Fourteen year old girls ruin everything. From the late 1980s to the turn of the new century their unbelievable purchasing power and rabid fandom put America at large through the torture of boy bands, and their droves returned in 2008 to elevate the first Twilight to box office returns far above its lackluster production values and horrid script. Twilight’s smaltzy take on ancient Romanian mythical creatures ramps up the cheese factor in the film’s sequel: New Moon. This time, its melodramatic aesthetics boils over into the werewolf mythos as well. Twilight Saga: New Moon is a film that can bring out the cinema snob in literally anyone. Its flaccid story and abuse of slow-motion pan shots fill any intelligent person so full of sap they’ll have to detox with Mexican soap operas.
Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) again proves herself the most powerful being in the film. Her ability to trap metrosexual creatures of the night in un-erotic gazes of inexplicable passion going unbeaten throughout the film’s 130 minutes. Recovering from her near fatal vampire attack by celebrating her birthday with a group of vampires, Bella gets a paper-cut that sends one of the undead into a blood lust, causing Bella’s beau Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) to finally realize how much danger he puts her in with his presence and ditches her. After a brief period of lukewarm moroseness, Bella reunites with her old friend Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), their burgeoning relationship slowly revealing his guise as a werewolf. As Black’s clan later collides with Cullen’s family, Bella may be forced to choose between the two “men;” unpredictable futures lying in wait on either side.
The film’s plot is disbursed evenly between drawn-out scenes of pseudo-romantic moments between Bella and her supernatural boy toys, which try to emphasize the torturous passions between them, although because of the quality of acting it comes off more as minute long examinations of each other’s faces. Despite an immortal supporting cast, Kristen’s Bella is the deadest faced, with each of the two competing males mustering only their sentence-long character traits: Edward is sullen and mysterious, Jack is tan and sporting adorable muscles. These muscles are surprisingly integral to the storyline, as werewolves apparently have the ability to remain shirtless in human form during the rainy season. Michel Sheen’s pitiable appearance towards the climax as Vampire family-head Aro almost gives the film a moment of passable performance, but he’s quickly drowned in the sadistically histrionic storyline.
If praise must be laden upon the original film, the helicopter landscape shots definitely captured the Pacific Northwest in a gorgeous light, giving the woods an appropriate mystical quality. But with Catherine Hardwicke – the first film’s director – thrown out the picture, the Hollywood mainstay theory of “more is better” takes full effect. While the scenery may occasionally be captured correctly, the camera takes the pan and tracking shot motif miles beyond its limit, the camera trying it’s best to make two groups of soon-to-be Abercrombie and Fitch models epic. Most likely realizing their mistake in post-production, the film attempts to compensate with slow-motion shots, to the degree that any inherent beauty or complexity a fight/battle scene could hold is stretched so thin it nearly tears the film in the projection reel. The producers also took unfortunate note of the Cult of Edward, giving the vampire the ability to slow down the film’s speed with every walking shot he takes. Every. Single. One.
Computer effects are decent and without noticeable flaw, but again, when slowed down they become more tepid than the novel the film is based on. Makeup is used hilariously, with the Vampires looking like the antagonist of “Blade Trinity” when he covered his vampiric face in sunscreen. Costumes occasionally breach mediocrity and deliver a truly lived-in looking piece, sometimes being the only respite in the eye-sexing scenes between the couples. The soundtrack comes complete with a handful of flavorless pop songs, their punctuation into the film’s routine orchestral track creating a real “lesser of two evils” sensation. Simply put, if you can find something positive in the design of New Moon, a career in forensic criminology might just be the career for you.
The most frustrating aspect of The Twilight Saga: New Moon is that its mountain of faults will be ignored by the box office. Its mobs of fans will be sedated by shots of boy-torso and abstinence-approved love scenes and eagerly gobble up their required ten pounds of merchandise. What had slowly been developing in the 1990s with Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Interview with the Vampire has been set back decades by a demographic whose only music expertise exists within the Disney pop library. If a rare slip into dramatic irony may be permitted: Vampires are Dead.