Wednesday, 25 November 2009

New Moon

Soulless ...

As her 18th birthday approaches, Bella (Kristen Stewart) is finding it difficult to live a life where she would eventually become old while Edward (Robert Pattinson) retains his youth. When Bella's small birthday affair at the Cullen household threatens Bella's life, Edward decides that it is best if he leaves her fearing that he is causing her unnecessary danger. This results in Bella falling into a deep depression which her friend, Jacob (Taylor Lautner), hopes to relieve her from.

Continuing the novel adaptation of the Twilight saga, New Moon is a misfit of sorts in the series thus far. Regardless of how accurately the novel is followed, the narrative appears to present little new or different from the story presented in Twilight. Bella is still a sad and pathetic person who needs the love of someone else to keep her going. Instead of Edward being her source of love, it is Jacob this time around. And like the first film, Bella's life is under threat from a handful of vampires, and these happen to contain the remainder of the original group from Twilight. In essence, New Moon is just Twilight wrapped up in new skin, arguably paler this time, and it will feel like this for a good chunk of the film until the introduction of the Volturi, the royalty of vampires. This small arc in the film definitely ramps up the narrative into more interesting territory outside the lifeless romance of before, and the characters this romance entailed. Though the story does have one thing going for it and that is humour, and the genuine kind to boot. The film is constantly comedic enough that you may even forget that it was meant to be a tragic romance of sorts akin to Romeo and Juliet, which the narrative blatantly tries to intertextualise with. Inevitably, the story has little substance and feels like a bridge between Twilight and the remaining sequels to come. This is because all the intriguing mythology added to the series in New Moon, such as the Volturi and werewolves, contribute nothing to the film but rather that they could be useful for the sequels.

The acting is largely a better affair in the Twilight sequel but this mostly comes in the form of the lesser characters. Of the lot the more noticeable supporting performances come from the charm of Ashley Greene, the acute coldness of Dakota Fanning, and that rather mysterious elegance of Michael Sheen as the Volturi leader Aro. Of the three protagonists, it is only Lautner who makes any commendable effort at acting: he starts off rather low-key but gets himself into a decent position. It is disastrously unfortunate that neither Stewart nor Pattinson become anything more than simply dull. Both their respective characters are meant to be pained at the loss of being separated from one another but they always appear somewhat bored when in scenes together and show little conviction in their emotions. On the other hand, Stewart's scenes with Lautner have more going for them even when Stewart loses her gaze to Lautner's abs.

Director Chris Wietz brings a commercial feel to New Moon which was lacking in Twilight, yet New Moon ultimately feels less unique than Catherine Hardwicke's efforts. This does not help the film in any way as it has less going for it than its predecessor did. Music is a love-hate affair: it feels way too forced in helping create a certain mood that at times the music feels oddly misplaced. The special effects are much improved and now look far from awkward. While the CG is never overly convincing, it is integrated well enough as to not be a distraction.

For a film based on vampire romance, New Moon is pretty sexless in appeal beyond Lautner being shirtless. There is the odd use of mild language and while violence is more abundant than in Twilight, it is never harrowing enough considering the vampire and werewolf mythology.

While somewhat enjoyable, New Moon lacks identity and this is solely based on the fact that it does little to enhance the Twilight formula. Richer mythology is added; the quality of acting has increased in the overall cast; and the special effects have undergone a needed retuning. But like Edward so blandly points about himself, the film lacks a soul. The brewing romance between Bella and Edward is lifeless with a general lack of development throughout all the characters. Likewise, the narrative never really seems to head in any viable direction and it is up to the lesser characters to get the film's blood pumping.


Screen date: 24 November 2009
Release date: 27 November 2009