The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)
By: J.R. McNamara on May 3, 2010  | 
DVD
Sony | Region B | 2.35:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | 125 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Chris Weitz
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene, Anna Kendrick
Screenplay: Melissa Rosenberg
Country: USA
External Links
IMDB Purchase YouTube
So folks, here we are again, back in Twilight territory with the second film in the series: New Moon. This film is based on the book of the same name by Stephanie Meyer, whose prose has become an unstoppable phenomenon. The two leads, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart have become paparazzi gods, whose appearance on the cover of any weekly woman's magazine guarantees a sell-out and much gossip at the water cooler, or the ladies room, or where-ever les femme geek like to hang out and talk about this kind of stuff. I must point out that I have not read the books, and so I won't be entering into any book vs film debate over which has a better representation of the characters, and that I am reviewing the film only. 

To newcomers, essentially the Twilight series is a romantic tale of a young couple trying to come to terms with their differences so their love can blossom. Their differences though are more than racial or spiritual: she is human, whilst he is a vampire. Shades of Buffy and Angel? For sure, and let's face it, Angel's tortured character was lifted from Anne Rice's Louis. While I love aspects of traditional vampire characters, I am no fan of the current crop of 'modern' vampires. I have no comprehension as to why someone who lives forever would be so depressed about it. I believe the vampires from The Lost Boys had the right idea. Live fast, forever!
 
In New Moon, our story starts with Bella (Kristin Stewart) completely at odds with her humanity, and what being mortal means when one is in a relationship with an immortal, her angst being especially heightened by the fact that she has turned 18, a year older than what her vampire boyfriend Edward (Robert Pattinson) was when he was turned.

Edward's sister Alice (Ashley Greene) invites Bella to a party at the Cullen residence, the Cullens all being vampires who have chosen to no longer feast on human blood, and instead take the blood of animals. At the party to celebrate Bella's birthday, whilst opening her gift, Bella gets what has to be the world's worst paper cut, which causes Alice's male counterpart Jasper (Jackson Rathbone), the more recently turned of the Cullens, to freak out and attack her.

Edward of course saves the day, but this then leads him to ponder that Bella would be safer away from him and his family, and he loves her too much to continue to have her life put at risk. Especially whilst she remains a human. Why doesn't he simply make her immortal you may ask? Well according to the leader of the clan, Doctor Carlisle Cullen (Peter Facinelli), he doesn't wish to change her as it means not only killing the one he loves, but also cursing her to exist without her soul, a loss he is not sure is worth it.

Edward and the Cullen's make the decision to leave the township of Forks, and leave Bella safely behind, which of course completely devastates the girl, and leaves her to face life alone as an absolute worthless husk, blanking out her entire life for 3 months and screaming nightly in her terrorized dreams.

With Edward gone however, it gives childhood friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner) an opportunity to cut Edward's grass and get into her good graces, and no doubt with any luck, her pants as well.

Bella has discovered though that putting herself in reckless situations inspires visions of Edward warning her to stop her dangerous behaviour, and so she becomes somewhat of an adrenalin junkie in order to inspire these visions and at least still have some semblance of contact with Edward. This is all much to Jacob's happiness as this makes Bella come to him with some busted trail bikes, hoping he can fix them, meaning of course that they can now spend much more time together.

Eventually, after 1 hour of boring relationship crap, Victoria (Rochelle Lefavre) returns to get vengeance on Bella after Edward killed her mate James in the first film. She is initially approached by Victoria's friend Laurent (Edi Gethegi) who decides that without the protection of the Cullens that perhaps he should consume Bella himself. He begins his attack when suddenly he is descended upon by several gigantic wolves, who pursue him through the forest, and eventually kill him.

We soon discover that the Native American clan of which Jacob is a member, have a recessive gene that causes some of the men to turn into werewolves when vampires are present, and Jacob is one of the vampire hating furballs himself!! So what is Bella to do? Now that Edward is gone, should she settle with Jacob, an equally terrifying monster, but at least still human and breathing?

On no, what will she do?!?

My first thought when I saw this was that now she has a vampire and a werewolf suitor, and we have two films left, will she have a Mummy and a Frankenstein's monster by the end of them? 
 
My first real comment on this film is that director Chris Weitz, whose previous film The Golden Compass is a favourite of mine, has replaced the lushness that Catherine Hardwicke gave the first film with a 'moist' look, and they are not the same thing! Hardwicke and her Director of Photography made the first film look more like a travelogue, and the wilderness was so fresh you could almost smell it, whereas Weitz's picture looks like, and I quote the character of Alice Cullen here, "it smells of wet dog".
 
My usual criticism remains on this film that I had for Twilight: it's not for horror fans, and Meyer's ideas have all been done better before: forbidden love from Romeo and Juliet (which this film does pay credit to), parliaments/controlling bodies of vampires like in the Blade series, Vampires vs Werewolves, like in the White Wolf series of role playing games and card games... not to mention the Underworld series, really the list goes on. I don't mean to single out Meyer in this, J.K. Rowling is another exceptional example of taking classic elements and combining them in a way that manipulates people out of heaps of their money, but if you stand up this tall, you need to be tough enough to receive the criticism as well.

I also have to take a massive swipe at the CGI in this film. In a word: horrible. I understand that cinema requires an element of suspension of disbelief, but to be suspended this high for this long is unfair. Some of the CGI elements in this film are deplorable. I am no detractor of CGI, but I do believe if you can do something with traditional methods, you should do them. The werewolf in An American werewolf in London was far more believable than the wolves in this film. They moved, at times, in a way that revealed them to be fake, and no matter what anyone says, as of the date this review has been published, I have only seen realistic CGI hair in one film: Jim Cameron's Avatar. It doesn't stop there though, there is a particular scene of Bella cliff jumping that shows some horrible CGI waves as well. Films like this make it hard for me to defend CGI against those who truly hate it.

