Time to take on Team Jacob…
1. Where We Left Off, Why I Read the Book
For those who are reading this because they just saw “New Moon”, and didn’t read my first rant, let me recap. Originally, my motivation for jumping into the Twilight series, which would normally repulse me, was the inclusion of Dakota Fanning in the film “New Moon”. Once upon a time, I despised Fanning, but my mind was changed by “Push”. And I’m a serious critic and cultural historian, so in order to see “New Moon”, I had to see “Twilight”, and in order to see both of them, I had to read the books… so, there is where we pick up: having read “Twilight” and seen the movie (see journal one), I moved on to reading book two.
Now, there was some hesitation on my part to get into the book. Red, my good friend and spiritual advisor, is against this book. She says it is the worst i nthe series and that book four is where it’s at. Likewise, Manda the Jew says I’ll like book three the best. The only person who seems to like “New Moon” the best is Robert Pattinson, and his opinion means about as much to me as an editorial in The Onion.
But, again, I’m a serious critic, so I tried to read it… and failed. I had to resort to the audio book (first audio book I EVER listened to), which isn’t much better.
2. The Story
The story of “New Moon” really isn’t all that great. Or, at least, they decided to make the good parts minimal and the romantic parts lengthy. I know this was sort of the idea, but here’s the thing: if you want a story that will have mass appeal and burn out within a few years, write to a small generational audience. If you want to be remembered in ten years, write with some actual talent and originality. Anne Rice? She knows vampires. Poppy Z. Brite? Sure. Stephenie Meyer… will be forgotten.
I am under the impression that Meyer gets paid per page or something. The section where Jacob explains to her how to use a clutch goes on and on… is this necessary? In the end, the book is larger than the first with no really good reason. The story could be summed up in one hundred pages.
The inclusion of werewolves is fairly stupid. Sure, you saw it coming if you read the first book (there’s a dream sequence where Jacob transforms that’s not in the film)… but why? I can suspend my belief that vampires are fake for the sake of the story. But vampires and werewolves? In the same city? And one girl happens to fall in love with one of each, but no other person, human or otherwise? The stretch of the imagination is daunting. And the werewolves seem to serve no purpose — the Indians could be anti-vampire without being wolves. It’s not even a clever metaphor. The vampire thing made an attempt to show the dangerous and exciting love of teenagers… but werewolves? “Ginger Snaps” tied it in to puberty in a clever and satirical way. But here… no real purpose other than to throw in a second creature.
If I wanted vampires versus werewolves, I’d watch “Underworld”. But, of course, that story actually took place in a fantasy world where the creatures make sense.
In the first journal, I accused “Twilight” of being a pale shadow of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, comparing Edward/Bella with Spike/Buffy. The vampire and high school girl connection and the dangers of the romance were obvious… well, sadly, I have to invoke “Buffy” again.
There is some discussion of souls, and Edward’s desire to save Bella’s soul by not turning her into a vampire. Bella, meanwhile, doesn’t seem to believe in souls and the other Cullens (with the exception of Rosalie) are in favor of turning her into a vampire, which implies to me they don’t have much concern for her soul, either.
Souls and vampires were again a key plot point in “Buffy” and “Angel”. Both Spike and Angel wrestled with losing their souls and trying to regain them. I really hope they don’t find a way to give Edward a soul, or I’ll be let down quite a bit. Why is “Buffy” better than “Twilight”? Well, many reasons, but here’s a sample from Wikipedia: “In Season Seven, a re-ensouled Spike must cope with the guilt of his past actions and try to win back Buffy’s trust. When Buffy asks him why he had fought for his soul, Spike first replies, ‘Buffy, shame on you,’ and then explains it was done in an effort to become the kind of man she deserves.” Yep. Edward and Carlisle and the others are already good, even without souls. So why bother having one? Spike, on the other hand, murdered and raped… and became guilty when his soul returned, and still tried to make a relationship with Buffy work. That is emotion: guilt, redemption, love overcoming obstacles. Not the wussy, sappy puppy love of “Twilight”.
The Volturi are extremely interesting, but play too small of a role… and until I read the next book, I’m going to assume Anne Rice’s vampires have a cooler leadership.
