I apologize in advance for the rant to come. Over Thanksgiving, I was taken to see “New Moon,” not entirely against my will, but certainly against my better judgment. I had not read any of the books, nor seen the first film, though I hit the ‘pedia to confirm that what I thought I knew of the plot (Girl meets vampire, lots of pining, vampire sparkles, pining, baseball, sparkle, pine, fin) was indeed the sum of it.
I went in expecting, at the very least, a cheesy good time, some OTT high school romance histrionics, and some hot vampire on werewolf action. What I got was more than two hours (MORE THAN TWO HOURS) of the dullest, most joyless navel-gazing I’ve ever had to sit through.
I know I can get prone to hyperbole here, but in this post, my vitriol is entirely in proportion. Picture twenty minutes of the following conversation, punctuated by a thirty second snippet of action, followed by a shockingly immediate return to… more… stilted… talking. Rinse and repeat about fifteen times.
Edward: “… I need you so much. I promise I will always protect you.”
Edward and Bella stare at one another
Bella: “I need you too. So much. I always will”
Edward: “But I can’t anymore. I have to go. You’re not good for me, Bella.”
Edward and Bella stare (conspicuous lack of eye contact)
Bella: “…. Why? Why do you have to go?”
Edward: “You’re not good for me. I have to go.”
Staring. Cue Grizzly Bear song.
I mean, honestly. This is the great love story of our age? This is the movie that millions of screaming, lovestruck teens gave the biggest film opening in history? As Pajiba’s Dustin Rowles said in his scathing (and a bit girl-hating) review, “There’s never been a chasm so wide between the intensity of devotion to a film and what it actually deserves.” Salon’s Stephanie Zacharek puts it a bit more directly: “It’s a cheap, shoddy piece of work, one that banks on moviegoers’ anticipation without even bothering to craft a satisfying experience for them. Its pandering is an insult.”
There’s so much more that I could complain about. No one makes eye contact for the entire run of the movie. There is no narrative arc. The entire movie is shot in various shades of grey. New beasts are revealed, vendettas are pursued, and characters even die, and yet thanks to the editing, acting, and writing, it feels as though nothing happens. For a runtime, I might remind you, of more than two sodding hours.
Worst of all, the movie simply does not know how to have fun. The leads are ostensibly in love, and yet whenever they are together, they seem absolutely miserable. There is no campy winking, no sense of humor – even when Bella is having a normal conversation with a quartet of super beefcakey dudes who walk around shirtless all the time, it’s nothing but dour, drab, dull, dull, dull. Not even a hint of the irony or joyfulness of True Blood, despite a suspicious number of similarities in character and story. Just… nothing.
I’m convinced that the book is nowhere near as lame as the movie. Actually, I bet it’s pretty fun stuff, if you’re into angsty teen romance. The fault here lies elsewhere – The film’s director, Chris Weitz, ought to be ashamed of himself (he directed About a Boy, for crying out loud!). The editing team should’ve never signed off on it. If I’d written a book that got turned into that movie, I’d be furious. Kristen Stewart (who, if you’ll recall, I thought was so very good in Adventureland), needs to go out herself and track down a decent screenwriter and director for the next film, lest she forever be associated with movies this bad.
As tired as I am reading broad, lazy, more-than-slightly-misogynistic rants about the Twilight fanbase (see the first few paragraphs of the aforelinked-to Mr. Rowles’ review), I’m pretty appalled that this lifeless, joyless dreck is what all the squealing is about. Sometimes it feels like every time I defend popular culture, it thanks me by taking a huge dump in my living room.
And to think, I could’ve seen Fantastic Mr. Fox instead. Good lord.