Nov 23 2009
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
“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
It appears they made Kristen Stewart watch her own performance.
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