Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wolves, Vampires, Humans - Can't We All Just Get Along?

Well, just came from seeing "New Moon" - the first movie I've seen since I've been home that merits a first-run movie review on my blog.

But before I get that far: To the ornery goth Wal-Mart cashier chick that gave me a crusty when I bought my $1 New Moon Sweethearts - I don't give you nasty looks when you go see your indie porno artsy crap. I'm having fun and I'm not bothering you. In fact, I'm probably paying part of your paycheck.

Okay - on to the review! Spoilers are a given - but if you're really the type who cares about being spoiled on New Moon, you have read the book multiple times and have seen the movie at least once by now. But it's a common courtesy I extend.

***SPOILERS BEGIN HERE*** Beware - this is LOOONG. I'd recommend putting a pizza in the oven before you start this. But I have a lot to say. Please read this in it's entirety. There are things that bugged me about this movie and things that I loved. And, being a bit cynical, I have to carp about a few things first.

Overall, I loved "Twilight" as a movie. It was the first movie I watched when I came home from my mission. I parked myself in front of the TV in my parents' room, shut the door and watched it on my own. Maybe the "on my own" part was key because "New Moon" wasn't quite the same. Don't get me wrong, I liked it well enough - it had it's high points. But there were things I missed. Or maybe it was pre-teen giggling that permeated the theater when Jacob took his shirt off. Please - have you never seen a shirtless guy before? Oh wait - most of you are twelve. At least, I assumed most of you are twelve. *trying not to think that maybe some of that twittering was coming from middle-aged moms... oy...*

Also - the music in New Moon didn't quite do it for me. For being based on a book for which the author depended a lot on music for inspiration, the soundtrack wasn't much to write about. Either in the movie or outside. Which brings me to another gripe about movie soundtracks in general: Why in the smell do you make a movie soundtrack that none of the songs on the CD are in the movie? That makes zero sense! I can see not including some of the songs from the movie on the CD, but the one song I do like on the New Moon soundtrack ("Meet Me on the Equinox" by Death Cab for Cutie) didn't make the movie at all! And ALL the music in the exceedingly well-done Twilight soundtrack made the movie, if only in the end credits. Feh...

Anyway - music - you guys had a perfectly good score in "Bella's Lullaby" from the first movie and I never heard any of it in New Moon. There were plenty of places you could have put it and you didn't. Even if you wanted to be symbolic and put a discordant version of it to emphasize that Bella's not doing so hot with the whole Edward leaving thing. Anyway - missed the haunting piano music from the first movie in this one. That, at least, would have tied this movie to the first one (beyond having the same actors and what-not - Harry Potter has proven that you can have the same actors in a series of movies, but they don't all fit together the way they should).

This is a problem with changing directors (Harry Potter has suffered from this as well). Each director does something so different with each movie and they don't even look like each other. I missed Catherine Hardwicke :( Her low-budget style worked so well in Twilight. This series really isn't that sweeping-epic-save-the-world kind of story. It's more personal and intimate and that's how it should be done.

Okay - done griping! There were some things about this movie I did find satisfying. Like the fact that Kristen Stewart's jumpy-Bella is reserved for when Edward is "dazzling" her. That was something about Twilight-Bella that drove me nuts - like she was unable to form complete sentences (or at least, form them in one breath). She finally did loosen up a bit around Jacob, which I can appreciate (and is almost enough to make me jump on the Team Jacob bandwagon. Almost). But Kristen still is a little awkward to watch. Meh - guess I'll get over it.

I've said it before about Harry Potter and I'll say it here: FLASHBACK!!!! MONTAGE!!!! YAY!!!! *does little happy goofy dance* This is how you get the most story in the least amount of time!! (Naw -DUH!) Even better when you use actual scenes lifted from previous movies to do it. I'm sooo stinking glad they got the picture in the Twilight series early (instead of waiting for the fifth or sixth movie like the jokers who are doing Harry Potter did - granted, there are only four Twilight books, but you get my point).

The part where Bella gets on the motorcycle with the psycho-biker guy was a little odd. Um... how did she get him to take her back to the theater? And why was Jessica still just standing there? Shouldn't she have called the police by then or something? Chris Weitz - can you say "plothole?" (crap, I said I was done griping...)

Beyond not calling the authorities when her friend gets captured by menacing biker-bar guys, Jessica's little spiel about there not being any hot guys or kissing in the movie they went to was priceless. Um, honey - you're kind of in a movie with kissing and hot guys. There are so many jokes with that.

Taylor Lautner is awesome! Until he has to be angsty. Then it's kind of embarrassing to watch. Like voyeurism - like it's something you shouldn't be watching. Not sure if that's a good thing. Or maybe I felt that way because I was in a theater full of people and the guy next to me kept slurping his Mountain Dew (to be fair, his girlfriend probably forced him to come. Take notes boys, there are certain women that use the "Twilight" litmus test - if you're willing to sit through the movies, you are worth a second look. If you read the books - it may be time to go ring-shopping). But I'm glad that he can do the whole "hero-don't-mess-with-my-girl" thing. The movie theater scene with Mike Newton was pretty funny.

