Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Review: The Twilight Saga: New Moon (Yeah... That's Right)

Oh, my, oh, my... The Twilight Saga. What a tangled web we weave Stephenie. Yeah, whatev. The DVD is out, I saw the first one in theaters last November and now this one is floppin' around. I am an amateur film analyst right? Plus, these movies, like or not, are a big part of the American Zeitgeist right now. I owe it to myself to review things, all things, when I find the time. As long as it's on film (even though I have a feeling they skipped on 35mm film stock and used bubblegum straight outa the pockets of 12 year girls) it's open to be reviewed. 

So let's get started shall we?

What's the formula for this movie? Let's try to pick it to pieces!
  • Kickin' soundtrack dude-bra! (For that matter, product placement as a whole) Dolling out to the popular bands, or whoever is on the radio or set to blow up on it. Relate to your demo, sure fine. Just go ahead splice in some cock-rock over the 3 time academy award nominee and beautiful music. Don't forget to slow-mo the hero's initial "Cool guys walk like this," walk, to the break-down of the horrible crap! Although, the Radiohead paired in the forest hunt, was a very, nice, touch.
  • Long lingering shots of the stars and their silly, over-acting at times, pretty faces. We go wide. We go close. We push in from far away and then hold it. We have entire shots with no words, without discernible reason other than to portray the heart-ache of Bella. Yeah moms and daughters, sweat baby. Sweat. And in that case, let's take our shirt of (with loads of water or posing oil applied before hand) and give it to you to use as a hand towel for the blood on your head. Or, hell! A whole pack of tan semi-buff dudes that NEVER WEAR SHIRTS, and only cut off shorts. Cut off, denim, shorts.
  • When holding conversations, between oneself or more, pick a cinematographically sweet spot to converse in. The beach, in overcast, a humongous cliff face, in over cast, the forest, in overcast, the school parking lot, in over cast, cool stairs of the lobby, in dim lighting, the meadow, with high noon sun blazing down on the shimmering face of the pale skinned ones.
  • When transforming into a wolf, never explain what happens when they transform back to human, i.e., the clothes they had are gone, and how they reverse it. It's best to just have them scamper off into the woods. Or, with no shirt, run down the road like it's horse and buggy days all over again.
  • The script must have nothing but very clear explanations involved, everyone must be treated as if they are very mindfully dull. Dialogue must be short, to the point and have no jazz, pizazz or edgy zing. Just average teenage movie crap. The worse it feels to your ears, the better your doing. The story must have little surprises and no real feelings of dread or fresh uniqueness. Bravo Melissa Rosenberg. Now I know why I don't watch Dexter. (Who happens to be the sole writer of this franchise, [an extreme rarity in a multi-billion dollar franchise] she better be counting her blessings at night.)

As far as the bulk of the story is concerned, Stewart officially carried a huge movie tent-pole on her back, with ease. She's virtually in every shot of this movie. Exchanging glowering glaces and stares with Edward and Jacob. It's a pleasure to see Stewart embedding the nuances of love's subtleties. To see her lips curl ever so slightly every time the vamp (or American Indian) she loves so dearly comes near. Or the way she looks without looking directly, her hands don't have a place to be put, and she almost get's stupefied. Speaking of her love life; My God almighty, is this girl put through some legit emotional hell and back. This book/movie really worked her over good, like a bad Tyson fight son. Losing a lover? I've been there; we all have. Or... Well... Maybe we haven't all experienced--love-between-a-vampire-who-left-me-and-then-I-fell-in-love-with-my-best-friend-who-I-don't-wanna-commit-to-'cuz-it'll-ruin-the-friendship-plus-I-recently-found-out-he's-a-werewolf... love. But love just the same. And man, do I not want the struggle she's in. So in conclusion... Stewart is as good as everybody said she was. The pain on the paper she read, was personified in her performance, and it was--in the truest sense of the word--awesome.

Anna Kendrick, as Bella's by the by friend was more annoying then helpful to her screen presence in this film. But with her recent slam dunk in Up In The Air and snagging an Oscar nod, I wonder what the producers are gonna do for her next time around?

