator, saying, "Hold on, I'm still
thinking of the next one."
The fact of the matter is that if you're a twihard, none
of this matters, anyway. You will see, or have already seen,
this movie and will enjoy it. If you're still sitting on
the outside of the Twilight Saga cultural phenomenon, get
comfortable. There's absolutely nothing this wooden, go-nowhere
movie is going to do to convince you to get on board. Maybe
the promised vampire on vampire on werewolf fights in the
next one will bring more guys around, but I'm going to go
ahead and keep my shirt on, anyway.