Nov 23 2009

Unreal Movie Review: New Moon

Published by at 11:00 am under Movies,Reviews

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After seeing New Moon, and against my better judgment contributing to its almost-Dark Knight topping massive opening weekend, I think I’m starting to finally see the driving force behind the insanity this series causes.

Now, in no way do I think the Twilight franchise is good, however, I understand why the massive teenage girl following behind the franchise exists. It’s a book series (and subsequently film series) FOR teen girls BY a teen girl. Now, of course author Stephanie Meyer is not a teenager, but judging from her Twilight books, she sure knows how to write like one. From what I’ve read, the series is little more than slightly edited drafts of fan fiction, meant to directly appeal to the most primal instincts and emotions of impressionable young girls.

In New Moon, Bella is the overly-dramatic, borderline psychotic ex-girlfriend that all of us have had at some point. So to say that her character’s insane motivations and actions are unrealistic isn’t really fair, however way out there they may be. Girls like that exist aplenty, especially in high school where for every boy who sends a rogue text with a less-than-satisfactory smiley face, there will a girl threatening to jump off the roof. The question is not whether the character is realistic; it’s whether or not she should be the protagonist of a film being viewed by every female in the country.

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“It’s not you it’s me.”

“I WILL STAB MYSELF WITH THAT BRANCH IF YOU BREAK UP WITH ME.”

If legions of teenage girls are taking their relationship cues from Bella, we’re all about to be in for a world of hurt. At the start of the film, Edward breaks up with Bella, saying it’s too dangerous for her to be around him because of the whole vampire thing. Naturally, Bella cuts herself off with all contact from the world for months, huddling in her room and screaming uncontrollably in the middle of the night like any sane girl would do. But then things start to take a turn for the worse.

Bella realizes that for whatever poorly conceived reason, she can hallucinate visions of Edward when she does something incredibly dangerous. For example, she gets on the back of a stranger’s motorcycle as ghostly visions of Edward pop up telling her she’s a dumbass. But she can see him! Hooray!

This escalates to the point where she’s literally crashing dirt bikes and jumping off cliffs in order to catch a glimpse of Edward, because you know, looking at a photo or listening to an old voicemail would just be far too easy. So girls of the world listen up. If your boyfriend dumps you, it’s probably a good idea to try and almost kill yourself to attract his wandering attention.

Worse yet, in her grief, Bella turns to her BFF, the Native American werewolf-to-be Jacob Black, in her time of need. She spends months with him, having him build her the bike that she can eventually crash to hallucinate Edward, all the while thinking he’s earning points with her. But even after putting months and months of time in, cutting his ridiculous hair and working out to the point where he looks like a G.I. Joe, Bella still stops short of even kissing him, and gives him the “you’re an awesome friend and you’re an asshole if you try to ruin this” speech at about three different points during the movie, which always sends him into a fit of justifiable werewolf rage. So in addition to being a psychotic stalker, Bella also proves herself incredibly adept at being a manipulative bitch.

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“Yes, our shirts rip off when we transform. No, our pants do not. Stop asking questions.”

Later, because of future-vision from his sister, and a misinterpreted phone call to Jacob, Edward believes Bella to be dead via cliff diving and plots to end his own life because he watched Romeo and Juliet in English class. But because vampires don’t have cell phones or double-check facts before making a decision to end their 100 year existence, Bella must race to Italy where Edward plans to sparkle in front of humans to provoke the vampire justice squad, the Volturi, into killing him. This confrontation leads to one of New Moon’s TWO fight scenes, which effectively doubles the count found in Twilight, which apparently warrants the film to now describe itself as “action-packed.”

But as much as I may disagree with what’s supposed to be a “relatable lead” or a “believable plot” in the film, the fact remains that for all its character flaws and story holes, New Moon is fundamentally still nearly as bad a film as Twilight.

It’s physically made better, as there are less jarring cuts and horrendous special effects (I didn’t half mind the giant CGI wolves after a few minutes), but the problem is and always has been the writing, and subsequently, the acting.

It’s tough to write a good script for a movie like this. The source material is just full of such badness, that any attempt to adapt it into a screenplay must retain some of that original stench. Even the FANS in the audience laugh at lines like “Bella, just you breathing is a gift to me” and shots of the happy couple running in a meadow, dancing through sunbeams as light sparkles off their face.

Fundamentally, the concept behind Twilight is not a bad one. A vampire/werewolf love triangle with an interesting backstory could be pretty cool. The introduction of the Volturi is a welcome addition in this film, as showcased a new, more terrifying breed of bloodsuckers that aren’t content with drinking deer blood and playing baseball. It also gives us reason to think that Bella, with her vampire-canceling mind powers, might actually be more useful than the whiny box of nonsense she normally appears to be.

