Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Twilight – New Moon Review

newmoon Ok, I have been resisting reviewing New Moon until I have had a chance to think about it a little. First I have read all the books and overall liked them. New Moon is the slowest of the books because of what it deals with. Mainly Bella’s ‘loss’ after Edward rather abruptly dumps her and then the growing friendship between Bella and Jacob. However what keeps the book interesting is the development of the Werewolf arc. Jacobs fear at what is happening to his friends and then to what is happening to him and eventually how that works itself out once Bella knows the ‘secret’. You also have some sympathy with what Bella is going through as the book is told from her perspective. Even with her ‘using’ Jacob in the way she does there is ‘some’ sympathy towards her character even when she is at her most selfish.

However the biggest flaw to the way the story is translated to film is that she comes across as totally selfish in the way she uses Jacob as a distraction to her pain and her recklessness in endangering herself just to feel something again. Because the film has no time to explain the emotion, the dialogue is too forced when it tries and Kristen Stewart pouts her way through every scene the whole thing gets lost in the process. The film version of Bella has no real redeeming features that make it believable that Jacob or Edward would actually stick around. Also the Werewolf arc is too minimal and all happens too fast to make any coherent sense if you haven’t read the book.

The final act of the film is a little better. Though the jump to Italy again happens too fast losing all the explanations about the Volturi that Alice gives Bella on the way. I think they are explained in about once sentence in the film. The most interesting part of the story given in a throw away line. It is when Michael Sheen, playing Aro, appears on screen that you get an idea about how weak the rest of the cast are acting wise. The same can be said for Billy Burke who plays Bella’s father actually, he does a great job in both films as the awkward Dad. Anyway back to Aro. Michael Sheen is such a good actor and makes the character of Aro very close to the book. The cordial and slimy friendliness hiding the dangerous, controlling, ruthless and power hungry desires underneath. Hmm I wonder where he got so good at that. Oh yes he has played Tony Blair on screen!!!!! In fact I think they are the same character, interesting.

This film was always going to be difficult to make. The subject matter is hard to translate. The first film, though not in any way perfect, was reasonable at setting up the story. Bella’s attraction to the dangerous out of her league bad boy. His attraction to Bella with her intriguing ability to block his special ability and put her on more equal footing with him. Their denial of their sexual desires and self control. I came out of New Moon having enjoyed it, but on reflection mainly because I filled in all the blanks having read the book. I got it, not because of the film but because of the book. This is Bella’s most selfish and unlikeable stage of her journey. Sadly the film makes it her only characteristic. Robert Pattinson is ok as Edward. He does dark and brooding well but there is more to the character than that. Taylor Lautner did well as Jacob given what he had to work with.

Overall could do much better! It will be interesting to see how the next two translate to film, especially Breaking Dawn. I hope Kristen Stewart and the script shows how Bella grows up somewhat and makes her less drippy. It will be good to see how the rest of the actors playing the Cullen clan step up to plate as they have much more to do in the next two films. No idea how they will make Breaking Dawn less than a 15 given some of its content.

I hope the next films bring out the self denial, respect and no sex before marriage points from the books. That although Bella is verging on the obsessive in her ‘love’ for Edward the story is really about a love that nothing can break. Two people so devoted to each other that they will do whatever it takes to stay together. The character of Bella gets a lot of stick from people, especially some women. The film makes it reasonable criticism. However I am not sure the books represent her as such a winy doormat.

I think it is interesting how on the one hand so many women love the books, yet on the other Stephenie Meyer is criticised for writing what is seen as a weak female character. At the risk of being lynched could it be that underneath women do actually want to be protected, provided and cared for. Want someone so devoted to them who is actually willing to die for them and sacrifice their feelings and desires for the good of her. Who want the proverbial Knight in Shining Armour to sweep them off their feet. For all the criticism of Bella I think Edwards character in the book, though not perfect is a good example for men, apart from the drinking blood bit. Self sacrificial, a gentleman, protective, devoted, honourable, reliable etc… I think that is what Stephenie Meyer has tapped into and why the books are so popular. Not that women should be doormats, but that it is a Man’s God given role to lead, provide for and protect the family as a self-sacrificial servant, like Jesus does the Church.

Any way as much as I enjoyed watching the film it was disappointing as well. Cheesy in places with some awkward acting and badly crafted dialogue. Special effects were on the whole very good except one or two very CGI looking shots of the werewolves. I hope they learn lessons and listen to the fans and do better next time.

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