sat 22/09/2018

The Twilight Saga - New Moon | reviews, news & interviews

The Twilight Saga - New Moon

The Twilight Saga - New Moon

It's the eternal human-vampire-werewolf romantic triangle!

Vegetarian vampires

They're back! Bella Swan and Edward Cullen (otherwise known as Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson) are once again smooching on a screen near you. I turned up one hour early for a showing of the new Twilight movie, and the damn thing was already sold out. Which suggests the film will do every bit as well as, if not better than, its predecessor, which made $383 million worldwide.

Look on the bright side - maybe this will persuade studio executives they don't need to aim every single movie at adolescent males. The adolescent female market can be every bit as lucrative. What do young women want? As a teenager I wore black nail varnish, collected plastic skeletons and adored vampires (and should maybe admit that not a lot has changed in the meantime). But I would almost certainly have scoffed at Stephenie Meyer's young adult romances with their shallow heroine, "vegetarian" vampires who sparkle in the sunlight and Mills & Boony view of human (and non-human) relationships.

Millions of girls and not a few grown women, however, have gone apeshit for this kind of mushy escapism, which bolsters their illusions that even dull young damsels can be objects of desire and that romantic love really is everlasting, though with items such as Robert Pattinson knickers on the market you do wonder if the fan worship is quite as chaste as it's made out to be.

The film isn't all bad - it's simply not aimed at me. Chris Weitz (who directed the underrated The Golden Compass) takes over directing duties from Catherine Hardwicke, after she was hustled out of the franchise with almost indecent haste, reportedly due to "scheduling conflicts". There's more action this time around, as Bella gets involved in an eternal human-vampire-werewolf romantic triangle, but many of the heart-to-hearts between Bella and her beaux seem to go on for ever, all trembling lips and frowny foreheads and barely articulate groping for words. I daresay this actually is how adolescents communicate, but that doesn't make it any more riveting for the rest of us.

Once or twice, Weitz tries to get tricksy, with hilarous results. Edward, who resembles nothing less than a statue of Adonis covered in talcum powder, strides across the school carpark in slo-mo as Bella gazes on adoringly. After he dumps her (for reasons I can't be bothered to go into - honestly, you have to see the film) the camera revolves around her as she broods in her bedroom and the seasons change outside; it's like that bit in Notting Hill where Hugh Grant walks through Portobello Road market, the modern equivalent of pages peeling off a calendar to represent the passage of time, but I'm afraid it left me wondering how she'd stayed in that position for three months without needing to get up and go to the toilet.

The third part of the triangle is Jacob (Taylor Lautner), a chunky Native American werewolf who hangs out with Bella after she's dumped. She develops a taste for dangerous sports - mainly because she gets to see a transparent Edward telling her not to jump off that cliff, or ride pillion on that motorbike without a helmet. (Personally, I think she should have taken up smoking, but that's one dangerous sport too far for modern Hollywood.) Jacob takes his shirt off a lot on the flimsiest of pretexts (all the guys take their shirts off a lot - it's a recurring motif) but is cuter in wolf form.

The plotting, which ultimately tries to con us into thinking Edward might actually commit suicide (the fact there are still two more novels to be adapted is a bit of a giveaway) is clunky, but not without its amusing aspects. I enjoyed it when everyone quit overcast Washington State and surried on over to Tuscany to confront a sect of ancient Italian vampires led by Michael Sheen (switching sides after playing a werewolf in the Underworld trilogy) who looks like a bloodsucking Mr Bean. And my, how little Dakota Fanning has grown! I always did think she should have played an evil mastermind, and she comes remarkably close to it here.

There's a nice spooky shot of a vampire swimming underwater that I wish had lasted longer. But the film's saving grace, by a long chalk, is Kristen Stewart, who once again manages to make the insufferable Bella far more interesting on the screen than she is on the page.

  • Read the first chapter of Anne Billson's new vampire novel, Vampire Island

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