It was my birthday yesterday and as a treat for myself I went to the cinema to see New Moon, the second in the Twilight series based on the hugely successful books by Stephenie Meyer. I reviewed Twilight, the first film in the series quite a few months ago. It is hard to escape the phenomenon that surrounds this series. In one way, I like it, as vampires and werewolves are now officially "cool" and a whole new audience is being introduced to the genre. On the other hand, what I dislike about this series is that it ignores the horror of being a vampire or a werewolf for a soppy love story firmly aimed at teenage girls. In no way can these books or films be called horror stories.
THE PLOT. The film opens with Bella Swann celebrating her 18th birthday. She wants a quiet affair at home with her vampire lover, Edward Cullen, but Edward's family of vampires have other ideas and so Bella is invited to a party held in her honour at the Cullen household. Things go badly wrong when Bella suffers a paper cut when opening one of her presents causing Jasper, the least experienced vampire to freak out and attack her. It is a pivotal point in the Bella/Edward relationship as it forces Edward to break up with Bella. He and his family depart, leaving Bella heartbroken. She finds solace and a new love with Jacob Black, a friendly neighbour. Bella sure knows how to pick them. It turns out that Jacob is a werewolf and his clan have a long lasting feud with all vampires. Bella catches glimpses of Edward, but only in times of great stress or danger. This causes her to become more and more rash as she becomes almost addicted to thrill rushes, putting her life in peril. One stunt, where she dives from atop a steep cliff almost ends in her drowning but for a timely rescue from Jacob. Alice Cullen, the vampire who can see the future, had a premonition of Bella dying because of the cliff jumping. She rushes back to find out the truth. Due to a misunderstanding Edward believes that Bella really is dead and decides to end his life by revealing himself to be a vampire in an Italian town ruled by the elite of the vampiric society, the Volturi. Cue Bella and Alice in a race to save him.
THE FILM. The cast of the first film all reprise their roles, with the leads played by Kristen Stewart (Bella), Robert Pattinson (Edward), Taylor Lautner (Jacob) and Ashley Greene (Alice). Michael Sheen plays Aro, the leader of the Volturi, who are the vampiric leaders and enforcers of their laws, of which there is only really one - keep the existance of vampires secret from humanity. Catherine Hardwicke passed the directing duties over to Chris Weitz and he does an admirable job with the material. With a running time of 130 minutes, this was quite a long film but never boring.
THE REVIEW. Whatever I say about this film won't alter the fact that it is going to do outstanding business at the box office. Twilight was a huge succes and this looks like it will be an even bigger hit. So my views amount to little but for what it's worth I liked the film in parts but found it lacking as well.
The good points include the introduction of the werewolves to the saga. They look suitably impressive when in wolf form. These critters are are about the size of a grizzly bear and even more lethal in a fight! Apparently, Jacob is the only werewolf who can transform in mid-leap, a very impressive feat. Alice continues to be my favourite character. I just wish she had more screen time. The Volturi were also a welcome addition and you do not want to mess with them, which probably explained why Edward wanted to fulfil his death wish on their home territory. The scenes with the Volturi at the end of the film gave a palpable taste of their true power.
The bad points are that not much really happens. When I saw Twilight for the first time, I hadn't read any of the books so I didn't know what to expect from the film. Now though, I've read the complete saga and in my opinion, New Moon is the weakest out of the four books. As a consequence, I did not have high hopes for the film. Bella and Edward continue to be annoying adolescents. Edward may be over 100 years but my God, he still acts like a pouty teenager. At times I just wanted to bash the pair of them together to knock some sense into their brains. The film sags after Edward departs but picks up when the werewolf clan take out Laurent, one of the three vampire rogues from the first film. This is the first time that Bella sees a werewolf pack but she runs away before witnessing Laurent's demise.
I'll certainly buy the DVD when it comes out and I'll go see the next installment, Eclipse when it is released next year. I rate New Moon 6 out of 10.