Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

What the name of disco dancing Jesus is Michael Sheen doing in this movie?  Michael Sheen is a real actor - he's not some teenybopper idol or a silly teenager obsessed with these stupid books.  He does better things than this!  Not one actor who has ever appeared in an Academy Award nominated film should ever be here.  Dude, you were in "The Queen"!  You were in "Frost/Nixon"!  What, did you make some bad Superbowl bets last year and desperately needed a huge paycheck?  Is this a birthday present for your daughter or something*?

Now that I've addressed that important point, this is a review of "The Twilight Saga:  New Moon".

Now the first thing you must have asked is:  why in the name of disco dancing Jesus is Blue watching "Twilight"?  And that is an excellent question, to which there is a simple answer.  I am something of connoisseur of bad cinema.  In fact, I go out of my way to find every single movie hailed as "the worst movie ever" just to hopefully one day find the very worst thing ever created by humanity.  For that quest, I have seen such gems as "Battlefield Earth", "Southland Tales", "Showgirls", "Troll 2", "Plan 9 From Outer Space", and countless Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes.  Since at the moment the Twilight series (or "Saga" as its apparently is called now), represents the very nadir of pop culture quality.  From what I've heard, this world that author Stephenie Meyers has created is the very worst of the worst.  An inhuman tract of complete madness in which you are guaranteed to despise each and every one of the characters as they act in horrid incomprehensible ways.

Unfortunately I was greatly disappointed.  This movie, as it weirdly turns out, is far better than the first film, "Twilight: Original Flavor".  That movie was so unbelievably awful that I could not even make it forty minutes.  "Twilight: Original Flavor" was so bad that my hair stuck up on its own and I was left pale and morose for an entire week - basically the 'Edward Cullen' experience.

Bella** and Edward make for a disturbing couple.  They both are quite clearly unlikeable from the start.  One goes from being a boring plain girl to just annoying when she's trying to be clever, and the other looks like he's in constant suffering.  Its enough that I wonder if its Edward as a character who is being tortured or perhaps Robert Pattinson himself.  Pattinson knows he'll never be able to get out of the shadow of Edward Cullen, and his career will be decidedly ruined once the Twilight Saga ends.  He doesn't look like he's enjoying his role, or his lines, or his co-star.  The Spoony One said it best:  "he looks constipated, and fucking YEARS constipated".  Neither have any charm, or any kind of warmth.  They're either suffering from that annoying teenage sarcasm syndrome or just plain old unhappy people.  And all they seem to do is make each other more unhappy.  Bella, from what I can see, has a very messed-up suicidal fetish, being immediately attracted to anything that can maim her or murder her or kill her, and hoping that whatever kills her will suffer greatly thanks to her end.  And Edward, who doesn't want to kill her, is constantly being tempted and manipulated by this crazy bitch looking for her own destruction.  Its a mutually destructive double-snake Ouroboros - each one looking to be devoured horribly in each other.

And maybe, just maybe somewhere in there, its true love.  Unlikely though.  Probably a far more screwed-up Freudian dynamic which is far beyond my own limited skills to diagnose.  The entire vampire thing is just a plot devise made to drive this insane relationship forward.  It doesn't have to be vampirism:  it could be AIDs, or maybe Edward could just be a psycho killer that murders teenage girls.  Does it make any difference?  I guess Stephenie Meyers was using the whole vampire thing as a symbol for the fear that teenagers have for sex, like if Edward bites Bella its just like if he finally made love to her.  But that's even more disturbing, isn't it?  Being bitten by a vampire = death.  Sex = Death.  Haven't we as a society moved past these kinds of puritan cultural complexes already?  Do we want to instill these sort of subconscious fears into our teenage population?

So that was "Twilight: Original Flavor", an extremely unpleasant movie starring unpleasant people trying to do unpleasant things to each other.  Its so unpleasant that the movie is entirely unwatchable.  But as for "New Moon" - that's a horse of a different color.  Oh, it still is a terrible movie, but there is one important thing that makes this one better.  And its a brilliant move on the part of the filmmakers.  That thing is:  Bella and Edward have virtually no contact throughout the entire film.  Robert Pattinson, despite supposedly being a star in this movie, is clearly playing third-fiddle

This is going to be a different kind of review, because my complaints are weirdly specific this time around.  Just saying "the plot is stupid" will not properly convey what I mean here.  We're going to have to recap the entire thing, just to find all that is broken with this plot.  Though I don't even know if I can say this movie actually has a "plot".  There isn't any kind of central conflict or enemy to overcome, or even much of a central idea collecting all the events together.  Its just all the weird stuff that happens to Bella during a long stretch of time.  So that means this review is going to be a really long one, in case you haven't noticed yet.

