All the hype and excitement of teenage girls finally came to a climax last weekend as New Moon was released in cinemas. It is the second of four films in the Twilight Saga, a sequel to Twilight (2008), and stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner, who reprise their roles from the first film. Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass (2007)) directs with Melissa Rosenberg again as screenwriter, based on the novel series by Stephanie Meyer.
As viewers learn from Twilight, Bella Swan (Stewart) continues her relationship with local vampire, Edward Cullen (Pattinson), in the town of Forks, Washington, until a birthday party goes wrong and Edward decides to leave forever.
Bella proceeds to mourn her loss but finds comfort in her friend, Jacob (Lautner), spending lots of time with him and getting closer and closer to him, helping her get through her grief. However, Bellla goes on a rollercoaster of emotions as she grows closer to Jacob and discovers a shocking secret about him. The film takes us all the way to Italy and back, exploring the vampire legacy and more, and leads viewers through Bella’s extraordinary final year at high-school.
New Moon is a teen romantic fantasy, a genre hybrid which hasn’t really been done before, and the Twilight Saga does a great job of utilising the different genres that make it up, in order to appeal to a wide audience. As I experienced on opening night, the main target for the creators is clearly teenage girls, with the attractive young actors in a romantic, high-school setting being of great appeal. However, the fantasy and action side to the films appeal to another audience; those who are fans of fantasy and myth will enjoy the story, with its vampires and, in New Moon, werewolves, and the species’ rivalry produces some very exciting fight scenes.
The werewolves, the new addition to the Twilight bestiary, are neatly animated. Werewolves, in their human form, will grow when angry, to explode in transformation into huge, six-foot wolves, as they defend their territory or get on the chase to catch their only prey: vampires. The transformation is excellent and the movement and aesthetics of the wolves themselves are good; the close-ups of their eyes, reflecting what they can see, stands out for me. Again, the fight scenes are impressive: between the vampires and the werewolves, and even between the vampires themselves.
Stewart and Pattinson put in their usual, moody performances (whether due to their characters, or not, is up to the viewer), but still got across the emotions of their characters well. It was good to see Lautner make more of an appearance and Jacob’s transformation of character throughout the film is done well, even if his and his friends’ nakedness excited the audience perhaps a bit too much. However, as with the first film, the build up to an epic climax in battle disappointed and, with the soppy, predictable, and downright cheesy ending, I was left a little deflated after all the hype and build up.
Still, I haven’t been put off this series yet: I enjoyed the exploration of vampires and werewolves, and seeing how Bella, a human in this mythological world, interacted with these groups as well as the brief battle sequences and a few comedic moments. The cinematography of the film was also top notch; the forest shots were particularly aesthetically beautiful. However, the Twilight Saga still hasn’t quite done enough to be a classic series, although the third book is much more exciting, and looks set to give a fantastic movie adaptation.
If anything, at least I’ve learnt not to go to these movies on opening night.
New Moon: 7/10