First, the cold hard facts:
I’ve never read any of the Twilight books. I didn’t see the first movie until October of this year. I did, however, let my oldest female friend drag me to the sequel last night and I’m not sorry.
That’s right. I’m not sorry I saw New Moon or contributed my $10.99 CAD to its overwhelming financial success. According to some people, I should be sorry. For a variety of reasons. First, this is a shitty movie. Well let’s talk about that a bit.
Is New Moon really a shitty movie? I don’t think so. But then, we’re so bored of vampires that we’re starting to demand truly high-concept or high-quality or at least novel vampire movies in order to accept them. Stuff like Let the Right One In is acceptable to us because it’s a great movie but we have to admit that, on some level, we also consider it a worthy vampire movie because it gives us some newish material and insights into the old traditions of filmic vampirism.
The Twilight series’ main innovation is to add vampires who turn into disco balls when sunlight hits them. Okay, no one is crazy about that nor should they be. Everything else is fairly straightforward, even recycling some elements of the teenage vampire romance which we’ve seen or read before (in my case, Twilight has some shit in common with The Lost Boys and Buffy). We can malign it for its lack of originality. We can declare it at some lower plane of existence compared to something like Let the Right One In. I’m okay with that. I heartily agree, in fact.
But again, is this a shitty movie? No. And it actually is quite a sight better than the first one.
Technically, it follows from its predecessor with some outstanding cinematography and excellent use of its New England (?) geography, especially the forests and coasts that make up so many of the movie’s settings. It manages a couple of interesting sequences as well, namely the scene where the camera spins slowly around Bella, motionless, as several months pass. But more than this, the last part of the Victoria chase beginning with a stunning overhead shot.
The film also uses music well and the soundtrack is pretty interesting, considering. It could easily be made up of pop music crap like so many teen-aimed genre movies (most comic book movies have atrocious soundtracks). Returning to how the music is used, there are many well-chosen songs placed around the more interesting sequences, most particularly the two I mention above.
While the melodramatic scenes between Eddie and Izzy are fucking painful, there is also some decent acting. Or, at least, likable people occupying harmless roles. Particularly, the teen cast of Bella’s school friends have come into their own. Kristen Stewart is still slumming it, but Taylor Lautner has excellent presence even if his voice detracts somewhat. Where the cast shines, even Stewart and Pattinson, is in the moments of levity. There is a sense of humor in this movie which I was surprised and pleased to find in Twilight as well, when I saw it. Even though some laughs come at this movie’s expense (the slow-motion Edward Cullen glamour walk, gratuitous wolf-boy toplessness, that fucking scene of Bella and Edward running together as vampires, etc)… there are more than a few that are come by honestly.
So we’ve covered some technical stuff and even some acting stuff. So far, it’s not great, but we can see that it isn’t as mindlessly awful as many romantic comedies. There is thought behind some of this stuff, which wouldn’t normally be enough to engender a defense if not for the ferocity with which New Moon‘s merits as a movie have been attacked.
I mean, come on. This is a pop music vampire movie. This is Britney Spears or, better yet, N’Sync. This isn’t fucking Dylancula. And I’m not saying we should accept the movie(s) because they “aren’t so bad”. Feel free to dislike them. That isn’t my problem. Let’s just try to be fair and recognize that just because the concept isn’t original, the melodrama is nauseating, the misogyny is stupidly aggravating, doesn’t mean this movie is total poison. Like some have said, male-aimed “popcorn” movies get away with a lot of the same stuff, sometimes even worse.
For a discussion on the underlying philosophy of these books/movies you can refer to threads on the CHUD boards or my next blog which will discuss my thoughts on that stuff. As a preview, know that I will not be so forgiving.