(Er, well, it would have been, except our home computer is currently on the fritz, Blue Screen O' Deathing us every five minutes.)
So, I went to a midnight showing on Thursday. Again. It was worth it, again.
New Moon is my favorite book of the Twilight franchise. The Twilight frachise is my favorite thing ever. So to say that I was a little bit invested in the outcome of the New Moon movie would be an understatement. To say I was nervous about the outcome would be an even bigger one. Not only is this book my favorite, but it’s also the hardest to translate to the screen. There isn’t much action. Most of the plot occurs within Bella’s head, and Bella – or Kristen Stewart’s portrayal of her -- was my main problem with the Twilight movie. Add to that the cringe-worthy special effects in Twilight, and I was really nervous. If they came up with that horrid glittering nonsense for Edward’s skin, what would a kid morphing into a giant wolf look like? I was hopeful that with the director change and the buy-in of better known actors that some of the problems would be resolved, but boy howdy, I was still really nervous.
My review in a word: Phew.
In a few more words: I loved New Moon. Compared to other, regular movies, it had some problems, yes. But compared with the fiascos in Twilight, it was practically Golden Globe worthy. Overall, it wasn’t perfect, but it was so much better than I’d feared. I really thought it was great. My only regret is that I don’t have friends nearby who’ll go see it ten more times with me.
First of all, a standing ovation for Kristen Stewart. She was so much better in this movie. There was no stuttering! No crazy-eye blinking! That, right there, made the movie so much better than Twilight. Her wardrobe was even better -- in the first movie she was dressed a little too trendily for my liking (I especially hated her fancy cell phone, which she was always talking into on speakerphone). Her wardrobe in this film was perfect. Not dumpy, but not trendy. Just nondescript jeans and t-shirt stuff. BRAVO, Chris Weitz.
I also thought Taylor Lautner did a great job. I am so happy they didn’t pull a casting change with him. I know that we were the only people in the world who watched that Christian Slater secret-spy show before it got canceled after half a season, but Taylor Lautner had a supporting role in that show and he was good. And that was a mainstream show! If Kristen Stewart got to keep her role after an absolutely painful performance in the first film it seemed totally unfair to snatch the Jacob role from Taylor, especially because he didn’t even have more than a few lines in Twilight. Anyway, he was fantastic. Unfortunately Jacob’s teeth were still an unsettling shade of white, and his wig looked, well, like a wig. Fortunately, his haircut occurs about halfway through the film and we have hopefully seen the very last of that stupid toupee.
- The vamp’s makeup was, again, totally over the top. Rosalie and Alice looked the worst, but all the Cullens looked ridiculously white. That could be toned down by about 70% and the effect would still get across – they’re pale. We know.
- Alice’s wardrobe was horrible. She looked matronly and dowdy. Fail.
- Jasper’s hair looked ridiculous.
- The sunlight-dazzle effect is still here, still the same (that is to say, awful). It only appeared in Bella’s dream, so it would have been easy enough to leave it out altogether if making it look better wasn’t possible. Why, oh why?
- Edward was driving a new car – some sort of black Volvo SUV. What was the point of changing his car, which was in exactly one scene? And while we're on the topic of cars, why didn't we get to see Jake's Rabbit?
- There were two scenes that were painful for me to watch. The first was the birthday party scene, which had been released months ago in previews and was part of the reason I was so nervous the whole movie was going to suck. The motion of opening the gift was totally fake, the drop of blood falling onto the overly magnified carpet was lame and Jasper’s slow-motion lunge for Bella was lame. Alice running off after Jasper (using the exact line from the book), Carlisle stitching up Bella’s cut: both great. The actual cut: Lame. The second scene was Alice’s vision, in which she sees Bella as a vampire. Bella is wearing a blue dress, as we know she does in Breaking Dawn, but it’s not the right kind of dress (it’s supposed to be an evening gown!) and Edward and Bella are frolicking. In slow motion. It was awful. It reminded me of the horrid flashbacks in Twilight when Edward and Carlisle are wearing those awful tweed caps and vests and everyone looks like they’re straight off the set of Newsies.
- When Bella first sees wolf-Sam in the meadow, the CGI is pretty bad. It seems even worse because of the long, slow look we get as she stares at him. As with all movie monsters, I think this would have worked better if she just got a quick look or a glimpse through the trees. The rest of the CGI was fine. Compared to the special effect disasters in Twilight, it was goddamned fantastic.
- The soundtrack, while pretty good, isn’t on par with the phenomenal music chosen for Twilight. And this, to borrow a term from the Fug Girls, is the nittiest of picks, but I was disappointed that "Undisclosed Desires" wasn’t used off Muse’s new album. I suppose I’m grateful that Chris Weitz knew enough to include a Muse song, but "Undisclosed Desires" has both a tone and lyrics that sound like they were written specifically for New Moon, and instead he used "I Belong To You"? Yet another reason I need to be hired on as an unpaid consultant immediately. Chris, I CAN HELPZ U.
Despite the already-high word count, my complaints are really quite minor. They stayed much closer to the book that I would have thought possible, and they did it well. They kept in several devices and scenes that I expected to be cut, like Bella and Jacob’s age argument and Bella's date night with Mike and Jacob.
More things I particularly loved:
- The translation of the months passing – in the book this was done with blank pages. In the movie version, they instead showed Bella staring out the window in her room as the seasons change. I thought it was beautifully done, and the song they used in this scene ("Possibility" by Lykke Li) was perfect. I won’t lie, I choked up and very nearly cried. (FINE. I cried. Tears fell. Shut it.) That scene… that was New Moon.
- The visions Bella has of Edward were really well done. I didn’t know how they would do this, since in the book he is a voice in her head. The ghosty-Edward worked very well, especially in the cliff-diving scene.
- Jessica. I loved her in the first movie, and she was even better here. Her bubbly, ditzy babbling was perfect. Jessica is one character that I think is far better in the movies than in the books. Charlie is another.
- The whole Forks High group of kids was better in this movie. Mike and Ben were both painful to watch in the first film. They just blended into the background here, which is exactly what they’re supposed to do.
- The ending was fantastic. It was perfect.