The movie starts with a "Romeo & Juliet" motif, which I immediately call foul on.  Unless Stephenie Meyers is interpreting literature's most famous romance as a mutually destructive snowball of complexes, this film has definitely not earned any comparisons to Shakespeare.  Because you're going to lose.  As if determined to prove how badly it can lose, "New Moon" begins with Bella dreaming of dying of old age while Edward stays young.  So in a selfish pursuit of eternal youth, she asks to be turned into a vampire.  Of course, she presents it in a such a way that it doesn't sound selfish:  "something is going to separate us Edward, I want to be with you forever!"  Come on, girl, you just met the guy what, three months ago?  Not only have you made a life-time commitment (without any sexual contact, by the way), but now you're committed for all eternity?  Vampire or not, you're going to set sick of each other.  Edward refuses because immortality sucks, I guess.  This entire plot point will now be forgotten for the remainder of the film right up until the end.

(By the way, this "immortality will separate us in death" theme was much better handled in "Highlander" to the sounds of Queen's "Who Wants to Live Forever?"  Forget about hearing any music as good as Queen in this film.  You're only getting weird slow Indie music here.)

Anyway, soon enough we move on to Edward dumping Bella nice and quick, probably finally seeing just how seriously disturbing their dynamic is. Here's where things get hilarious.  Bella, is SO in love with Edward, so unbelievably driven by her fatal attraction that she shuts down for three whole months.  She wakes up screaming in the middle of the night, now ruining her father's life (that poor guy, I feel so bad for him, having such a crazy suicidal daughter).  She starts hallucinating visions of Edward whenever she does something self-destructive.  Unfortunately this entire narrative is entirely Bella's point of view, so you don't get to see her father's love life strangled by his clinically depressed daughter, or whispers in the hallway about "man, Bella is seriously out of her damn mind, isn't she?"  Worse that means you're spending two hours with this annoying teenager and her boy troubles.

So finally, Bella decides to do something slightly constructive by manipulating her freakishly buff Indian friend Jacob into building some bikes for her.  Now Bella and Jacob actually seem to have some kind of chemistry on some level.  Or maybe they don't.  I can't tell, because Bella's last boyfriend was so pained by her presence that she could be going out with a sharpened wooden stick and it would seem like a better match.  Just the fact that Jacob isn't 24/7 limping in soul-crashing pain makes this whole thing seem slightly more believable***.  Shouldn't your romantic leads be able to stand each other?  Don't get me wrong, Bella still seems like she's as interested as the average high schooler during Calculus, but I could at least get my finger on what's running this relationship:  muscles.  Pecks.  Huge honking steamy masculine flesh and tendons.  If the guy playing Jacob in this movie isn't sleeping with six women a night after this, he is absolutely missing the most golden opportunity of anybody's life.  Yeah, Bella might be so madly and perfectly in love with Edward that she wakes up screaming for an entire season, but all that can be put aside just because Jacob is really sexy.  Despite that, the fact that this is your major interaction means that "New Moon" is at least watchable.  You aren't suffering with the actors for the entire time.

Oh, and Jacob is a werewolf.  That's sort of important.  I'm assuming that in "Twilight 3" this romantic problem will get even more complicated when Bella finds a new love interest that happens to be a mummy.  By "Twilight 7" we can have a whole monster mash of vampires, werewolves, mummies, zombies, creatures from the black lagoon, incubi, and Inuyasha.  Anyway, Jacob is going through werewolf puberty, which means that now he has to hang out with a bunch of shirtless dudes (for the rest of the film Jacob is constantly shirtless, by the way) and has to dump Bella.  This begins a long confusing run of romantic maneuvering and a few odd subplots that were most likely cut down from the original book that I will not even begin to explain.  Long story short:  werewolf Jacob finally decides he wants Bella, but then disaster strikes.  One of Edward's vampire brethren, a really cute girl named Alice**** played by the lovely Ashley Greene, has a vision where Bella kills herself.  So Edward has to kill himself now.

This also means that Edward is back for the rest of the movie, which means that all the parts I felt weren't absolutely horrible are now over.  We're back to Bella and Edward together.  Who will suffer the most?  The answer is easy:  me.

