By: Garrett Collins
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke and Anna Kendrick
Before I get into this review, let me make one thing clear: I understand that this series of books and movies was not made for my age group or sex. I am not a swindling 14 year old girl (at heart), and I am not even female, so the idea that these stories would even hit a positive note with me, while at the same time tug at my heart, never entered my head. But I, like everybody, like to be entertained. And, I even have a ton of guilty pleasures that I am not particularly proud of (yep, that Lady Gaga song blasting from the car up the street is me). And, while it was by no means glowing, I gave Twilight what would seem to be a pretty decent review. The story’s big-time storytelling shortcomings were able to be overcome by a swift, beautifully done bluish pallet as well as a look and overall aesthetic that fit the story pretty well. It had almost a feeling of doom overcoming the characters, and it was my hope that this movie would follow through on what they had set up so well in the first film. Little did I know that New Moon, the second film in the Twilight franchise, would be so full of overdramatic isolation, bad acting, and a story that really has no bearing on anyone’s lives except that of Stewart’s character Bella. A character that is so selfish and self serving that it makes it almost impossible to root for her.
The first rule of thumb when it comes to sequels is you have to set up bigger stakes at hand. Stakes that have a consequence of bad proportions for all that are involved. And, while writing plays a huge part in how this was handled (more on that later), the direction and overall feel did not make for a very enjoyable experience watching this movie. One thing that was apparent right away was a change in director. Director of the original Twilight Catherine Hardwick was changed to Chris Wentz. A guy who had done some fantasy (the criminally overlooked Golden Compass) , and would seem to be the right man to replace what was before him. And, while I know I have an almost obsessive way of looking at how movies are made (a characteristic that has turned off a girlfriend or two in my life, but helps me in reviewing film), it is almost impossible not to notice the change of feel here. Whereas Hardwicke filled the screen with a darkly blue pallet that lent to the tone of that film, here Weintz goes for a very bland pallet of warm colors and tones. I understand that he wanted to give an almost Italian painting feel to the proceedings. But, its bland structure makes me, a casual viewer of the series, pay more attention to the plot details brought forth in front of me. And, here is where we are in real trouble, Amigos.
So, those stakes that I spoke about earlier? Nowhere to be had. Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg (someone who writes for the terrific show Dexter) and original writer Stephanie Meyer have set up situations that made me not just dislike, but loathe every single character onscreen. It is truly remarkable how bad the writing is here, as 25 minutes into the film, Edward reveals that it just is not safe for him to be around her (because the attacks on her would stop if she is NOT around him), and abruptly leaves. Throughout the course of this truly ridiculous conversation, he reveals that people have noticed the fact that the character of Carlo has not aged in ten years. Really? Then show us a scene! Show us, the audience. Don’t have the what-is-he-really-after boring ‘vampire’ tell us. Story writing 101 was obviously skipped by these two, and the dialogue & situations brought forth did not endear me to the characters at all. And, after he leaves, we are left with the characters of Bella and Jacob.
Bella. Let’s talk about her and her place in this movie. A lot has been made about the ‘mulling in self pity’ revolving scene with Stewart sitting in a chair and the camera swinging around her, as the days and months pass her by. I get the teen angst model here. But, while it worked to some extent in the first film, I do not understand how anyone can walk away from this scene and NOT want to just run away from the screen. Run away from these characters. And, even advice giving, ghostly visions of Edward (who is he, Obi-Wan Cullen-bi?) does not steer this girl towards the correct path. And, again I ask: what are the stakes here? Her happiness? We don’t care enough about her to want this. She goes to Lautner’s Jacob character to feel better, but at the same time gets stuck in the middle of a feud that is so poorly written, that, again, there are no stakes to even care about. About the only thing cool that came out of this was a Gmork (from Neverending Story) style entrance from the forest of a wolf.
As hard as it is to believe, I wanted to give this film some positive recognition. I really did. Because, if anything else, it has three people in it whose talent and resume speak for themselves. I wanted to like Anna Kendrick. I wanted to like Michael Sheen. I really wanted to like Dakota Fanning. And, while Kendrick’s real good roles wouldn’t come her way until after the first Twilight was released, I never thought I would see the other two in a film and utter the phrase that they were there for the paycheck. But, that, my friends is exactly what I am going to say. And, with lines such as ‘you can’t hurt each other without hurting me’ being thrown out from our ‘heroine’s’ mouth, it was really cringe inducing. I hate sounding like I went in this thing with a closed mind, because I didn’t. I like a good love story like anyone else (as I made clear in my last review). So, why did I leave this film with the feeling I had just wasted my time and all the people mentioned above have wasted their talents? Because, that is what bad writing does. The good news is, this has to be as bad as it gets, and the series really can’t get any worse than this. Can it?
0.5 out of 5