I should have known better than to wait until the day of to try to get tickets to the latest installment on the Twilight saga, New Moon. Even in my small college town, tickets were sold out for a solid three days after the initial midnight opening – and don’t even get me started on the neighboring cities. “This had better be worth it,” I huffed to one of my friends, after our third attempt at getting into the movie had failed miserably. I was finally able to see it on Thanksgiving, apparently the trytophan kept the Twihards at bay for a day. So was it worth the hype?
In short, if you’re a Twilight fan, then yes. If you’re not…then no. Without giving too much away, the basic premise is this: Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart are back for the second installment in the four-part tale of Edward and Bella, teen lovers whose games of footsie underneath the table during Biology lab are made all the more complicated by one minor detail: she’s a human, and he’s a vampire who has to make a conscious effort every day not to kill her. After getting over the initial humps during the first movie (meeting the parents, saving Bella from being eaten by a hunger crazed vampire, going to prom, the usual) Bella and Edward seem ready to settle into normal life…or after-life, if Bella has her way. She begs Edward to change her into a vampire, only to be blocked time and time again by his stubborn opposition to the idea. After a paper cut (which was honestly the biggest, most dramatic “paper cut” I’ve ever seen) nearly turns her 18th birthday party into a crime scene, Edward and his family decide that the best thing to do is to leave their town of Forks behind, so that Bella can live a normal, non-threatened life. This of course requires Edward to break up with Bella, who is sent spiraling into a deep depression. She’s brought out of her self-imposed black hole by Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), the son of a family friend who lives on a nearby reservation. Their blossoming friendship proves therapeutic for Bella and her bleeding heart, until one day Jacob goes through a change that drives a wedge between the two forever.
Though this is the second in a series of movies, the Twilight saga is no Lord of the Rings. Significant changes are apparent in this installment, including the directorial switch (from Catherine Hardwicke to Chris Weitz) and the biceps on Taylor Lautner (who had to beef up for the role in order to keep from losing it to a former – and cocky – red Power Ranger. No joke.) The changes worked well for the sequel, which thankfully wasn’t plagued by the same campy vibe as its predecessor, taking on a darker, more serious tone. This may be thanks in part to the fact that Bella’s school friends played a much lesser role in this installment, which was a relief. There was only so much of Bella’s self-absorbed frenemy Jessica (Anna Kendrick) that I could take. The soundtrack has also improved, featuring music by OK Go, The Killers and Thom Yorke.
The same can’t be said for the acting, however. Despite (or maybe, in spite of?) his legions of pre-pubescent fans, Robert Pattinson still seems bored half to death, going through the motions of every line with the same monotoned indifference as his co-star, Kristen Stewart. Are these two in love, or are they being blackmailed into pretending to be? Their breakup scene was painful, but not for the reasons it should have been. If a guy ever broke up with me like that, sounding like he was reading off of cue cards positioned somewhere behind the back of my head, I’d be livid. Thank God for Taylor Lautner’s Jacob, who lights up the screen with his megawatt smile, washboard abs and playful, energetic persona. His character is the one glimmering sign of life in this bleak, cloudy universe – and no, I am not Team Jacob OR Team Edward. I’m more Team Taylor-Lautner-call-me-when-you’re-legal. But that does not in any way color my perception of this movie and is beside the point.
I’ve read all four of the Twilight novels, and truth be told, New Moon was my least favorite. That aside, the film adaptation did an excellent job with sticking to Stephanie Meyer’s pages. The Volturi, especially, were almost exactly how I’d pictured them to be in my head. For that reason alone, I’d say it’s worth it for Twilight fans to check out New Moon. If you aren’t a fan of sparkly vampires or Kristen Stewart’s extremely limited range of emotion, however, you may want to save your money.