In need of a good “date night” yesterday, we went to the Epicentre for dinner and drinks at Mez, followed by an evening showing of the second Twilight movie New Moon.
C’mon, you knew I’d go see it. And you knew I’d write a New Moon review for you. Didn’t you?
I went in expecting a very polarized reaction. Just about everyone that I’ve talked to (or reviews that I’ve read) either LOVED the movie or HATED it. Actually, nearly all of the people I know who have seen the movie hated it too – for the most part, it’s the general public that has reported loving it. To give you an example, Rotten Tomatoes records the consolidated critics’ response as 29% favorable, while 93% of Flixster users who rated the film gave it positive marks.
So yeah, you can imagine that I went in there bracing myself for a strong reaction.
Instead, what I got was an entertaining two hours, which had some funny moments, decent action, and barely tolerable romantic teen angst. Overall though, a very watchable movie.
The two leads — playing the human Bella and the vampire Edward — give performances that are by no means extraordinary. But c’mon, they weren’t hired because they were magnificent thespians. They seem to have been hired because they were young and pretty and really good at looking pained and sad.
Some of the supporting actors were better — the woman who plays Edward’s vampire “sister” Alice is a delight, and I’m a fan of the vampire “parents” as well. The werewolves (I’m clearly not giving anything away if you’ve seen a trailer for the movie) are typically pretty bad, presumably hired primarily because they were brown and in good shape.
The seventeen year-old playing Jacob is better than his peers, though not consistently – sometimes he’s very engaging, whereas other times he’s trying just a little too hard. Admittedly, it’s like he’s playing two separate characters tied together by a common history, as his character makes a major shift halfway through the film, changing rapidly (phasing, you might say — okay, that’s my last werewolf joke, I promise) from goofy and playful teenage boy with a crush to angry and protective werewolf boy with an attitude.
As for the story, well, if you don’t know it, consider reading the book. Or don’t, because they do a pretty good job of translating the novel to the screen. They made clever cuts and adaptions to get the highlights of the story across without sacrificing too much time for the actors to pose for the camera.
Thankfully we’re not subjected to a half-hour of Bella sitting in her room crying, as you might expect from reading the text. Instead, they do a good job of showing how her life is empty for awhile before she starts getting back on her feet.
There werewolves don’t get anywhere near the focus as they did in the book, which is disappointing. I enjoyed reading about the werewolf history and culture, but I understand why they made the cuts they did in the film. Actually they did a pretty good job of dropping hints or summations in the movie to make it clear — my date hadn’t read the book but understood the key werewolf points well enough without explanation.
And the Volturi don’t seem half as menacing in the movie as they did in the book, but that may be because we didn’t hear quite so much about them throughout. They were declared to be terrifying, and thus the audience was expected to accept it as so — but with an audience primarily consisting of teenage girls looking for a love story (or stories, in this case) I suppose they didn’t have to focus on that too much.
All in all, I enjoyed the movie, though it’s not especially great. Again, some of the actors were good, others were mediocre, and some were laughable. The story was interesting, with more action and substance to the plot than the first film. Believe it or not, it seems a little LESS teen-angsty than the first film, though I suppose it would be hard to be more so.
If you’ve got the time to kill, an agreeable date, and the ability to have a cocktail or two beforehand to lull you into complacency, I say go check it out.
And for the record: Team Jacob.