Another point I have to pick on in this film is it suffers from Back to the Future 2 syndrome. It finishes on such a cliff-hanger, that even I almost agreed to go to a midnight session of Eclipse just to find out what happens. Almost, but not quite.
 
I can't completely hang nothing but crap on this film as it did have its high points. Jackson Rathbone's portrayal of Jasper is nowhere near as ridiculous as it was in Twilight, though his hairdo looks like Ronald McDonald's wig raped Wolverine's toupee and they had a mutated lovechild. Billy Burke's characterisation of Charlie is far better than the two dimensional cranky man he played in the first one, and his fatherly warmth towards Bella comes through. Actually most of the cast acted well, considering the terrible script by Melissa Rosenberg. I must admit to also enjoying the ephebophiliac comment Bella makes about how 'creepy' it is for a man of over 100 years old is going out with an 18 year old.
 
One thing I do have to point out though, for the true horror fan, is if you do find yourself watching this film, keep an ear open for Bella's friend Jessica's (played by Anna Kendrick) commentary on the current state of zombie films: classic!

Video
The quality of the image on Blu-ray is outstanding. It is presented in 2.35:1 and is so detailed that it reveals every badly conceived CGI wolf and for the girls, every vein in Taylor Lautner's throbbing biceps.
Audio
The audio is in DTS HD master Audio 5.1 and sounds fabulous. The sound effect track is perfect; the incidental music is of a wonderfully high standard and the hyper-cool, alternative music track is so crisp you can almost hear the lead singer of all the bands present slitting their wrists to celebrate their continuous woe. I imagine if you buy this soundtrack, and can throw around names like Muse, Lykke Li and Death Cab for Cutie, you will be the coolest dude in school, due to your high level of alternative-ness.
Extra Features
What appears to be a great set of extras, ends up being fairly self-congratulatory and masturbatory rubbish. Almost every extra features a section with either a) a nerdy girl at a convention yelling either 'Team Edward', 'Team Jacob' or the utterly lazy 'Woooohoooooooo!' or one of the cast members talking about how much they loved the film, the fans, their fellow cast members etc. Taylor Lautner seems to be particularly guilty of this. I don't think this young man has the capacity to hate at all!!
 
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse Exclusive Sneak Peek I imagine would have been the first thing true fans of the series would have looked at. Tragically what it revealed to me was the completely gorgeous Rachelle LeFavre has been replaced in the role of Victoria by Bryce Dallas Howard and that it will be directed by David Slade, whose two previous films were 30 Days of Night and Hard Candy, so I guess he knows how to make films about vampires and how to handle teenage girls.
 
Interview with the Volturi
is a selection of interviews, with a not so clever name/tip of the hat to Stephanie Meyer's literary soul mother Anne Rice, with the cast who played the Vampire Royals in the film: Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning, Christopher Heyerdahl, Jamie Campbell Bower (who initially had auditioned for Edward) and others. One thing I did find amusing about this piece was Sheen's revelation that he sounded like The Blue Meanie from Yellow Submarine while playing the part. These characters are the real revelation in this film. They enjoy their vampiric curse and instead of being sad-acts like the Cullens, they revel in the freedom it gives them.
 
Team Edward vs Team Jacob: The Ultimate Love Triangle discusses not just the amazing fan love division between the two characters, but also the psychology behind why there are the two sides. Features interviews with pretty much everyone involved in the film.
 
The Journey Continues: A Six Part Documentary On The making Of 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon is, not surprising a documentary about New Moon, divided into six parts. They are:
 
Life After Twilight: The cast discuss the insane fan base that pursue the film. An interesting look at obsessive fandom from a cast stuck well and truly in it.
 
Chris Weitz Takes The Helm: The cast recollections on working with Weitz and his approach to filming the first Twilight sequel.
 
The Subtle Details: looks at the entire production design, including sets, locations and costuming.
 
A Look At Production:  This is a more traditional 'making of' styled piece.
 
It's Not Magic: looks at the stunts, visual effects and CGI in the film.
 
Ready for the World: looks at the editing of the film from the initial shooting to the first cut, that went for 3 hours!!! I wanted to commit seppuku after 30 minutes, so three hours must have been unbearable.
 
The music videos section has 'Meet me On The Equinox' by Death Cab for Cutie, 'Satellite heart' by Anya Manning, a behind the scenes (and utterly useless) rehearsal of 'I Belong To You' by Muse and 'Spotlight' by Mutemath, which was from the Twilight soundtrack.
 
There are 12 extended scenes and 10 deleted scenes, which I reckon could have been extended to about 300.
 
The next two extras are exclusives to Bluray owners: lucky us.
 
Frame by Frame: Storyboards to Screen is a split screen comparison of the initial Storyboards, and how they panned out into the actual footage.
 
Fandemonium: looks at the totally insane level of fan base this series has. If you thought Trekkers were nutso, just wait until you see this bunch of obsessed freaks. It also shows a young man who won a prize (or received a punishment) that allowed him to visit the set of New Moon, and have a small part in the film.
 
The disc also contains a, audio commentary performed by director Chris Weitz and editor Peter Lambert.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
I have decided that the Twilight Saga is like having all 4 of your wisdom teeth removed. Each removal is just as painful, but you know what to expect, and that lessens the blow. The real tragedy of this series is the cast mostly seem to be good actors,áit's just the story is utter she-nerd romantic lonely-girl horse-crap.

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