Now the only way that Edward can think to kill himself is to go up to the vampire world headquarters in Italy and talk with the trio of big bosses, one of whom happens to be Michael Sheen and ask to be killed.  It seems to me that it would have been easier to ask the werewolves to do it, but what do I know?  Sheen, doing his very best Dr. Insano impression, refuses.  So Edward decides to break the cardinal vampire rule of revealing himself to the general populace.  (That Edward has already revealed himself, his family, and most of the vampire customs to Bella seems not to bother Dr. Insano-Sheen.)  Edward's plan here is to take off his shirt showing his pasty white skin and then step into the sun during a parade.  No, it won't set him on fire like cool vampires, instead it makes him sparkle.  Yes, I said that right: sparkle.  Isn't that the stupidest thing you've ever heard?  Its definitely on my top five.  Well, Bella now has to fly to Italy with superhot Alice to save the day.  She winds up being maybe a second or two late, so even though nobody really saw Edward sparkle, he still has to be executed by the Dr. Insano Squad.

After being lead down to the dungeon by none other than a vampiric Dakota Fanning of all people, Edward is again interrogated by Insano-Sheen.  But he also moves on to Bella, and discovers that she's immune to all the vampire superpowers.  Yeah, each vampire has an individual power, that's important.  Edward can read minds, Alice can see the future, Nightcrawler can teleport, you get the idea.  But Bella is a special human because all those power don't work on her.  Michael Sheen can't read Bella's mind, Dakota Fanning can't make her brain explode, etc.  Yet oddly Alice can see Bella in the future, even though I thought Bella was immune to everything.  So then the Head Honcho vampires decide to kill Bella and Edward. But Bella asks that she be killed instead of Edward.  Hey, that plea isn't going to work here because the vampires want to kill both of you.  Yet somehow it makes Insano-Sheen emotional, and he decides to let everybody off the hook just as long as Bella is made into a vampire.  Bella is like "perfect!" since she wanted to be immortal at the start of the film anyway.  Then they go home.

So for some reason, Edward returns to Bella's hometown and they get back together.  Might I ask why?  Which one of your problems have you solved?  The one where Edward doesn't want to bite Bella?  Wasn't that freakish desire to be killed by each other the only thing keeping you too together?  What about the load of other issues you have?  What in the world has been solved by this movie?  Bella technically hasn't even been turned yet.  What have we accomplished?  I guess that's the wrong question to ask for two reasons:  1) this movie doesn't actually have a plot, and 2) it isn't over yet.

Oh no, there's more.  You might say that the entire Italy adventure was clearly the climax and we should be ending right about now, but then you aren't an international best selling author like Stephenie Meyers.  Who do you think knows better?  Anyway, Jacob comes back and tries to fight Edward for Bella.  But Bella cries, so neither fight and Jacob just goes home.  Then Edward proposes.  Curtains.

So that's "New Moon" for you.  Awful movie, not worth seeing, but not the worst film I've ever seen.  Not even the worst of 2009, "Transformers 2" has that distinction.  I don't really know what's left to say, other than this:  the sequels are going to be worse.  The only thing that made this movie tolerable for most of its running span was the fact that Edward and Bella had next to no time alone together.  However, with their problems now worked out (even though nothing was solved) they now are going to spend the next bunch of films leeching off each other's negativity.  All you can hope for is more hopeless unlikable people being hopeless and unlikable.  So unless "Twilight 3" is declared the worst movie ever even by the fanbase, unless its so bad they can't make a "Twilght 4", there's no way I'm watching another.  "Romeo & Juliet", huh?

PS:  I love you, Ashley Greene.

* Michael Sheen has a weird history of doing terrible vampire vs. werewolf movies to make family members happy.  He only appeared in the "Underworld" movies because his wife, Kate Beckinsale, was starring in them.  Of course, if my wife were Kate Beckinsale, I'm certain she could convince me to appear in an awful horror/action film.  But she would have to do a lot of "convincing".  *wink*

** Get it?  'Bella' as in 'Bela Lugosi'!  Ha. Ha. Ha.  I force laugh for Stephenie Meyer's pathetic attempt at a reference to the golden age of horror.  In fact, I don't even understand this reference.  I get that these movies are based on the classic Universal horror movies, at least in conception.  But they so badly twist the mythologies to the point of being entirely unrecognizable.  "Twilight" doesn't give a loving homage to "Dracula" or the "Wolfman", instead it digs their graves.  Luckily horror is already an undead genre, so vampires and werewolves should be fine once all this nonsense blows over in a decade.

*** I suppose this all means that I have now technically joined Team Jacob.  I never thought I'd say those words.  For a long time I thought the werewolf kid's name was "Billy".

**** Alice, hilariously, is everything Bella is not.  She's cute, she's funny, she actually seems like she's interested in other people, and she's just far more enjoyable as a character.  In fact, Alice is just about the only person in this entire movie that I liked, and that's only because she's so pretty.  Ashley Greene, I know this is your first big role, so hopefully you can move onto something better once this awful series has ended.  I'll be watching.  If Stephenie Meyers wanted to have a likable protagonist, here you go.  But obviously she had something different in mind.


