Twihard 2: Twiharder
New Moon, the second film adaptation of Stephanie Meyers’ Twilight series, was always going to be made. For all the faults the first Twilight film presented (and there were many), it had more than enough interest to draw in the young female demographic at the box office, which it did to the staggering tune of $392 million worldwide. That number alone was all that was needed to guarantee the rest of the sequels would be green lit, the only question now was could the series improve after a mediocre start. The answer would be a resounding no; in fact, New Moon is such a terrible film that it makes its predecessor look like a Kenneth Branagh Shakespeare film. By the end of this film, your face will either be hurting from laughing too hard at all the gaffs or crying to hard at the failure that is this film. If it’s both, you may need to consult a doctor.
Picking up where Twilight left off, 18 year old Bella Swan and her vampire boyfriend Edward Cullen (Robert Pattison) seem to be as happy as can be; that is until a paper cut during her birthday party causes Edward’s brother Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) to attack and nearly eat Bella. Because of this, Edward and his family decide to leave for Bella’s safety, which depending on your perspective is either a really dick move or an extreme overreaction to an accident. Left in a state of depression, Bella turns her attention to seeking out thrills (which for some reason allow her to see Edward) and hangs out with Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), a Native American boy who has a supernatural secret of his own. Slowly, Bella starts to move on from Edward, until one of her thrill seeking expeditions leads to Edward believing she is dead, thus making him depressed and suicidal.
With Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke departing from the series (she must’ve seen the only way to go from the first film was even further down), Golden Compass director Chris Weitz was brought in as the replacement. Critics were very critical of Weitz upon the film’s release, but like Hardwicke in the original film, there’s not a whole lot he could’ve done. The narrative for New Moon is somehow even weaker than the first films, which again wasn’t high art itself. Literally nothing happens; the thrill seeking scenes Bella has are incredibly tame and feature no suspense, while the growing romantic interest between her and Jacob (while handled fine) generates no interest because it’s been made clear Jacob has no chance compared to Edward. My guess is the big selling point for this film (and by extension the book) is supposed to be the reveal of the werewolf tribe, which Jacob is a part of. In typical Twilight fashion though, the film botches this by messing with the werewolf mythology (the same thing happened with vampires in the first film), and presenting them in some of the worst CGI ever put on film. You’re more likely to be impressed with the special effects in the 1933 King Kong than you are with New Moon.
For the most part, the cast is once again either horrible or misused. The biggest issue to develop from this film is the development of Bella. Kristen Stewart once again seems to have no motivation in playing this role, and I have to imagine it’s because Meyers’ novel and Melissa Rosenberg’s screenplay make her seem like the biggest asshole since Jay Leno. By the end of New Moon, non Twilight fans (and maybe even a few of those) will most likely find Bella completely unlikable after witnessing her push away her father (a misused Billy Burke) and Jacob in favor of waiting and moping over a guy who at the very least isn’t exactly the ideal boyfriend. It makes her seem shallow, needy, lazy and stupid; why not try to actually stand up for yourself and confront your problems instead of being walked over? Bella didn’t exactly look great coming out of Twilight, but New Moon is definitely the film that helped define her as one of the most unlikable protagonists of all time. It also doesn't help that she has zero chemistry with Pattison; there were times I felt more heat between Stewart and Peter Facinelli (playing Edward's father Carlisle) than the supposed real life couple.
If there are any redeemable parts for New Moon, it comes from two additions to the cast and one semi removal. That removal is Pattison, who despite being terrible once more is thankfully kept off screen for about two thirds of the movie. That’s never a negative. The first addition that works is the character of Jacob, who may be the only character Meyers ever created that is actually three dimensional. While Taylor Lautner doesn’t do a tremendous job in the role, he’s at least interesting, likable, and ultimately harmless, which is more than I can say for his male counterpart. Plus, his tendencies of taking off his shirt every chance he gets will definitely lead to some laughs. Meanwhile, Michael Sheen delivers a hilarious performance as Aro, the leader of a vampire coven in Italy called the Volari. A talented performer over the years, Sheen appears to be the only member of the cast who realizes the film is a joke, and ramps up the camp accordingly. Bravo to him for turning a badly written role into the time of his life.
If there is any reason to see New Moon, it’s for the large amounts of unintentional comedy it provides. While the first Twilight contained numerous amounts of that too, New Moon is chock full of them, including every scene Michael Sheen is in and a scene that features Jacob taking his shirt off to bandage a wound Bella suffers after a small motorcycle accident (the cut can’t be anymore than a small scrape). Beyond that, there’s absolutely no reason to watch this film; the script is poor, the effects are Sharknado levels bad and the acting is so awful that several people have stated that they thought the best performance in this film came from one of the CGI werewolves. When a case is being made for a special effect, and a terrible one at that, is the most convincing thing you’ve seen in a film, you know you’ve witnessed shit. Indeed, New Moon is most certainly one of the lowest forms of film making I have ever seen, and it should’ve represented the lowest of lows for this movie franchise. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t.