I’ve been traveling and checking into hotel rooms and catching up with friends that I haven’t seen in a while… so while I could have posted this yesterday, I didn’t get to it until today. I saw the film at a pre-screening on Wednesday and at a corporate event yesterday evening around 9 pm (which was cool since the crowds for the midnight shows were insane!!!). So I feel I have a pretty well formed opinion after two viewings. If you are curious as to what I thought of the film, or if you are just in need of more spoilers, then you can read below the cut. But be warned that I do spoil in my review. Read at your own risk!
Before I start my review I will happily tell anyone that yes, I am biased. Yes, I wanted this to be a great film for my fandom and for Stephenie. I wanted this to out shine “Twilight” so much so that I wouldn’t have to make excuses for the things that were bad… like Edward ‘s sparkles tinkeling like wind chimes or that there was no “I love you” in the film. I wanted to be able to be completely honest in my reaction and not have to pass it off with the excuse of “well, they only had $34 mill to work with” like I have done with “Twilight” so many times. So I went into this with total optimism and hope that “New Moon” would be everything “Twilight” wasn’t for me… and to my great pleasure, that’s exactly what happened!
I knew from the very moment the opening title popped up and the moon waned from full to new that Chris Weitz was going to deliver something great. How many times have I had to explain that a FULL moon isn’t a NEW moon to a fan? I’ve heard complaints on why they just can’t put a full moon on the cover of the book or on the movie poster or where ever. Hopefully now everyone will finally realize that a NEW moon is the absence of a moon! And Chris Weitz got it! I know it seems a bit obsessive to be that excited over the opening title, but after years of explaining this to people it was like having validation from the best source possible!
So now lets take the rest of the film piece by piece. Let’s start with acting. I thought everyone did a better job with their acting in this film than they did with Twilight. The problem is that most of our main characters spend the duration of New Moon in a state of angst and depression! Critics are complaining about this, but that’s what the book is like. In fact, I think we saw Bella smile more in New Moon than we did in Twilight. Personally, I laughed more in this film. I think everyone’s timing improved, both for the comedic moments and for the heavy emotional moments as well.
Kristen Stewart, who is still taking a beating for being expressionless, acted the heck out of the fact that she was in pain. Her face during the months section of the film is just wretched. I can’t even fathom how hard this film was on her, to pretend to be totally gone and depressed for days and days and days has to be emotionally draining in real life. So kudos to Kristen to making the depression believable without being overly weepy.
Robert Pattinson impressed me with his ability to look like he wants to cry and can’t! He has really improved as a actor. Three moments stand out for me. First, when he leaves Bella has to lie to her, he kisses her forehead just before he walks away. For that brief moment we see the flicker of how much he loves her and doesn’t want to leave her in the only moment when Bella CAN’T see it. Secondly, the Volterra scene when Bella throws her body at him to push him out of the sun I thought was well done. I’ve heard lots of fans complaining about this moment and I don’t get that. If you’ve only seen the film once and you were screaming at that moment, you might have missed Edward’s line of “Heaven” when he feels Bella against him. I LOVED that line! But then the other complaint is that they don’t start kissing right away. Watch both of them as Rob processes that it isn’t a dream and she is alive and Kristen processes that he didn’t try to kill himself out of guilt but out of heart break and love. They kiss when they are supposed to kiss and it was spot on for me. Now, the third time I really felt like Rob totally nailed Edward’s character was the very, VERY end, which is my favorite moment of the film. The last four – five lines are spot on, and the timing of the very last line is pure perfection. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it, but it pulled about the biggest fangurl reaction out of me that I have had in a long time.
Now for Taylor Lautner. Wow. Just wow. What gets me the most about his performance is that at some point in time someone was considering recasting him. Really. He had to fight to keep the role of Jacob Black. That stuns me more than anything because of how perfectly played every moment was with him. The few moments that really stand out for me are the movie theatre scene where he first tries to convince Bella that they could be something together. I loved how he went from smiles, to persuasion, to anger so quickly and yet so smoothly. I also really loved the delivery of his first “bloodsucker” line to Bella and her reaction to it. It caught me off guard even though I knew it was coming. But my favorite scene with him is when he is trying to remind Bella that she already knows what’s going on, but he is bound not to tell her he is a werewolf. I can almost hear his internal monologue at that moment, especially when he stops just before saying the word “stories.” I can hear the struggle he is having with his need to tell her the truth and the fact that the Alpha commanded him not to. He just really blew me away all through the film.