Lastly, you may recall from the first journal that I was a member of Team Mike Newton. This has not changed. Edward is a threat to Bella’s life, Jacob is a hot-tempered foe, being with either one will upset the other. Mike Newton? Perfectly normal guy, friendly… maybe a tad wussy, but a good companion in the long run.
3. The Film, Part 1: Erin’s Thoughts
My good friend and co-worker Erin saw the midnight showing a day before I went and shared her thoughts with me. I would like to pass them along, because she’s a die-hard fan and hearing it fro mthe perspective of a female fan offers something I can’t offer coming from the critical angle. Here is a sample of what she told me:
“New Moon was great for me. And Dakota is beautiful in it. Her character really doesn’t give her a chance to show her acting skills but I think she does a perfect job a being Jane.”
“Bella does some terrible acting in this film. I didn’t know you could mumble all your lines with a blank expression and still be paid so highly. And I am sorry, but Pattinson is way too hairy to be a hot vampire. Vampires just shouldn’t have hairy chests.”
If you drink every time Bella bites her lip, “You’ll be drunk before its half over. If you can get past the lack of chemistry and acting from the main characters it’s a good movie. I especially love Bella’s dad. I think he stole every scene he was in with her. Of course she didn’t put up much of a fight.”
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson “are very bland on screen. You go there expecting the best meal you ever had and you end up getting white bread and water. And your bread is stale.”
“I am all about Team Jacob and Edward can get his not-hot head taken off by the Vulturi any time now.”
“I loved the movie, but I also love gratuitous use of hot, shirtless guys. I can say that it was way better than the first one.”
“I think they could have had mannequins play some of the bad guy vampires in the films though because they don’t do much but look good and stand still with red eyes.”
4. The Film, Part 2: Gavin’s Thoughts
I went to the film opening night with a group of people (including Red, Mouse and Manda the Jew) and would like to share my thoughts. First of all, I agree with pretty much everything Erin said. I wouldn’t say I went there “expecting the best meal”, but otherwise this sounds about right.
Michael O’Sullivan of The Washington Post gave the film a respectable two and half stars out of four, praised Kristen Stewart’s performance in the film and wrote that the movie has “melodrama that, at times, is enough to induce diabetes”. As I write this, IMDB has the film sitting at a putrid 4.4 out of 10, one of the lowest scores I’ve ever seen for a new release, especially one so popular. Perhaps the target audience doesn’t use the Internet?
For those who went based on the preview, or want to, be warned: the trailer is grossly misleading. Pretty much all the action and suspense were fit into the trailer, meaning the bulk of the boring parts are left for you to discover on your own. There’s too much romance and sap, which the girls will probably love (I would have cut at least five minutes of the “I love you” crap put), but there’s also great humor and good references for the guys dragged along to this. The fictional film “Face Punch” had me almost falling out of the seat laughing. Horror fans!!!! There’s a semi-subtle reference to “Dawn of the Dead” and its critique of consumerism. Very odd. And even “Pontypool”, one of the year’s best new horror films, gets a small cameo (look closely).
The budget was obviously bigger than the first film, and I’m happy to say the budget was better used. I didn’t particularly like the special effects with the wolves… I mean, if “Jurassic Park” looked more real in 1993 and “The Thing” in 1982 looked amazing… why does CGI always seem to be little more than a cartoon these days? That’s a mystery I want solved.
Writer Melissa Rosenberg saves the day again, adding depth to the story that Meyer lacked in the book, and director Chris Weitz made a nice balance of the romance and action scenes.
In the end, though I hate to admit it, I liked it. Not saying it’s a good film — it’s NOT!! — but a good time.
5. Pumped For Eclipse!
Welcome David Slade, director of the dangerously controversial “Hard Candy” and the deliciously bloody vampire tale “30 Days of Night”. This is the man tapped to direct “Eclipse”. Now, unless Slade is a sellout, this should prove to be a turning point in the “Twilight” series. Sure, at PG-13, we can’t get too bloody. But maybe just enough to turn this into a real vampire tale… Bella is over 18 now, time for some adult adventures (and I mean that in the clean sense). Bring me the trailer… I will be there opening night!