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The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009) -vs- Twilight (2008)

Rodney Twelftree, Contributing WriterThe Smackdown

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?

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The Challenger

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.

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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.

The Scorecard

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.

The Decision

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.

About Rodney Twelftree 25 Articles
Rodney is Movie Smackdown‘s Man Down Under. He’s a proud Aussie who, unlike that other famous Aussie film guy named after a reptile, does not wear a leather hat, carry a big knife or wander about in the Outback. He lives in Adelaide, South Australia and, with all the time he saves by not wandering in the Outback, he watches movie after movie. Then he writes about them because telling everyone individually what his opinions are would be too time consuming. Rodney spends a great deal of his time justifying why he enjoys Michael Bay movies.

9 Comments on The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009) -vs- Twilight (2008)

  1. DONT TALK BAD ABOUT THOSE CHARACTERS im only talking to the person who bagged on edward jacob and bella which might as well bag on the whole thing

  2. Having just read the last of the Twilight novels, Breaking Dawn, I am so glad it’s not me trying to turn that into a coherent film script! Good luck with THAT Ms Rosenberg…

  3. Remember the movie is based off the book, so if anyone should be criticized it should be Stephanie Meyer who wrote the story in the first place. I think Bella’s feelings are compltely valid. I don’t think the movie is showing that if a school girl can’t have a boyfriend she might die of lonliness. And especially for anyone who has lost their first love… usually it is the most devastating. I think what she is feeling is what other people would feel as well, especially because she was accepted by his family so quickly. Anyone would be depressed and lonley if the love of their life broke up with them and told them that they were leaving for good. You really can’t help who you fall in love with.

  4. Let me just give a shout out to my friend Melissa Rosenberg who, during an economic recession, has managed to write not only these two mega-successful TWLIGHT films, but also to write like a fiend on DEXTER! Wow!

  5. Having recently read New Moon, Randal, and by recently I mean last week, I can state with some authority that the angst of the film is a direct correlation with the angst and “loneliness” factor of the original book. I agree with you though, with all the crap Bella goes through, maybe she just ought to settle for a human fellow instead of one who is more likely to kill her.
    Although, if somebody tells you that you’re their own personal brand of heroin, in a breathy, sexy kind of way, the way Edward did in TWILIGHT, you ain’t gonna look too far afield for a while! LOL!!!
    Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg had some of the most diabolical dialogue to work from in Stephenie Meyers’ novel, which is filled with poetical flourishes and teenage-heightened love-pap. It’s truly dreadful at times, and I think Rosenberg manages to minimise the damgage to a certain extent. Still, I can understand your view, as had I not read the book, I probably would have felt the same way!

  6. Wow. I must have seen a different movie. While I admit “New Moon’ was brilliantly aimed at the adolescent female audience, as evidenced by the fact that none of the boys wore a shirt the entire film, it contained some of the most laughably bad dialogue in quite some time. The message of the movie was also less than positive. If a high school girl can’t have a boyfriend she might die of loneliness. Here’s another tip for our heroine if she absolutely needs a boyfriend: try finding a guy who is not a vampire or a werewolf. It might make for a more healthy and stable relationship.

  7. “…the glitter-twinkly benign My Little Pony vampire Edward…”
    I laughed out loud!
    That’ll get me through Thanksgiving!

  8. “Teen lust and longing never goes out of style, and what tween or teen doesn’t mistake her hormonal moodiness for depth and character?”
    Possibly the best explanation for teenage moodiness I’ve ever read, Sherry!

  9. Agreed. Neither one exactly floats my particular midlife boat, but the effects in New Moon are at times quite beautiful. While Ms. Stewart’s mopey characterization of emo Bella rubs me exactly the wrong way, I understand why her legions of fans identify with all that longing and angst. They wish they too could be so long-suffering and torn between the glitter-twinkly benign My Little Pony vampire Edward and devoted lapdog (oops, I mean werewolf) Jacob. Teen lust and longing never goes out of style, and what tween or teen doesn’t mistake her hormonal moodiness for depth and character? The franchise metaphors work their magic, and the hunks bring ’em back for more.

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