Thursday, December 3, 2009

Spotlight Review: The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Spotlight Review: The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner
Director: Chris Weitz
Release Date: November 20, 2009
Running Time: 130 mins.
MPAA Rating:
PG - 13
Distributor: Summit Entertainment

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Sequels are inevitable. Movie fans demand continuity and studios rely on tested formula to make money. Summit Entertainment's franchise (and biggest money-maker) The Twilight Saga has launched the marketing drive for its second movie New Moon way ahead of its release. This is not because the whole series is in jeopardy or because fans demanded such intensive coverage, but simply because shrewd business strategy suggests so.

Directed by Chris Weitz, New Moon continues the love story of Isabella Swan and Edward Cullen, two lovestruck teens who fell in love, despite the fact that, one of them is not human. In this sequel, Edward left Bella in order to protect her from the danger posed by his family and other vampires. In Edward's absence, she gets to know Jacob Black, a childhood friend who happens to hold secrets of his own. Things get more complicated as vampires and werewolves and humans interact. Bella finds herself choosing between holding on to the past or accepting a new future. But what and more importantly who will she choose?

New Moon offers more action and thrills, CGI effects which are not necessarily goundbreaking but essential in putting shape and identity to Meyer's fictional characters and (of course) more cool music. Over-all, Weit'z follow-up suceeds in many fronts and also failed in some important areas, but it proved Summit's decision to replace Catherine Hardwicke justified.

While New Moon is a better movie than Twilight, certain unfulfilled promises remain. The most obvious and glaring is the script. The key word there is obvious, which means subtlety is something completely out of fashion. Cheesy dialogue is now becoming a Twilight tradition and that certain serious dialogue can turn comedic all of a sudden. At 113 minutes, Weitz pampers the fans but further alienated moviegoers outside its circle. Fans will settle for 213 minutes if they thought possible, while everyone else might want a shorter screening time. But these shortcomings are more technical rather than conceptual.

In almost every scene, you can feel Weitz's intention to remain faithful to the book, and he managed to insert his own directorial stamp too! - from the opening scene, to Edward's departure and Jacob's subsequent entry up to the thrilling confrontation in Italy between the lovers and the Volturi.

I was hoping to see Edward's anguish as he forced himself away from Bella. I also wanted to see Bella's descent into loneliness and desperation and her need to seek danger and thrills. I was also hoping to watch Jacob Black's tranformation into a warewolf and how love can be selfish and selfless at the same time. Rob, Kristen and Taylor gave me what I wanted and frankly even more than what I expected.

The supporting cast also did a good job, except in the case of Michael Sheen, who apparently looked ill at ease. I wondered, is this the same Michael Sheen who was terrific in The Damned United? With his smashing good looks and sex appeal, Jamie Campbell-Bower deserves more time on the spotlight, while Dakota Fanning, supposedly a bigger star than many in the cast, got a relatively short on-screen exposure to make a difference, but she did fine.

With more than $70 million box office earnings in the short span of 2 days, speculative, sexist and hostile critics and movie bloggers can say whatever they want and it will not matter a bit. In fact, if you're not a fan don't bother at all.

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[ Official Movie Site ]
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