In the battle of the varied mythological creations, Vampires have for centuries captured the imagination of people around the world. Novels, films, theatrical productions and poorly-decorated costume shops have enjoyed success based upon their existence, proven or not. Likewise the Werewolf, natural enemy of the Vampire, whose moonlit howl still sends a tremor down the back of even the most hardened myth-lover. Bringing these two epic creatures together in one film franchise has most of the female population of our planet all in a tizz. Why? Are the men they encounter in the real world really that bad?
Based upon the second of Stephenie Meyers’ “Twilight” novels, “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” brings us more teen-angst between heroine Bella and her vampiric love interest Edward. When Edward decides to take himself out of the picture after a potentially fatal attack from one of his blood sucking brethren, Bella seeks solace from her anguish in the company of Jacob, a young Werewolf. “New Moon” broadens the narrative scope of the “Twilight” saga, both in terms of its relationship focus and the action quotient, which is amped up considerably this time around.
The Defending Champion
Romantic, epic, teenage-oriented love story, “Twilight” became the new it-franchise of the moment, succeeding where “Harry Potter” had begun to flounder. With it’s captivating story of illicit love between a human girl and a monstrous, 100-something year old Vampire, young girls and women around the world swooned in the breathless, sexually charged relationship that idealised romance once again. Bella, a human girl, is “irrevocably” in love with Edward, a Vampire who lives in her new home town of Forks, Washington State. As she is slowly drawn into Edwards world, the realisation of just how dangerous he can be, and how much peril she is now in, becomes clear.
Staggeringly successful book series becomes a staggeringly successful film franchise, with Summit Entertainment capturing a new market for those growing out of “Harry Potter.” Directed by two different people, “Twilight” by Catherine Hardwicke, and “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” by Chris Weitz (co-director of “American Pie”) both films have their own style, their own rhythm, while maintaining a similarity in purpose. “Twilight” is predominantly a love story, mixed with some hints at danger (a kind of James Dean-esque rebelliousness Bella displays when she finds out her boyfriend is actually a Vampire) and a tantalising scope of something larger at work. “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” takes the setup of “Twilight” and twists the viewer through a series of angsty, teen-romance-novel style plot devices to mix things up, particularly when it brings in Lycanthroipc third wheel Jacob, an American Indian who becomes Bellas touchstone to the real world, if only for a moment.
“The Twilight Saga: New Moon” is a more testosterone-injected affair, less reliant on the cuddly-wuddly doe-eyed look “Twilight” seemed to have, with an energy the original film managed to eke out only in it’s final moments. The Werewolves are entirely CGI, and average CGI at that, although the effect is hardly the downturn you’d expect. Taylor Lautner becomes the new heartthrob on planet Earth simply be removing his shirt a lot, which is okay if you’re a female, less so if you’re not. Director Weitz really has a handle on these characters and the essence of the Meyer source material, something I think Hardwicke was less inclined to encourage. Whereas I thought “Twilight” was a meandering, unfocussed shemozzle (mainly due to the lack of character development screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg could draw from the original book), “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” has a real edge to it, a sense of urgency that moves the narrative along. Both films follow the source material reasonably closely, with the exception of a few minor scenes, and the cast generally do well with the script they’re working with. Special mention to Michael Sheen, as Aro, a charismatic and charming Vampire elder, and Dakota Fanning as a blink-and-you’ll-miss-her Vampire chick with powers far beyond anything the franchise has seen before.
I think the direction Weitz gives “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” is well thought out, a stylish and moody atmosphere of teenage angst and loneliness permeating the very core of the film. “Twilight,” meanwhile, seemed a confusing muddle of ideas which never gelled into a fulfilling whole. Both films have their weaknesses, it’s just a question of which films weaknesses are weaker than the other.
Where “Twilight” was the precursor to the action, “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” is the action. In terms of depth of character and narrative development, The Twilight Saga: New Moon is far and away the superior film. It’s hard to imagine not watching “Twilight” before seeing “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” anyway, but as far as overall quality of each, then I award the points to the latest in the series.