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Vampires that eat people? What a concept!

However, the love story that is central to this film just is not believable to non-brainwashed folk like you and me. I have almost never seen less chemistry onscreen between two actors as I have with Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. Both of them deliver every line either on the brink of tears or orgasm, but obsession is not love, something that Stephanie Meyer does not seem to understand. Also, it’s pretty damn creepy that he’s 109 and she’s 18.

Conversely, her relationship with Taylor Lautner’s Jacob has a bit more of a spark, at least on his end. Maybe it’s like comparing a Geo Metro to a go-kart, but Lautner at least seems to pull his weight dramatically in the film. Unfortunately his entire character arc is shattered once Bella sees Edward for more than two seconds, and though this turn of events sets him up perfectly to be the villain in the next film, sadly, hearing about the books and knowing what Meyer has in store, his character is sent flying off the deep end in order to keep Edward and Bella safely intact.

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“Are you goddamn kidding me? I’m cut like a diamond.”

These movies are pure fantasy, that’s all they are. But I don’t mean “fantasy” in the Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings sense. I mean like someone is literally filming a thirteen year-old girls daydream, where two gorgeous (and usually shirtless) guys compete over a plain girl for no good reason, and people actually say things like “I’d rather die than live without you.” As an added bonus, everyone has superpowers!

I’d say it’s harmless, but it’s not. The Twilight phenomenon that’s sweeping the nation is doing a disservice to the vampire genre, the fantasy genre, the movie journalism industry (who has discovered that more Twilight = more clicks) and most tragically, men all over the world who will now find themselves constantly compared to a guy who doesn’t exist. And just think, in a year we get to do it all over again.

2 out of 5 stars

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It appears they made Kristen Stewart watch her own performance.





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24 responses so far

  • Hyuri

    Nail-on-THE-HEAD!

    Daybreakers and Wolfman doesn’t come fast enough.

  • Buddy Reno

    I can agree with your sentiments. I still really like the movie and book series but they do have their problems which I am aware of and choose to look past. To each his own.

    There is one thing I want to mention which is more clearly explained in the book than in the movie. The reason Bella can’t look at a picture of Edward, or anything that reminds her of him, is because in the book (not in the movie) there is a sequence where Bella discovers that Edward took every picture and thing that could remind her of him. It’s the reason he says [paraphrase]: “it will be as if I never existed”. He removes it all from her life.

    In the book, you find at the end, he just stashed it under the floorboards but I digress. The movie didn’t do a good job of explaining this fact and I think it was an important fact to miss.

    I also agree that Jacob is a great character that gets completely screwed over. Upon re-reading the series and watching New Moon, I’m converted into wishing the series would have ended with Bella choosing Jacob as he has ACTUAL reasons someone would, you know, want to be with them. It’s more believable than Edward’s “you want me because i’m pretty” schtick.

  • Cheryl

    I couldn’t imagine seeing this movie if I hadn’t read the books. Every entertainment show this week-end consisted of Oprah leaving her show and how awful every movie reviewer thinks this movie is. I tend to really listen to reviews (usually if they get more positive then negative I’m all for checking it out) but I think the critic they had on Canada AM Friday said it best when the reporter asked for his review and he answered “Does it even matter?” Frankly it doesn’t. Every review I have read by people who have read the books is good, non-readers was bad…they made the movie for the fans so in that aspect Job Well Done!
    I don’t think these movies/books are dangerous for girls, I grew up reading VC Andrews and Harlequin and consider myself well adjusted, I know the difference between a story and real-life. I mean when I went to school there were so many books you had to read with deep messages and depressing storylines what’s the harm in a story full of silly romance and boys who sparkle? =)

  • Madison

    I can’t believe you saw this.

    Anyway, I agree with your larger, overall point – Twilight has defanged vampires. And I hate it for that.

  • Lagrange

    …the ex-girlfriend that all of us have had at some point.
    Are you implying that there are no girls on the internetz?

  • Ugo Strange

    Dude…You are The Man, plain and simple, The Man. I kneel to your awesomeness.

  • Ellie

    I’m a girl and there’s two or so guys in my physics class who say that the love story is “touching” and “sweet”.

    Of course, I called them gay and took away their gay calling privileges (i.e they can’t call anyone gay).
    But, I used to be like those brain-washed fan girls, but I got over it and finally realized that Twilight and all Twilight related things are gay and are solely for the use of money.

    Also, I don’t see how Robert Pattinson is going to be able to shed his “Edward Cullen” thing off. It’s sad really.

    And Kristen Stewart is a mouth breather.

