'Twilight Saga' gets more ridiculous with 'New Moon'

Article Published: Nov. 25, 2009 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
'Twilight Saga' gets more ridiculous with 'New Moon'

"I'm perfectly fine kissing a 100-year-old vampire who lusts after high school teenagers." Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon.'

The explosion of a franchise is always interesting to watch, as books or comic book adaptations become more than just films and turn into a cultural phenomenon. I had never heard of Harry Potter before the first film was released in 2001, and the tales of Batman, Superman and Spider-Man have already transcended generations. Just when you think nipples on the Batsuit killed the franchise, for instance, The Dark Knight became the biggest film of the decade.

The Twilight series, in terms of quality, has no place among these franchises. After watching New Moon, the second film in the series, I am utterly confused as to how this film set a single-day box office record ($72 million on Friday) and churned out $140 million for the weekend (third highest ever behind Dark Knight and Spider-Man 3).

All I can assume is that the books by Stephenie Meyer are great, providing the needed insight into these dull characters that the films do not. These are whiny, boring people, and they're not interesting enough to warrant spending two hours with.

The story follows Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart, Panic Room), who is a serious thrill-seeker. In the first film, she was drawn to Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) a vampire who is more than 100 years old and trapped in the body of a 17-year-old. In New Moon, Edward pushes Bella away, and she takes up with Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner, Sharkboy from The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl), who has recently discovered he's a werewolf.
This sounds like a great set-up, sure, but these people are seriously annoying. Stewart, who captured teenage awkwardness perfectly in Fierce People and Into the Wild, creates another believable character - until the script moves in ridiculous directions. Lautner is fine as Black, mainly because he plays it simple enough to seem real.

But Pattinson is horrible as Edward, a guy who is incredibly immature and melodramatic for having lived such a long time. I kept thinking about Kirsten Dunst's haunting portrayal of Claudia in Interview with the Vampire, as an immortal trapped in the immortal body of a preteen. Dunst found sadness in the character, the loss of youth combined with the eternal reminder of that youth, and it was heartbreaking.

Edward is just a drama queen, eternally forced to go to high school in different cities to conceal his identity. I guess being around high school students all the time has kept him on their level, because he's as moody, needy and emotional as your average 15-year-old. After 100 years, you would think he'd be mature, care free and exhibit all the qualities of a wise older person, but all Pattinson has to offer is whine, whine and whine some more, then act in illogical manners.

To be honest, I thought all of the characters reacted in forced, unnatural ways throughout both Twilight films. They're faced with bigger-than-life realities, but they don't seem to note the significance of them - they just run, wild and free, with whatever crazy notion they get in their head. At least Edward is gone for most of New Moon, bringing the level of melodrama down from "Ridiculous" to "Slightly Annoying."

Director Chris Weitz, who gained my respect with 2002's About a Boy, isn't subtle enough to make this material work. In one scene, for instance, Black is hitting on Bella in the parking lot while Edward stands, framed in between them, in the background. If this weren't enough to get the point across, Weitz cuts to a close-up of Edward looking jealous and suspicious (qualities most 100-year-olds have long outgrown), as if the first shot wasn't enough to relay the message
What's missing here is the sense of excitement. Young love is supposed to be fun, not boring.

The same can be said for vampires and werewolves. The Harry Potter films know this, creating lovable characters faced with exciting situations. The difference is that I actually care about what happens to Harry, Ron and Hermione and want them to succeed and be happy.

With the Twilight series, all I want is for Bella to ignore the boring men with serious issues, focus on college and settle down with a nice boy. It may not sound as interesting as courting werewolves and vampires, but considering the company she currently keeps I think she'd be pleasantly surprised with how enjoyable an evening grilling with normal friends by the pool could be.

New Moon is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone and the Parkway Theater in West Jefferson.

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