Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Love Triangle Unleashed In New Moon

In the second installment of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, the romance between mortal and vampire soars to a new level as Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) delves deeper into the mysteries of the supernatural world she yearns to become part of—only to find herself in greater peril than ever before in The Twilight Saga: New Moon.

While this second chapter of Summit Entertainment's four-part franchise is as good as Twilight and arguably a shade better, it's indisputably darker in its depiction of the throes and woes of adolescent love, especially when one gets dumped. That's how things kick off for Bella Swan (Stewart), whose 18th birthday begins with a nightmare and ends with vampire heartthrob Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) telling her he's moving away, with no plans of maintaining a long-distance relationship. Bella quickly slips into a massive depression that resembles a full-scale heroin withdrawal, while her cop dad (Billy Burke) and barely visible school pals can do little but look on. As foreshadowed in the closing minutes of part one, help soon comes in the form of Native American dream boy Jacob Black,(Taylor Lautner), who's clearly been working out since the first film (as Bella remarks several times). Although they start off as friends, it's no secret where things are headed, and Bella engages in several near-suicidal acts that leave her torn between Edward's far-reaching grasp and Jake's bulging biceps. Bella and Jacob's growing relationship is paralleled by rumors of random animal attacks in the woods, as well as the increasingly menacing presence of Jacob's macho buddies (all of whom, like Jacob, prefer to remain bare-chested, especially after it starts raining). When vampires from the first go-round resurface to take revenge on Bella, a pack of colossal werewolves comes to her rescue, and it doesn't take a degree in occult studies to make the connection between the beasts and the boys. The movie's first half maintains a somber atmosphere that is broken by spells of PG-13 violence (a decapitation, a few gory closeups) and some nifty cinematic tricks, including a twirling 360-degree shot that shows the passing of time as Bella recovers from the break-up. Director Weitz, taking the reins from "Twilight" helmer Catherine Hardwicke, and lenser Javier Aguirresarobe painstakingly depict the gloomy, dreamlike state of Bella's extended blues, and then pick up the pace about an hour in with several action sequences set in the rain-soaked woods near Forks, Wash. As expected, Edward soon reappears, albeit for confused reasons, and the quid pro quo eventually carries the action to a royal Italian vampire council (known as the Volturi), providing some handsome locations and a brief turn by Dakota Fanning as a mind-controlling, heavily made-up vampiress. The shortcuts needed to propel the narrative homeward feel a tad rushed, but screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg wisely keeps things focused on Bella's ever-changing, mostly darkening emotional states, and whether she will end up choosing Edward or Jacob.

Stewart is the heart and soul of the film, and not only because her Bella is surrounded by characters who literally have neither one nor the other. She gives both weight and depth to dialogue ("You're just warm. You're like your own sun") that would sound like typical chick-lit blather in the mouth of a less engaging actress, and she makes Bella's psychological wounds seem like the real deal. Fangirls may be disappointed by Pattinson's reduced presence here, as his Edward appears predominantly in mumbling visions until a cliffhanger that brazenly sets up the next episode. Lautner's Jake provides a strong alternative to Edward's pale dreariness, though the filmmakers overdo the "strong" part in an ongoing effort to keep their target audience enraptured. This sequel is by far a step better than the first, but some fans may be a lil disappointed with some things that were left out from the book, but it gets the point across. Vampires and Werewolves are pretty hot. So, which team are you on? Team Edward or Team Jacob? Go and see New Moon and make your choice. I sure have. This gets a 4 on my "Go See" scale. It will undoubtedly become the number one movie this weekend. Tween girls are gonna flock to the theatre to see Edward Cullen, but i'm a bit more partial to seeing Jacob running around shirtless for half of the movie. 

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