  • Cracky

    Bad news Paul…a year is being generous. Someone higher up the food chain realized that crazy teen girls grow up, and at some point may realize Twilight is shittier than shit. So, we get to watch the 3rd installment, Eclipse, on June 30th of next year! So now it gets to torment you throughout the summer, and even worse, the 4th movie will be close on its heels, probably early 2011 or late 2010.

    So, the positive look is it will be over soon.
    The negative side is, you may as well write 2010 out as an abomination.

  • Buddy Reno

    um… is there something wrong with my comment that it hasn’t been approved yet? I didn’t flame or really disagree with you at all.

  • Buddy Reno

    ^Nevermind. It finally went through.

  • http://paul@unrealitymag.com Paul Tassi

    @Buddy Reno

    I have to approve first-time commenters, but now you’re good to go. Welcome to the family!

  • Zero

    i couldn’t stop laughing when i first saw the trailer for this movie. The movie came across as chick flick meets Crank. The later of which was entertaining to say the least.

  • Alex

    2 out of 5 stars? Those seem to be very high marks for anything Twilight related. Dude is there a Twitard pointing a gun at your head? Say I love Twilight if there is. We can get the police over there in no time

  • CNA

    The lack of chemistry between Bella/Edward baffles me to no end. I mean, they’re together in real life… how is it possible they can’t convey love on screen?

  • sepirothpk

    Had a friend say “Guys just can’t seem to get over the fact that he’s dead”
    There’s a reason, that’s called necrophilia.
    Yeah…

    I like the base principle, but Edward doesn’t seem like a vampire. The only “bad” urge he seems to have is that he wants to sometimes kill Bell. I’m pretty sure a lot of guys could relate to that. I started reading the first book but it nearly forced my brain into suicide and the worst part was how bella acted around Edward. And she never stops acting like that according to my sister

  • chelsea

    i have read the books. granted, i watched twilight and new moon online and refused to put money towards the franchise.

    it was out of curiosity that this came about… i am 24 years old and can see the appeal of this to girls 14 AND UNDER, however my main issue is the amount of grown women that are utterly obsessed. and no, i don’t believe the majority of them do realize this is not real. much like i don’t believe that stephanie meyer lives in reality. the writing is atrocious. that bitch needs a thesaurus. the acting is horrible, minus taylor lautner. he actually has something, which makes one person in the series.

    i think this was a great review, however i would take it down to one star, maybe 1.5. good insight, though.

    and to all the people that say the books go into more detail of the story… what-the-eff-ever…. there is no complexity or confusing moments of the story. it has no depth so it’s hard to leave important elements out when there is nothing to leave out.

  • http://supernaturalbookclub.blogspot.com/ Hey Lady!

    I find it offensive that parents let their impressionable young girls watch this. If you’re over the age of 17, okay you grasp that life is not like that and going into a deep depression when your high school boyfriend of 6 months breaks up with you is not normal. I think if people 17 and older want to see this movie, fine. There certainly are worse things out there to watch.

    I’m not sure that Twilight has done a disservice to vampires. It’s gotten countless people interested in the genre who wouldn’t have been otherwise, and it can be a gateway to other way BETTER vampire books. I can’t knock it for that. It’s bringing people in.

  • Forks resident

    First of all, although we in and around Forks, WA, are glad to siphon money out of the morons who have adopted this weird masqued Mormon cult-of-abusive-relationships (it’s really hard to make a living at logging and fishing and tourism)…please know that it’s nothing at all like Twilight here.

    For one thing, we don’t run around shirtless in the hypothermia-inducing rain. For another, most of us carry chainsaws or axes or rifles most of where we go, and that includes liberals as well as conservatives. Also, our kids tend to have much better judgment than Bella Swan. My daughter got lost up the Bogachiel River when she was 11, and bushwacked her way back out quite cheerfully, using the Silva compass in her daypack. Our girls are not helpless dimwits. More mothers should be encouraging THAT sort of behavior as an ideal. Not Bella Swan’s absolute passivity.

    We all (hanging out at the real local places where tourists don’t go) wondered the same thing about the Hunkatron “Indians” pants. Most of our Quilayeute neighbors eat too much fry bread to be all that ripped, and tend more toward the XXL sweat pants sartorial statement. I should know, I’m one. But seriously. Why do they bother with pants at all? I mean if you’re a werewolf, why bother? Bigfoot doesn’t.

    Next of all, all Twilight proves is just how many stupid people there are, lacking all sense of aesthetic, moral, or mature moral judgment. Edward Cullen is a pedophile and a stalker. Bella Swan is a codependent psychotic who thinks love = death. There is nothing “romantic” about this fictional relationship. It is thanatophilia, pure and simple: a surrender to hormones and worship of suicide.

