A celestial anomaly took place on Wednesday night. I encountered Twilight: New Moon and can actually say I enjoyed the film. I would be the last person in the world to go to bat for this flick, but the latest installment of the Twilight saga is a big improvement over the first film.
Although the film is noticeably better than the first film, it is still hindered by some horribly campy dialog, with Twilight screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg back for the second installment. The script incorporates more action, fleshes out the characters more, but still socks you in the gut with hilariously bad lines of dialog. It even seems that the actors are having a tough time not dropping a little giggle after saying their lines.
For the three people out there who don't know what New Moon is all about, here it is in a nutshell. Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) is devastated when her vampire lover Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) decides to the leave the rainy little town of Forks to afford Bella a chance at a normal life.
Falling into a deep depression, Bella turns to her childhood friend Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) in her time of need. But soon he too has a secret that pulls himself away from Bella, thus leaving her alone and more venerable to an evil that draws closer by the day.
Edward is led to believe that Bella has died, so he makes his way to Italy to face the Volturi, led by Aro (Michael Sheen) and Jane (Dakota Fanning), in attempt to have is immortal life extinguished forever.
While I liked New Moon, there was plenty about it that still made me cringe. Shoddy digital effects, bad dialog, serious scenes that make you laugh out loud, bad dialog, hokey camera work and oh yeah, did I mention bad dialog?
What this movie benefited greatly from is the separation of the lead characters. We don't have them looking longingly into each other's eyes for two hours. They're on separate journeys, with the bulk of the story revolving around Swan and the emotional rollercoaster she's on.
The first film, Twilight, is one of the toughest watches in cinema. The fact that I was able to sit through the full 90-minutes of its sequel and not have the sensation of wanting to vomit at every turn was unexpected to say the least. Despite some lags throughout the movie, New Moon is able to achieve a good blend of action and angst, along with some nice effects.
I could have done without the camera 'hit' when a couple of werewolves are crashing through the woods during their fight and I noticed two moments when the camera seemed to not be in focus. Small issues, but issues nonetheless.
Even with its issues, New Moon is a good film. I found myself engaged for most of the film and it has me wanting to see what happens to these characters in the next installment. With new director Chris Weitz at the helm, the movie is tighter than the original, but the news that he's not directing the third movie is a little concerning. Hopefully the vision will continue to move forward with the next films.
Pattinson, Stewart and Lautner give us characters that are more fledged out from their initial outing, with each bringing something new to the table. I thought Stewart's ability to convey the inner torment her character faced was nice and I liked seeing the transformation Lautner was able to portray in the role of Jacob.
Pattison once again shows flashes of his talent, but everything always seems right under the surface for him and seldom reveals itself. It will be nice to see what he can do once he's released.
The flick has some nice action sequences featuring werewolves and the Volturi, but the overall plodding atmosphere of the film is at times, a little tough to swallow.
Final Cut: New Moon is a vast improvement over its predecessor. Nice action sequences, coupled with improved performances from it three leads will make New Moon one of the top money makers of 2009
3.5 out of 5 stars
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
Director: Chris Weitz
Writer: Melissa Rosenberg (screenplay), Stephenie Meyer (novel)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence and action
Runtime: 2 hrs. 10 min.
In theaters now