So I’ve just gone and seen New Moon, or as I like to call it “Twilight 2: The Reckoning”. Let’s get the basics out of the way, I’m male and straight (enough) and I’ve seen the first movie and read the entire series of books. To be fair, I didn’t actually know what I was getting into when I idly picked up the first book and because Stephanie Meyers words are somewhat akin to girlishly coated white china heroin, I read the rest.
So I’ve enjoyed the book series, I found it to be well written and with a full and complete story arc that ends in a satisfying and somewhat surprising manner. I’m also well aware that Stephanie Meyers is a filthy mormon and is using the outmoded beliefs of her childish religion to create angst and sexual tension like never before. Apparently though, it worked. This being the first time Hollywood has not rammed a sex scene into a non-comedy romance. So on with the review.
It’s hard to summarize or review the 2nd movie without acknowledging the first. The casting of which is nearly pitch perfect. However I found the direction of the first movie to be lacking in personality and life, as it played out mainly as a word-for-word reading of the book as a script with beautiful but stoic actors and actresses. Not to mention Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan) seems to consist mainly of stuttering, apoplexy and migraines throughout the first movie. Now the second iteration is released upon a veritable ocean of squealing girls and shy and ashamed men. I found it to be largely more enjoyable.
In this movie, **PLOT SPOILERS AHEAD** Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen) as the broody perfect gentleman vampire, realizes that his very existence places his lady love in danger, after a paper cut during a birthday scene almost ends in disaster with his blood-lusting family. Ever the noble matyr, Edward decides his lifestyle is too dangerous for Bella to endure as a human and leaves her broken hearted with his (lied) assurance that he no longer loves her and will “disappear from her life forever”. Bella, lost in a massive whirlpool of sorrow turns in her desperation to Jacob, the Native American supermodel/mechanic (Taylor Lautner), who manages to brighten her life slightly with his carefree and upbeat attitude. He of course falls rapidly in love with the heavily damaged and rebounding Bella and she keeps him at arms length while using him as an emotional crutch to perform dangerous stunts. These dangerous stunts present visions of the erstwhile Edward, who warns her to not harm herself, whether this is completely in her mind or some real telepathic link to Edward (direct from angst-ville) is never quite explained.
The situation is complicated somewhat by the fact that Jacob is revealed to be a Werewolf and that several members of his tribe are also his “pack”. Furthermore, the female antagonist Victoria, having survived her mates destruction in the first movie is still hellbent on revenge and plans to kill the relatively unprotected Bella. Though the part of Victoria is largely unspoken in this movie she remains only a shadowy menace represented mainly by dirty looks and threatening poses. The real story is Bella’s mutual but distant love for Jacob and increasingly dangerous activities. This culminates in a cliff-diving scene where Edwards psychic sister foretells her death (incorrectly) and Edward finds out and plans to kill himself as a result.
Edward throws himself at the mercy of the Volturi, an ancient Italian group of vampires who all possess superpowers of some type or another. Making them the dirty X-men of the Twilight Universe. They refuse to kill Edward and so he concocts a plan to break the Volturi’s main law, which is secrecy, by exposing himself as a vampire and subsequently getting himself killed in retaliation. Bella and Alice race to Italy to prevent this and lo and behold, manage to save Edward. But not without first attracting the attention of the Volturi leaders who insist she must be made a vampire or die.
The story comes to a close with Edward back in the game and Jacob scorned and angry as Bella looks forward to becoming a Vampire.
The lengthy plot is revealed, and while this covers the real happening of the movie it’s important to note a few things. For one, Jacob, being a much more primary character and admirably acted by Taylor Lautner is also reduced to little more than female pornography by existing for 90 percent of the 130 minute runtime with no shirt on, appearing as though he probably breaks a Bowflex machine before breakfast. With rippling abs and overexaggerated muscles, intended to convey that his new Werewolf metabolism is greatly increased, he becomes more of a constant sight gag. Making girls (ranging age 14-40) Sigh and giggle constantly, as the first real equivalent of female driven porn, worms its way onto mainstream cinema. Between the wolf and abs ‘other guy’ and the dark mysterious pale leading man, this is several of the most popular female fantasies colliding in a stew that literally leaves men (or at least me) feeling distant and uncomfortable.
That’s not to say the movie is bad. I found it to be well paced, funny, and have some genuinely inspired fight scenes that leave you wincing in pain for these characters. There are some things that worked for the first movie that barely deserved a glance in this one though. The casting of her friends from high school become rapidly more irrelevant in this movie and one is led to wonder why they continue to put up with Bella’s whiny ever gloomy and dismissive attitude. It doesn’t help that these friends have very little chemistry with each other and are obviously hand picked to provide racial diversity in the cold northwestern US, where Blacks, Asians, and Puerto Ricans are not yet invented. Much less goofy friends, linked to each other only by their tenuous ability to swallow Bella’s constant emotional shitstorm.
Bella’s dad Charlie (Billy Burke) as a picture perfect Chief Swan impressed with his depth and range in the first movie. He is unfortunately relegated to a role of constant unbelievable acceptance of his daughters massive mood swings and acts of rebellion and self-endangerment. While it’s possible that most parents are little more effectual than Charlie, it’s difficult to swallow that he’s both caring and apathetic to what is essentially full blown schizophrenic behavior courtesy of the slightly less stuttery Kristen Stewart.
From a male point of view, all the female characters in this movie are beautiful and fairly well acted, however they remain the only people sensibly bundled under what, by contrast, seems like acres of clothing. The females remain simple almost indistinct and generally forgettable, as the focus is clearly on our leading lady and her Olympic sized swimming pool of testosterone resulting from 2 chiseled male competitors. All in all, I would say this movie more effectively delivers the drama of the book than the first and is worth watching and enjoying for either male or females, but it’s very obviously directed toward the latter.
For those of you that aren’t fans of the series, I can summarize the movie in another, more humorous way:
The scared-of-blood vampire Edward, watches his girlfriend get a paper cut and breaks up with her, forcing her to gain hallucinogenic highs while cockteasing a werewolf until she attempts suicide, forcing her ex-boyfriend to beg the Italian X-men to kill him, resulting in a high speed chase and culminating in a dick-waving contest between 2 sets of differently toned bodybuilders, which they both inevitably lose because in this twlight/pokemon universe, abstinence is awesome and everyone’s pretty much fine with a manic depressive pushing their buttons.
So with one review, or the other, I leave you. Probably to either profess your deep hatred for this book/movie series you’ve never read or watched, or to watch the damn movie again, because the boys are SO cute.
I’ll be over here vomiting in this bucket, but giving this movie a solid 4 out of 5 stars for some great effects, performances and a pretty well written “Bodice Ripper” come to life.