Mark Reviews Movies


1 Star (out of 4)

Director: Chris Weitz

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Robert Pattinson, Anna Kendrick, Ashley Greene, Billy Burke, Michael Sheen

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for some violence and action)

Running Time: 2:10

Release Date: 11/20/09

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Review by Mark Dujsik

The girls scream at the title (after taking what seems like almost a minute to reveal over the image of a waning moon). They audibly, loudly sigh at every unabashedly nauseating romantic line. They laugh a lot at the incredibly cheesy moments, although not nearly as much or as often as I do, as they don't recognize over three-quarters of them. They cheer and applaud at the anticlimactic, cliffhanger ending.

I am clearly not supposed to be here at the screening of Twilight Saga: New Moon, which only has the first part of the title to connect the dots for people who want to catch on to Stephenie Meyer's vampire romance fad without having (to) read the books (I tried reading the first book and got to page 231 before giving up on the chore; it's still sitting close to me, bookmark in place, untouched for a while except until now to see on which page I stopped). Honestly, I don't even think the people who thought they were supposed to be here are supposed to be here, because all this second chapter does is occasionally iterate the first movie's story and replicate its relationship dynamic wholesale with a new potential love interest.

Yes, the extended anti-depressant ad with vampires is back—now featuring werewolves!

That's right, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) are apart for most of New Moon, although Edward appears before her in visions that cause her fragile psychiatric state to shatter and do stupid things, like get on a motorcycle with a complete stranger, crash her new dirt bike, and jump off a cliff into the water. This is only slightly less physically damaging than an earlier moment when Edward tries to "protect" her from one of his family's more thirsty members after she receives a paper-cut by throwing her into a table covered with glass decorations.

Edward's doctor "dad" (Peter Facinelli) probably wouldn't have had to give Bella stitches for the paper-cut. I'm just saying.

After spending three months starting out her window as the season's change (director Chris Weitz apparently thought the view wouldn't be enough and titles each month passing), she finally gets back into her slightly less depressed mood and starts hanging out with her old friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who's good at fixing things, stands up to take off his shirt and pose before crouching back down to clean Bella's head wound from the dirt bike crash, and really cares for Bella. He might even love her.

Bella once again goes through her predictable, indecisive relationship tease act until she learns that Jacob—in addition to his continual level of ridiculous shirtless-ness—has a secret. Suddenly, he's a bit more attractive. Even still, Bella tells Jacob that they can't do this, and he responds, "We have to do this." My understanding is that "this" is the continual back-and-forth of uncertain relationship development, and the rest of that sentence—after an unnecessary pause, of course—is "Otherwise Stephenie Meyer wouldn't have a plot." Just wait until she finds out he's a werewolf.

Either Jacob watched the first movie to learn all of Edward's wooing secrets, or Meyer has incredibly little imagination and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg has no understanding when it comes to characters. Since the first possibility is far too meta for this material and its creators, I can only deduce the second. I definitely realize Bella needs some psychiatric help for her penchant, not for dating mythological monsters, but for choosing psychologically abusive love interests.

We've seen this before, and because Bella does a half-hearted attempt to understand Jacob's lycanthropy compared to the half-assed job she did trying to comprehend Edward's vampirism, it has less than half the intrigue of the first movie.

The werewolf stuff is comprised of a shady gang of shirtless thugs in the distance and very digital wolves attacking each other and chasing the occasional vampire (even the chase scene is set to melancholy music—a Thom Yorke song, adding insult to injury), and the vampire material has gotten stale already. Edward introduces Bella to a mysterious clan called the Volturi, who aren't happy Bella knows about vampires, and mentions a treaty between vampires and werewolves. He doesn't go into detail about that seemingly important bit of information because it probably plays more into a later chapter. Meanwhile, Pattinson unnecessarily pauses in the middle of and between lines while pouting or looking constipated.

The rest of the cast pouts a lot, too, but I suppose it's mandatory in a movie that slaps us in the face with a Romeo and Juliet allusion early on and then repeatedly punches us in the face with its reappearance in the plot later.

Twilight Saga: New Moon is recycled supernatural romance hooey that's utterly transparent in its laziness. The movie ends with a marriage proposal, and based on the characters' track record and Meyer's fondness of dragging matters like this out as long as possible, I was hoping for an after-credits scene with the only logical response: "I don't know."

Copyright © 2009 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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