Quint has seen the latest installment of the Twilight Saga!
Published at: Nov. 19, 2009, 1:57 p.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Growing up a movie geek I always read the reviews in the local newspaper (as a kid it was the San Jose Mercury News and as a teen The Austin Chronicle or Austin American Statesman) and would always feel a little frustrated when the reviewer obviously didn’t like the type of film they’re reviewing, specifically genre titles, yet they review it anyway without admitting any bias.
So I say right up front that these movies and, I would assume, Stephanie Meyer’s books aren’t exactly my cup of tea. But it’s not this genre. I like romance movies, even teen romance tales. I’m a sucker for John Hughes and Cameron Crowe. More than anything it seems like what the TWILIGHT movies are trying to be is today’s equivalent of PRETTY IN PINK or SAY ANYTHING, but with a supernatural bent. I mean, Billy Burke’s Papa Swan character is pretty much built on the one great father/daughter scene between Paul Dooley and Molly Ringwald in SIXTEEN CANDLES.
With all that said I hope I don’t fall into the same category of douchbag critics I was frustrated with as a youngin’ by reviewing this film.
I thought the first Twilight movie was horrible filmmaking (sorry Ms. Hardwicke, but you know that ridiculous circular forest shot where the characters literally wait to finish a line until the camera moves completely around them was a horrible idea) built on a very simple, if unoriginal, story.
It’s easy to say New Moon is a better movie, but it’s still a soap opera. The problem is it seems nobody making the movie knows it, which leads to a lot of unintentional comedy. In a weird way this movie almost plays like a spoof of itself (how else do you explain the roving six-pack wolf gang?) yet both Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson play the melodrama so seriously that they don’t realize how comical it comes off.
And I’m not the only one who thinks that. Even the die-hard fans at tonight’s screening, the teenage girls, middle-aged women and those in between, were laughing at the movie. Not with the movie, mind you, but at it. There’s a moment where we get a glimpse at the future thanks to Alice Cullen (Ashley Greene) that was essentially a slow-motion shot of Edward and Bella running through a field that was so cheesy it was getting cat-calls from the same people who were whooping and hollering at the start, cheering at the title and clapping every time Taylor Lautner took off his shirt (which was about every other scene).
I totally understand the argument that we geeks have stuff like Star Wars, Iron Man and The Dark Knight to get excited about, but there’s a difference in the fan culture. There seems to be a guilty pleasure vibe to the Twilight movies. I heard “I loved it!” as I left the theater from the same people who were laughing at the movie.
Judge its fans I do not. I just don’t understand them.
My job as a movie reviewer and as a movie fan is to judge the film as it is and while there is a lot of production value in New Moon the parts that work don’t overcome the parts that do.
And there are pieces I did like. The Volturi, which is the kind of high vampire court presided over by the scenery chewing Michael Sheen, is a cool idea and while she’s only in it for about 3 minutes I think it’s kinda brilliant to cast Dakota Fanning as a vampire before she’s all growed up since she’s always seemed older than her years anyway.
I also love Graham Greene’s Indian character, Harry Clearwater, a kind of keeper of the werewolves, but the dude maybe has 2 lines in this particular movie. I think my appreciation of him has little to do with his character and a lot to do with just loving Greene as an actor.
The other Greene (Ashley) is again a stand-out as the bubbly, likable Cullen and Peter Facinelli has one really good scene as he stitches up Bella after an accident. But like most that is good in this movie he’s limited to a scene or two.
Lautner isn’t bad as Jacob, but I must confess I liked him a lot more when he was the long-haired Duckie to Stewart’s Andie Walsh than when he turned into the serious-face washboard-abs Calvin Klein werewolf.
My overall problem with this series isn’t just that we’ve seen every inch of this story told before, but that we’ve seen it told so much better than it is here. The love triangle is an old tale, but when you connect with the characters it works. I thought Stewart was adorable in ADVENTURELAND and INTO THE WILD, but in these movies I just don’t buy her character.
That may be more of a fault of the books than of the screenwriters or Stewart herself, but it’s a problem nonetheless. And Edward isn’t any better. By design Pattinson can’t show off the charm he showed as Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which hurts the romance as Edward comes off more dickish and creepy than in love.
I've come to realize that the center of the Twilight Saga is a romance between two people I don’t like.
Which is probably why I enjoyed this movie a little bit more than the first one because at least with Jacob there’s some real warmth as his loyalty and caring helps crack Bella out of her morose Emo state.
The pacing is also a problem. The story is structured in such a way that nothing big really happens until the very end of the movie, but it’s not like the preceding plot points lead up to it in any sort of building way.
Because the werewolves are such a big part of the marketing, those unfamiliar with the books are still a good hour ahead of the movie when it starts. It’s frustrating waiting for Bella to catch up to us as she seems to ignore every big hint as to what Jacob is until she actually sees him change.
There’s a myriad of logic issues and plot holes I could dwell on and even though the kneejerk instinct is to point and laugh, making snide comments about the magical reappearing jean shorts on the werewolves when in human form, I’ll leave that to the other 98% of internet critics.
The real problem with the movie above all else is that failed connection to Edward and Bella. Especially Bella. I’m an easy target for romance and have a few billion crushes thanks to that vulnerability, but not here. With two movies all I see in Bella is an attractive, but mopey and selfish girl. That’s not enough for a romance to work, at least not for me.
From the things I hear about the David Slade-directed Eclipse I think I might like the next installment in the Twilight Saga, but more for the horror aspect, which was just touched upon briefly in this movie. This series could use more horror and less melodrama. We’ll see what we get.
Okay, back to work on the Holiday Gift Guide. Also look for my interview with the legendary Werner Herzog and the results of the Bad Lieutenant poster contest to hit soon!
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