Gutenfilm Presents: Twi Hard: New Moon
It was hard to get out of bed this morning. I suspect it has something to do either with a buildup of estrogen from last night’s cavalcade of female teenage emotion (sans the actual “emoting”), although it’s more likely I’m building up a powerful unconscious resistance to Twi Hard. A shower and a cup of coffee later, I was as ready as I ever would be. So I put in New Moon and my Blu-Ray player reluctantly loaded it up.
New Moon takes the horrible overwrought angst from the first film and cranks it to 11. Following an incident at Bella’s birthday party hosted by the Cullens (in which she gets a papercut and a couple of the vampires go crazy) Edward decides to leave. The conversation is “dramatic” and “emotional”, or at least attempts to be, but it’s filled with dialogue that could have only been carefully written by a woman with a serious boyfriend complex. After an extended sequence displaying Bella’s extreme anguish, Bella inadvertently learns that rushes of adrenaline allow her to “see” a phantom Edward that talks to her and stares and does other Edward-y things. She then attempts to do reckless things to get that rush and finds out that those shirtless dudes are actually werewolves. She becomes best friends with one of the werewolves named Jacob who is super in love with her. And then some vampire who was evil in the last movie who later decided to help Bella is suddenly evil again. There’s also a huge conflict between vampires and werewolves (because every movie has to have that now–don’t leave home without it!).
This movie is actually extremely boring, but in a different way from the first film. While the the previous entry had a significant amount of great overacting from Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen, Edward disappears for most of this one, with his spot being filled by Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black, who doesn’t have nearly as much sidesplitting mushy dialogue but does more brooding on his own than an entire cast of a CW television program could ever do. Later on, Jacob tells Edward that Bella is dead so Edward decides to reveal himself to humankind. And there’s an evil vampire order headed by a wonderfully hammy Michael Sheen, whose chewing of the scenery at times rivals that of Gary Oldman in his own villainous roles. There’s also Dakota Fanning, whose power is to make people think they’re in pain. If I was a vampire and that was my power, I would fall onto the nearest wooden stake I could find. After some evil plotting and scheming, Edward tries to fight the evil vampires and gets his ass completely and hilariously handed to him. Then the Voltouri, as the evil vampires are apparently called, suddenly change their mind about killing Bella and the Cullens vote to eventually change Bella into a vampire so she can have sex with Edward, and Jacob broods some more Edward proposes and roll credits and why the hell am I subjecting myself to this.
AND THE EMOTION HOLY CRAP. Bella is every crazy ex- and current girlfriend, every adolescent emotion, every codependence complex, and every obsessive pathology wrapped up into one borderline psychopathic, masochistic young woman. After Edward leaves there is not only a time lapse of Bella sitting in her chair for apparently three solid months, but also a montage of her laying in bed screaming as if she were giving birth (which now that I think about it is either a really horrible display of emotion or the absolute best use of foreshadowing in a film franchise ever). At the same time, Kristen Steward fails to actually emote properly throughout most of the film. She has a strange blankness in her eyes, an emptiness that just sucks all emotion into a void. She just…stares, and her characterization (which I believe is meant to create a template for fans to apply their own personalities onto or some nonsense) is like oil and water with the extreme attempts at emotion that the rest of the film makes.
New Moon opens with another horrible camera movement, twisting ninety degrees and then panning down. I thought that with Chris Weitz taking over as director, we would be done with these, but certainly not. I have to give him a little bit of credit for attempting some artful techniques. He attempts some creative shots here and does admittedly dial back the inexplicable panning, but it’s still very overdone and almost self-indulgent. It does taper back in the middle of the film, but when it’s not trying to be artsy, it goes to the other extreme and becomes lazy and boring.
This is becoming a deeply unpleasant endeavor. While the films are completely entertaining in their camp and absurdity, every moment that is not really goofy is relentlessly dull and extremely irritating. At times the series almost feels like a joke, an elaborate and expensive parody filled to the brim with in-jokes intended for the legion of non-fans. Other times, the slavish devotion to the details and tone of the books is almost unbearable. The former is barely managing to outweigh the latter, and I march onward to Eclipse later tonight.