Review by Jane Louise Boursaw
Reel Rating: 4 out of 5 Reels
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence and action
Released in Theaters: Nov. 20, 2009
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance
Runtime: 130 minutes
Directed by: Chris Weitz
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Dakota Fanning, Michael Sheen, Jamie Campbell Bower, Alex Meraz, Chaske Spencer
SYNOPSIS: Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” saga gets a second movie. This time, Bella Swan spends more time with Jacob Black, as Edward Cullen decides to end their relationship and retreat to parts unknown.
Sex/Nudity: Nothing explicit, but plenty of hand-holding, passionate hugs, a few kisses, and shirtless buff guys.
Violence/Gore. The violence is ramped up a few notches from “Twilight.” Giant wolves are quite fearsome, snarling and fighting to the max. There’s an intense fight scene involving the Volturi, where one character gets thrown around and another is dismembered. Not much is shown, but the effect is there. Early in the movie, Jasper nearly attacks Bella, leading to a fight between him and Edward. Victoria and Laurent have separate tussles with the Wolf Pack, who also come after Bella at one point. Bella puts herself in danger, approaching some guys on motorcycles, driving a motorcycle recklessly, and nearly drowning in a cliff-diving scene.
Profanity: Fairly mild, including “bloodsucker,” “dammit,” “what the hell,” and “oh my God.”
Which Kids Will Like It? Kids 9 and older who liked the first “Twilight” movie (though I don’t recommend it for kids younger than 13).
Will Parents Like It? I think “New Moon” appeals to moms as much as their daughters. It’s romantic, dramatic and funny, sometimes all at the same time.
REVIEW: I was a little dismayed when I saw that Roger Ebert had given “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” only one star, but I can sort of see where he’s coming from. In terms of overall production, “New Moon” might not be the best movie ever made, but it’s romantic, continues the story beautifully from the first movie (“Twilight”), and sets things up nicely for the third film, “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.” It also appeals perfectly to its target audience – young girls and middle-aged moms. For all these reasons, it gets four out of five reels from me.
We pick up the story with Bella (Kristen Stewart) celebrating her 18th birthday at the start of her senior year. She’s not really into the whole “presents and cake” thing, but agrees to a birthday party at the Cullen’s house. When she cuts her finger while opening a gift, Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) nearly attacks her. Being a young vampire, he doesn’t have as much control over his bloodthirsty instincts as the others. It all ends well, but the incident makes Edward (Robert Pattinson) realize that over the long haul, his relationship with Bella will never work. So he and his family leave Forks, Washington, leaving Bella to stumble through her senior year alone and depressed.
But she finds comfort with longtime friend Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), who’s suddenly grown buff and strong. To get over her heartbreak from Edward, Bella asks Jacob to help her fix up a couple of motorcycles, so the two can ride together. But Bella has an ulterior motive. She discovers that whenever she’s in danger, Edward appears to her in a vision. Thus, she puts herself in danger quite often, from reckless motorcycle driving to cliff diving to solo ventures into the woods. There are still dangerous creatures lurking out there.
And Jacob is harboring a secret of his own, as he starts hanging with a group of Native American boys who like to wander bare-torso’d through the woods. The audience where I saw the movie was so funny, because every time a guy would rip his shirt off or run through the woods half-naked, everyone would ooh and aah. I have to say, Taylor Lautner definitely logged plenty of gym time.
Meanwhile, the Cullens are off somewhere in the world, but Edward, distraught over news he hears about Bella, goes to see the Volturi in Italy. They’re the leaders in the vampire world, tasked with making sure all the vamps adhere to their many laws. When Bella hears about it via Alice (Ashley Greene), she has to take action, much to the chagrin of Jacob.
“The Twilight Saga: New Moon” is romantic, funny and dramatic, but oh, the teen angst. They’re tortured souls! The computer generated effects are beautiful, with gigantic, fearsome wolves who snarl and fight like, well, wild wolves. That bad vampire Victoria makes an appearance, as well, and gets into a violent tussle with the wolves.
The Volturi are a great addition to the saga, and while they don’t have a lot of screen time, they use it well. Dakota Fanning plays Jane, a powerful vampire who can inflict pain with her mind. The leader Aro (Michael Sheen) makes a giddily evil vampire, and he’s flanked by the more silent and stoic Caius (Jamie Campbell Bower) and Marcus (Christopher Heyerdahl).
The Quileute Wolf Pack includes Alex Meraz as Paul, Chaske Spencer as Sam Uley, Bronson Pelletier as Jared, and Kiowa Gordon as Embry Call. They look just fine.
I’m sure “New Moon” will be spoofed to the nth degree, and there’s plenty to spoof: longing looks between characters, mannerisms like Bella’s lip-biting, Jacob’s strength, and Edward’s sparkling … just about every character could easily be a “Saturday Night Live” skit. But that’s ok. It means the movie embeds itself into our psyche.
I think maybe Roger Ebert should have seen “New Moon” with some junior high girls (ok, that doesn’t sound right!). But I took my 12-year-old daughter and two of her friends, and just watching their joy at seeing the movie made it all worthwhile. And this mom loved it, too.
JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.