Sunday, 22 November 2009

A New Moon rises

The movie of Stephenie Meyer's novel New Moon hit cinemas this weekend and created an awfully big crater, by all accounts. Not everyone was expecting the first night's box office to break even Perth boy Heath Ledger's posthumous Dark Knight takings. But it happened. New Moon took $72.7million in its domestic market in the first night of showing, which of course doesn't include the $10 that yours truly paid to see it Saturday night, two nights after it was released here in Australia.

I went to see the movie with two friends who have also read all four of Meyer's Twilight novels. So what do I think?

I was impressed that the script stayed fairly close to the books, and the places where it differed were generally not important to the story line or the several levels of interpretation one may see in it. I liked it more than the Twilight Movie for that reason, although cramming 500+ pages of novel into a two-and-a-quarter hour movie did leave me feeling a bit like I’d been run over by a Mack truck. I suspect if I hadn’t read the books several times, I’d have been as mystified by the reason for the romance(s) as I was when I saw Twilight for the first time (at that stage, I hadn’t read the books).

I have to say, Pattison’s eyebrow furrowings didn’t impress me in the first movie, and they frustrated me even more in New Moon. Does the man know of no other way of portraying emotion? He needs to watch a few episodes of Lie to Me!

There were at least four references to Romeo and Juliet, the classic that Meyer has said she based her second novel upon. They included the initial quote from the book’s epigraph, as a voice over at the beginning; Bella waking with the book on her pillow; and a scene where her English class watched the movie (not just Eddie and Bells at the Swan residence as in the book – one of the differences where the book story was changed but not significantly).Edward not only mentions his envy of Romeo but also, when called upon by the teacher, quotes pertinent lines from Romeo extensively. Weitz, the director, has obviously noted the importance of the literary references throughout the TwiSaga.

All four of Bella’s falls are portrayed, although the fall into the subterranean passage leading to the Volturi stronghold is minimised. No “Edward let me fall. … Alice’s waiting arms caught me.” (p458) There is an precious uncomfortable & awkward scene in an elevator instead – one of the best acted mini-scenes in the movie, I felt.

The heart-wrenching agony that Bella suffers is portrayed, but lacks depth and believability because while Kristen Stewart’s acting has improved since Twilight, it hasn’t improved nearly enough to inspire any level of pathos, or even empathy. It consists mostly of Bella thrashing around on her bed tortured by nightmares (no sobbing, just sudden hysterical screams) or staring blankly out of windows. The latter would have portrayed Bella’s zombie-state hole-in-the-heart nicely if it wasn’t for her apparent ability to narrate one-sided conversations with Alice and send them to Alice’s no-longer-useable email address. If only Stewart’s acting was as good as her makeup!
Lautner’s portrayal of Jacob – an overgrown teenager with a boyish face but the body of a man – seems fitting, if lacking the polish of more experienced actors. Jacob’s tortured “I’m not good” echoes Edward’s “What if I’m the bad guy?” sufficiently to illuminate their parallels.
The mystery of Victoria is resolved far too quickly. I guess they had to skip over something to keep the movie from taking longer to watch than the book does to read.

The vampires were well portrayed. Obviously someone had read Breaking Dawn and some of Meyer’s backstory explanations provided for fans, because the different personalities of the Triumvirate were clear. If anything, the throne room set was not gothic enough.Dakota Fanning, who plays Jane, is immaculate in her characterisation. The scene where she attempts to inflict pain on Bella’s shielded mind shows a masterful use of minimal facial expression – especially in contrast to Pattison’s pervasive eyebrow theatrics.

As Bella, Edward and Alice exit the Volturi throne room, the "food" arrives in what I thought was a missed moment. Two kids were in the group, a shocking inclusion (for me, anyway being a mum to four small kids) that owes nothing to Meyer. And absent was the confused woman gripping the rosary (p482). She is the one necessary inclusion in the group in the book because she clarifies the allegorical connection between the Volturi and the Catholic church, manifesting the LDS position that Catholics are apostate (& therefore their religion will only lead their naive followers to eternal death).

I've only touched on some of the symbolism inherent in the books here. You can find my previous TwiSaga posts under the Twilight Saga label. I'd like to post more, but I'll never make promises. So if you want to read more intelligent discussion about the TwiSaga and New Moon, enough to understand the movie & novel as something more than a love triangle between Plain Jane, a Vampire and a Werewolf, you need to check out what John Granger, the Forks High School Professor has to say. He's rapidly becoming my hero with regard to plumbing the literary depths of the TwiSaga.

So what do you think of New Moon?


Meredith said...

Can't comment on the TwiSaga.

But...I just tagged you for a Christmas recipe. Are you up for that?

Sharon said...

It doesn't involve giving out family secrets about my grandmother's pudding, does it?

Meredith said...

Well, if you want to share grandmother's pudding recipe I'm sure we'd all be grateful! But it isn't a requirement so if you want to share the recipe for the groovy salad you bring to the Christmas table then that too will be great.

Anything goes.

And you'll notice I didn't tag your blogging buddy this you can have the honours there!! :-)