(I"m writing this at 12:49 in the morning, fresh from my jaunt from Los Angeles after watching "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" so if I may sound a bit blurry, I am! Oh, and there may be spoilers as well.)
Previously on "Twilight," Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), the human, falls in love with Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), the vampire. They fight bad vampires and they live happily ever after.
Now is the dawn of "New Moon," the sequel to the super-popular franchise based on a series of books by author Stephenie Meyer. The sequel begins with Bella's birthday and ends with her quest for immortality. At the center of the film is a love triangle between a human, a vampire, and a werewolf.
The movie's first five minutes is vibrant and full of life. Ironically enough, Bella's mortality is the crux of the film. In her dream, more like a nightmare (and she has many of those), Bella gets very old while Edward remains dashing and gasp, young!
Told in three acts, the first chapter involves Edward leaving Bella because he wants to protect her; The second act features Bella slowly falling in love with her best friend, Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who, as we all know by now, is a werewolf.
The third chapter of the film, and my personal favorite, involves an organized coven of vampires known as the Volturis headed by Aro played by Michael Sheen. The actor has now officially played both vampire and werewolf ("Underworld" films) roles. There's also a fun bit with Dakota Fanning as Jane, the bratty vampire who can inflict pain without even touching her victim.
There's been a lot of buzz about the two camps -- Team Jacob and Team Edward. Well, if you like your man tanned with a sunny attitude and you believe that friendship can turn to love, then heck, Team Jacob is for you.
If you love your man pale with a brooding attitude and you subscribe to the theory of love at first sight, then by all means, stake a claim to Team Edward.
But be warned Team Edward members, there's not a whole lot of Edward in the film. In the middle part of the movie, Edward has been reduced to being a "ghost of Christmas past" warning Bella of possible dangers.
Director Chris Weitz replaced Catherine Hardwicke, but honestly, I didn't notice any difference. The "Harry Potter" franchise has used different directors before and you could tell Mike Newell's ("Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire") style over Alfonso Cuaron's ("Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"), for example.
Hardwicke abruptly left pre-production last year and Weitz stepped in, and I thought, okay, this is interesting, let me see his take on the franchise. Well folks, there's not a whole lot of difference, just perhaps a bigger budget and better Edward glitter (vampires glitter under the sun).
I've read the first book, so logic tells us that I should be able to get into these characters right? Well, I still can't empathize with any of the main characters.
The acting borders between so-so and good, more in the so-so category. I've seen Stewart and Pattinson in other films before, and I've admired their work, but there's always something off-key with their performances in the "Twilight" films.
Once in a while, there's a burst of good acting that can be detected, and this time, Stewart out-broods Pattinson. Her character is the one with a lot of baggage in the new film.
Like the last film, I'm blaming the script by Melissa Rosenberg. Although it matched the book's tone, including some of the hokey dialogue, it failed to match its spirit. There's also the pedantic melodramatic Romeo and Juliet plot twist near the end.
But I'd be lying to you if I told you I wasn't entertained. I was interested in the mythology that Meyer created with the series, and most of these myths are reflected on the sequel.
And it was delight to see bad vampires and fierce werewolves!
I also love the great soundtrack and the peripheral characters. The standouts are Billy Burke as Charlie Swan, Bella's dad; Anna Kendrick as Jessica, Bella's friend from school; Ashley Greene as Alice, Edward's sister and the closest to Bella.
Even Nikki Reed as Rosalie Hale showed some depth with just a couple of scenes.
But who are we kidding here, the teenage girls will enjoy this film. And I think, that's one of my main concerns as well. The movie caters to its demographics way too much that it alienates other viewers -- here comes Edward in his slo-mo sexy walk (teens scream), or Jacob takes off his shirt (teens scream again!).
And the teens will definitely scream in the end with its cliffhanger finale. It will also get you, because it will make you want to see the third film. And isn't that the whole point?
Bottomline: Forgive its pandering to its demographics and you'll have a great time. Of course, if you like the first film and you enjoy the books, you will love this movie.
RATING: Vampires vs. Werewolves kisses
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