    Please please please understand that our part of the world–where Stephanie Meyer is also from–is being assaulted by the Mormon patriarchal cult. That sect is using the mass media to teach girls to be subservient to men. They are teaching both young men and young women that sex is dangerous and evil and deadly, rather than a human drive that most of us have the capacity to exercise healthily and with positive results. They teach young men and women to fear each other. They demand that librarians and teachers remove from school and public libraries any work of literature that have evolved past the 19th century view of men owning women.

    There is serious often pathological misogyny in these beliefs and my concern is that most women taking their little daughters to see this movie are not aware of just how SERIOUS a culture jam Ms. Meyer always intended her Suck Books to be.

    A less bitter reading of it comes from The Onion AV CLub, in which a commented recalled an Onion piece where a gushy little girl dreams of being a famous writer for writing her thrilling dreams about magical horses.

    The Mossback

  • Ashweee

    @ Hey Lady

    the problem with your theory is that no one above 17 should read them either.

    I read almost to the end of the 3rd book, I just could not go on it was so awful. The second was the best out of them, but that’s not saying a whole lot.

    Stephanie Meyer simply wanted to capture the magic that J.K. Rowling did but she failed miserably. The acting is just awful, I don’t expect better in the next movie either.

  • http://nerdaverse.com theButterFly

    Paul, an excellent review. I like you analysis of the film and the fact that you avoided simply falling into the “Twilight” bashing brigade and gave honest criticism of why the movie does or does not achieve success. Bravo as always!

  • illeaturfamily

    paul, i have not read the books but i have seen the first movie. my girlfriend made me watch it. i was allowed to play my DS during the torture, thankfully.

    anyhow, thank you for the synopsis. i now feel as if i could hold a valid argument against the gf without reading the books or seeing the second movie.

    i also agree with the folks crediting you of writing a review backed by examples of happenings in the movie instead of just outright bashing the crap out of the flick. i mean, yeah its one thing to say “this movie blows whale dick,” but it’s another to actually explain why. so thank you, but i think we should get back to xbox reviews!

  • Pingback: Unreality - The Most Accurate New Moon Poster Available |

  • Yucky

    I havent seen the movie, but i will. I hate a lot of shit of that franchise, the books are awful to me and the movie sucks so hard. But somehow i have “hope”? for the third movie.. and its not because of the plot, or new actors or whatever, is because the director, Chris Slade i think he made an excellent job with an actually good vampire adaptation film “30 DAYS OF NIGHT”.

    I think somehow the director could change a little the horrible story and turn it in to something aceptable. But that seems so difficult so far.

  • Jules

    This is one of the best written reviews of New Moon (at least, from the ones I’ve read)

    The Twilight series (books and movies) being such a hype, those movies just about always will get very critical reviews in an attempt to burst the inflated bubble. It makes sense.

    However, many of those scathing reviews are as superficial as the books and/or movies they’re reviewing in the first place.

    I read and liked the series. Not that I consider it to be great literature but it’s good fun anyway. I started reading the first book when New Moon wasn’t even published, without being aware of any hype, let alone that movies were going to be made.

    The Edward / Bella story was intriguing enough (which is why I kept on reading, I guess) but it bothered me on several levels.

    Bella accepts the fact that he’s a vampire with stunning ease. (how can she later on, say of Jacob that he’s a killer when she discovers that he’s a werewolf and dismiss it with ease when she discovers that Edward is a bloodsucking, undead creature?) If it were up to me, the realisation that vampires do exist would freak me out big time, regardless of how attractive he is. The fact that Edward finds the sent of her blood to be almost irresistable and like a drug doesn’t bother her. Why isn’t that weird to more readers of the books?

    Edward is born in another era and since then, he has gathered a lot of experiences and knowledge. What on earth are Bella and Edward going to talk about? Well, for now, they don’t really talk, they do little more than stare at each other. However, to me, it just seems that they’re in “lust” and not in “love”.

    How can Edward be anything else than condescending to her since he can be her teacher in just about every matter? It’s inevitable. However, if I were Bella, being told often enough to stop being stupid/silly/naive/…would tick me off after a while. I’d look for somebody I can relate to.
    Why is he so overprotective to the point of keeping information from him because he thinks that she can’t handle that? I could go on for a bit.

    However, it’s clear that Jacob was only written to give the Edward and Bella relationship some edge. It’s ironic that he’s the most rounded and interesting character in that love triangle. Like you said, his character is thrown off the deep en and even cast as the villain at times and as much as the author tried to explain the imprinting on a baby thing, it still creeps me out and it still looks to me like an easy way out. A more experienced author would have found a more clever solution, I think.

    Anyway, before I take this rant any further, thanks for this review.

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