Also - I was immensely happy that they didn't use the crappy "Bella - I would never, ever hurt you" line that they had in the trailer. For the first time, I was more pleased with the take that made it into the movie rather than the one in the trailer. The movie version wasn't as cheesy - it was sincere and I wasn't inclined to snicker at it. In fact, this helped Jacob's character in that he keeps berating himself for breaking his "promise" (to not hurt Bella), even though it's not his fault. You know that he means it and this is going to make "Eclipse" that much more interesting (don't screw this up, guys).

It's one thing to read the "bloodsucker/dog" banter between the vampires and the wolves in the books. It's something else to see it acted out in a movie. Alice's reactions to Bella being in league with the wolves was wonderful. Ashley Greene and Taylor Lautner deserve mad props for that. It had the potential to be horrible, but they pulled it off. *applause*

I never knew vampires to look so pasty and sick. Edward really let himself go over Bella. It says something for Edward and Bella's love when, after weeks/months of staring at ripped and yummily shirtless wolf-boys, Bella can still run after Edward's pale sickliness. (I never said I didn't appreciate the shirtless-ness; I'm just not a fan of the teeny-boppers' squealy giggliness that gets made fun of on The Jay Leno Show)

Quick Note: Obviously, the vampires have to wear lipstick. My roommate went with me to see the movie and we ended up sitting on the second row and she pointed that out to me (intelligent us didn't leave until 30 minutes before the movie started. I should know better - be at the theater at least an HOUR before the movie starts on opening weekend). Anyway, yeah. Lipstick on vampires. Sorry to ruin the magic for you all.

Oh - yeah, this is a love story - Cedric... I mean, Robert Pattinson pulls off Edward's angst over leaving Bella very nicely. When I read the book, I was ready to kick Edward's teeth in over his "I'm leaving because it's safer" BS. But in the movie, I actually wanted to give the poor guy a hug (which, is why we're in this situation in the first place, so maybe that wouldn't be such a good idea). I could hardly believe Bella believed Edward when he said that he didn't love her anymore - um, chicky-poo - don't you SEE the pain in his face??? sigh... That made the movie good - I can't get into it more without getting overtly mushy and cheesy - but it was great. Made it even better when Bella tackles Edward in Volterra before the nut shows himself in the sun (by the way - the sparkly-vampire effect is greatly improved over the last movie. We are now able to sparkle without wind chimes and without much fanfare, either).

Okay - the big fight with the Volturi at the end. Umm... some things I liked, others I didn't. Edward's face cracking????? Ummm... yeah... vampires are described as being like marble. It's not literal. Sure, they could destroy the Volturi's marble conference room-thing, no problem. But vampires don't crack and then heal. They just don't. That was just weird.

As was the whole fighting and the Volturi letting them all go. The smell??? The Volturi don't let people go! That was something I had a hard time accepting in the book, even without the fight between Edward and Felix (that was Felix, right?) I had to go back and re-read it and realized that Alice promised the Volturi that they'd turn Bella into a vampire. So, the book's version worked out fine, but you don't pick fights with the Volturi. It just doesn't happen.

Oh yeah, I know I said there was something I liked about this scene. Aro was damn good. He's supposed to be that sickly-sweet polite, but still be out and out creepy. When he touched Alice's hand to "see" her vision of Edward and vampire!Bella frolicking in the forest -the contrast between him and little Alice was startling. So, the Volturi themselves were very well-done. Oh - Dakota Fanning - that was typecasting, to say the least. She's always played the little creepy girl and it would have been a shame to not cast her as Jane.

Jasper has a sense of humor! ^_^ That was a happy thing to see at the end of the movie (question - does he have a southern accent too? I mean, he is from Texas). I was glad they had the whole Cullen family back in the house the way they were at the beginning of the movie - I guess that was tapping into the symbolism. Especially since I love Carlisle and Esme. There is simply not enough of those two in the books or movies. I think I like them so much because they don't get as much airtime. I'm curious about them.

I would have like to have seen Charlie's reaction to Edward coming back with Bella after Bella and Alice take off to Italy. Maybe it's in deleted scenes. Maybe they opted for the more tension-filled Edward and Jacob face-off - poor, poor Jake :(

I started to wonder how they were going to end the movie. There are so many things to wrap up, yet keep open for the next movie. But the whole "Marry me" and then end credits - that was brilliant. They didn't have a prom scene to end this movie, so this worked just as well. I can forgive the other crimes in this movie because of that.

All in all, "New Moon" has good points and bad. Kind of like the book - this is my least favorite of the Twilight books, but that's because I HATE it when the main love interest decides to go all "I'm being noble and going to save your life by leaving." Sure, it breeds plenty of angst for an author to work with, but it drives the fans nuts. Especially fans who KNOW that it's supposed to be Bella and Edward (but that's another rant about love triangles and titles and how it is that characters fall in love in stories) BUT - "Eclipse" is my favorite of the books, so they better not botch the movie (*cough* Prisoner of Azkaban Alfonso Cuaron SUCK!!! *cough cough*)

See you in "Eclipse" (which, there was a poster for in the theater lobby when we walked in. *grin*)

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