As far as the wolfman goes; Taylor Lautner showed me something, in and out of the movie. First, let's commend him for throwing on the weight, and really busting his ass to keep the role. Way to go. Seriously. Christain Bale, De Niro, Theron, they'd all be proud. Anyway. During the 130 minute run time, I found a few things with him, I like. He knows just how good looking that mug of his is, and knows how to accentuate it. Which also hurt and helped him, depending on the scene. Staying calm, going with a, "I know I'm hot and I talk cool, and chill. No big deal..." approach in his lines, was, appropriate given where his character goes in the this installment. But as a whole, he's good, but he needs work. Period. He has the potential to clean up his act to the point where he can show us just why he's still gonna be around (and the highest paid teenager with 7.5 a movie now). Just like someone else's career when he was young too... Less is more Taylor, you showed me that already, but just don't loose it man. Now given his off screen presence and exposure, his major celebrity and his truly astronomical sex appeal, this young man, is this decade's equivalent to Brad Pitt just outa Thelma & Louise. They both had a lot to learn about spitting lines out, and using their strengths, and not just falling back on their supreme looks. Yes, Lautner's now an international sex symbol of new age Hollywood classic proportions. As I heard in the movie, "The wolf's outa the bag..." Now let's see how he handles it. 

Pattinson does take the less-is-more approach... overboard. His melancholy demeanor is like dry chicken; it's still chicken, but damn is it a shame it's not juicy and tender, guess I'll just force it down. The Rog (Ebert) had this to say among other things concerning him:
"How white his skin, how red his lips. The decay of middle age may transform him into the Joker."
Michael Sheen does what he can to elevate Aro, the Volturi vampire lord, and it wasn't so bad, he's a very god guy. Dakota Fanning's ability to strut her stuff on screen was completely wasted. Way to go Chris and Melissa. Though, I'm sure the check she got was fat enough to where she doesn't much care about this ridiculous franchise.

This entire film has the mechanics of any run-of-the-mill soap found on daytime television. Which was the wiser choice to go with. It's a high school love story and nothing really more at it's heart; is there any other way you felt about your stuff in grade school then being stuck in some soap opera sometimes? Nope. Fuse that with werewolves and vampires and you have yourself some really interesting shit to sell. Stephenie Meyer knew this, and when she cracked her recipe for teenage love life, I'm sure she hit the roof, and then smiled knowing she'd be crushing her competition. There's now a whole slue of followers and copy-cats, trying to emulate the magic of the series in their own versions of young adult love. But those books aren't selling like these are. So, from a writer, to a writer, I'm complimenting her on a unique and very fresh way to tell a love story about teenagers. Roger Ebert is someone I have great respect for, I follow his work, and usually, we agree on the films we see. In his review for the first installment, he had this little gem to plug in:
"Come on now, what is "Twilight" really about? It's about a teenage boy trying to practice abstinence, and how, in the heat of the moment, it's really, really hard. And about a girl who wants to go all the way with him, and doesn't care what might happen. He's so beautiful she would do anything for him. She is the embodiment of the sentiment, "I'd die for you."
I have no doubt that one of the underlying subtexts of the movies can be concluded as just that: the importance of abstinence and sexual self-control at a young age. Did Meyer see that? Did she craft a subliminal message into her tales of mystical magic and young adult love? Who's to say but her. Either way, it works out pretty good. I'm sure, these books are terrific, the whole series has definitely made it's mark. But their target demo is a bunch of girls who have some "Twilight" (if you will) of there own going on: the brink of womanhood. So is the way these films are fashioned, geared to the blooming female youth of America. So speaking in terms for that category, how does an everything-teenage-girls-can-hope-for-movie sound to you? 

...Thought so.

Munki out.

P.S. Everything I said about this film, all the negative shit and bashing, while funny to me, (and very true), is also the reason that's it's very good, as far as what you'd want out of a series like this one. Weitz made a lot of the right moves and good choices in this tale he's crafted. So in that respect--this movie was amazing and probably knocked some socks off a lot of females worldwide. 

But that doesn't excuse it for being a melodramatic piece of teenage trash. 

Lol, so here's 2 outa 4 for being totally scared to take some chances with a movie series people have so much love for, they'll take it anyway they can get it. As long as you don't leave out important points from the books and keep the three lead actors in their roles, you can amp up the lameness into unique takes on the books territory. Those nervous-studio-nellies, all about the paper...

Munki (really) out. 

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