  1. I can't believe that my mom actually bought New Moon for me, for Christmas last year. I didn't say anything of course(she knows little to nothing about Twilight or the illness it causes), but the fact that she bought me the book, solely based on the fact that I though vampires were awesome before "Twilight" was released made me sick. I don't hate the series by any means, nor do I like it. I put up with it. I actually read the first book(well, 90% of it anyway) and I'd say the story wouldn't be as bad if Stephanie Meyers hadn't written it the way she did. A first grader could read that book with complete comprehension(and they do) because there's really no creative, intellectual rhetorical implication in that book to even make you FEEL that it's good. Her style of writing itself, is bland as hell.

    Although, from what I've heard, it's not nearly as bad as the "Eragon" books, which I haven't read but seems to be so cliche and phenomenally stupid that even the author admits he uses a thesaurus and picks random words in the list to make them sound more complex. That's sad. No, you want a good author, there's JK Rowling(of course), Cornelia Funke(she wrote the "Inkheart" trilogy and "The Thief Lord"), or even Brian Jaques(he wrote the "Redwall" series).

  2. I once watched the original Twilight (I was only paying attention to the climatic battle: Alice shows up randomly and tears the bad guy's head off, accomplishing what Edward spent an entire scene trying to do in about five seconds), and the only reason it seems anybody watches these movies is to squeal when Edward shows up.

    Only ever saw the trailer for New Moon; I thought it was hilarious when Edward slammed Bella into the wall when she starts bleeding (physical harm is the best way to stop somebody from bleeding), but I was sad when he wrecked that piano. Such a lovely piano, ruined...

    On a completely unrelated note, I just finished watching Evangelion 1.11: You Are (NOT) Alone. I'm around Episode 10 in the anime, but so far I think I like the movies better. No idea who this Kaworu guy is, but he seems pretty cool.

    And wee187, Eragon is essentially Star Wars painted Fantasy. The Millennium Falcon is a dragon, Lightsabres are enchanted swords, The Force is magic, Ewoks are dwarves, Stormtroopers are orcs (called Urgals, though, to make it seem less like ripping off Lord of the Rings), and there are a million other similarities that I once pointed out to a friend to prove my point to him.

  3. The Eragon books are actually pretty good, even if they're sightly too long sometimes. Of course, me thinking that could be for the same reason as why I actually watched most of the Dragon Drive(that's a great tip for a crappy Anime, BTW, it's good at first but then loses track of its own story) series: I like dragons. And what's the deal with that picture?

  4. I didn't watch either, mostly because the entire cast was said to be unlikable. I heard what Alice was, and gotr interested. Until, I saw her, and released she was just Selphie; same attitude, same hair, and same annoying persona.

    My sister, who loves this shit, said that Alice was the least like her character from the book. I asked her why, but she said she was unsure. Maybe it's cause a bad character from a book can be turned great, apprently, by a great actress.

    Oh, and why is Dakota Fanning in this? She was big a few years ago. Why would she subject herself to this kind of movie?

  5. "Of course, me thinking that could be for the same reason as why I actually watched most of the Dragon Drive(that's a great tip for a crappy Anime, BTW, it's good at first but then loses track of its own story) series: I like dragons. And what's the deal with that picture?"

    Well, Dragon Drive's anime itself did indeed lose track of itself, but the manga is still actually being released in the US and like many anime/manga relationships, the anime doesn't follow the manga much at all, in which case the latter is far better.

  6. I haven't actually read any of the 'Twilight' books because they can only be far worse than the movies, but I have read some Eragon. About forty pages of it. Reading that book is like listening to Nickleback - entirely conventional, entirely forgettable, and entirely not worth any time.

  7. Whenever I see a girl (it's always a girl) reading or talking about the Twilight books, I tell her that lusting after vampires is technically necrophilia.

  8. Oh man, the fourth book was...extremely interesting. I won't spoil anything, but its one big mindfuck. We shall see if the last movie stays true to the book...cuz if it does...well I just do not want to know what they do.

  9. Also, I meant to ask, is the name Twilight the only reason you put a picture of The Legend of Zelda?

  10. michael sheen's daughter was quite upset with him being in twilight apparently. She was irritated he was trying to be part of her thing and through a teenage strop!

  11. oh and i did watch the film and wonder the same as anyone else... at what point did these lovers fall in love? When do they act like they are in love? How does Bella have friends?
    Oh and at the beginning of the film one of forgettable vampires used 'mood control' on Bella - is that not a power that worked on her? I know it didn't change her moody appearance but she felt it...? Or was this something that sprung out only to me?