Other stand outs for me are Mike Welsh as the desperate wanna be boyfriend. LOVED the movie theatre scene. It was perfect. Anna Kendrick rambling on about zombies and that there were no hot guys in that film. She told us in an interview that she pretty much improved that whole speech. Billy Burke as the dad whose conflicted over what to do. You can see he’s worried and he tries to make a joke to lighten the mood, but Bella is still in her funk. He played those moments so well. But my favorite was… and this should be no surprise if you’ve been paying attention to the tweets and random comments from conventions… was Michael Sheen as Aro. Sigh… I have such a sick and twisted place in my heart for Aro. And now it’s even more sick and twisted. Every little nuisance he delivered was spot on. I love how Michael played him as a real romantic at heart. Just a few moments that made me smile – when tries to read Bella’s mind and can’t and he turns away from them, the look on his face is so perfect! When he licks his lips in the desire to drink Bella’s blood… shivers! Every time he takes someone’s hand to read their mind – the greediness with which he grabs them and the smile that forms on his lips is just cunning. UGH! Really, it’s wrong for me to like that character, but he’s just so wrong that I can’t help myself.
Have I rambled enough about the actors? Let me hit the things that didn’t work for me. First off – who dressed Alice? Cause it wasn’t Alice, the shop-o-holic fashion know-it-all from the books! She looked – and I don’t know how this is possible because Ashley Green is so beautiful – but she looked fat. WHAT? That blue, dumpy shirt thing that she wears to school on Bella’s birthday… what was that thing? And the layers of coats and scarves and lord knows what that was draped all over her in the scene where she comes back to Forks. And then the scarf and gloves in Volterra that I suppose I could understand she was wearing so she didn’t sparkle but still made her look matronly. I didn’t get her costumes at all. In fact, I felt kind of sorry for Hanna of the Hillywood show who now has to wear those costumes!
Second of all, I really missed the fact that Carlisle tells Bella about Edward’s transformation. They cut that out and it’s one of my favorite things about New Moon and the series as a whole. It’s when they really start to set up that whatever special qualities you have as a human are intensified as a vampire. It gives us the explanation as to why Edward can read minds and Alice can see the future, but that not all vampires have an extra supernatural quality. And it makes Aro’s speculation about what kind of immortal Bella would make that much more meaningful. (And after all, this movie is all about Aro, right? LOL!) So that was one thing cut from book to movie that I felt was missing.
And then it bugged me that the dream sequence that has been hyped up about – the scene we’ve seen all those pictures from with Bella’s bed in the woods and she’s outside of herself with Edward and Jacob… where was that scene? I kept waiting for it because I’ve been so curious as to how it would fit in the film, and it never came. It bothered me that I had seen so much about that scene and didn’t get anything of it in the film. Oh well, I suppose it will be on the DVD. This is the scene I’m talking about.
Now here are the little nitpicky things that as a diehard fan made me frown. Why was Jasper in school? Jasper, Rosalie, and Emmett “graduated” and went to “collage.” He shouldn’t have been in the school. Why did Marcus have three times as many lines as Ciaus? Marcus shouldn’t be talking. He doesn’t talk. He just mopes and is depressed. Why weren’t Edward’s eyes black in Volterra? They nailed the fact that he was in South America when he got the call that Bella was dead, but they missed the mark on the fact that he wasn’t feeding. His eyes should have been stone black. It would have made such an impression on Bella and the audience. And I won’t even touch the car since Laura already did that and we all know it was wrong. And the other thing that I think everyone agrees on is that Alice’s vision of vampire Bella just… didn’t work. It was comical to see them frolicking like that. Just the clothes in the vision… neither character would wear those clothes.
But other than that I don’t have many complaints. The directing was brilliant. I think Chris Weitz got so many things right that I can forgive him what went wrong. The cinematography was great… the meadow looked like a real meadow! The score was beautiful and haunting and romantic. And most importantly, they did justice to the book. New Moon moves slower as a book , so it makes sense that the movie would move in the same way. But I never felt it was moving too slowly. Again, I suppose that is the biased fan in me, but it was a real and honest representation of the book. And after all, if it hadn’t been for the book, we all wouldn’t have been so desperate to see the film!
Over all, I loved it. I loved it the second time, and I’m sure I will love it the third time. I can’t wait to get the DVD and see the edited scenes. And most of all… I cannot wait for Eclipse! Well done, everyone! Two big thumbs up!