Just after Bella's (Kristen Stewart) 18th birthday, Edward (Robert Pattinson) decides to leave her behind in an effort to protect her. As the heartbroken Bella sleepwalks through her senior year, numb and alone, she discovers she can summon Edward's image whenever she puts herself in jeopardy. Her desire to be with him at any cost leads her to take greater and greater risks, including a new taste for high-speed motorcycle jaunts.
With the help of Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), her childhood friend and a member of the mysterious Quileute tribe, Bella refurbishes a motorbike for her adventures. Bella's frozen heart is gradually thawed by her budding relationship with Jacob, who has a supernatural secret of his own.
When Bella wanders alone into a meadow, she finds herself face to face with a deadly attacker. Only the intervention of a pack of extraordinarily large wolves saves her from a grisly fate and the encounter makes it frighteningly clear that Bella is still in grave danger. In a race against the clock, Bella learns the ancient secret of the Quileute tribe and Edward's true motivation for leaving her. She also faces the prospect of a potentially deadly reunion with her beloved that is quite unlike the one she had hoped for.
I think Peter went too easy on 'Twilight,' the first film iteration based on the series of books by Stephenie Meyer. Dollar Store special effects combined with acting that is regularly outdone on Telemundo soap operas, along with a story so desperate and chaotic that it had vampire baseball (vampire...baseball!), none of those elements make for a good film. Yet, it proved incredibly popular, despite its (extreme) shortcomings, raking in huge piles of cash from fans who were either too caught up in the craze or too green behind the ears to notice they were swooning over a true B-movie. Yet with great success comes...even worse sequels, I suppose. With more books in the series to cash in on... err... adapt for the silver screen, the 'Twilight Saga' was poised for great success with 'New Moon,' featuring a returning cast, and so much more of what fans loved the first time around. Success, it appears, is relative, as 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen' proved, as these juggernauts showed it doesn't take a good film to be hugely popular, and that a bad film can disguise itself in a commercial property and still sell to its target audience.
"Alice, you won't believe the film I just saw. It had Kristen Stewart playing Bella Swan again, and this time around, instead of breaking into her house and staring at her sleeping, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) left for parts unknown, leaving behind the woman he supposedly cares so much about! After moping around and crying profusely for months, Bella reconnected with Jacob (Taylor Lautner), the now buffed up Native American teen who had a crush on her. But, get this, just like with Edward, it seems there's more to Jacob than meets the eye, and falling for Jacob could put her in harms way, from Jacob's enemies...and Jacob himself! Bella even keeps seeing visions of Edward guiding her, to try to protect her! With a seemingly tense but strangely familiar love triangle, Bella has to decide what's right for her, and have a turn saving Edward, instead of vice versa!!!"
I understand that in real life, not much happens in Forks, Washington. What I don't understand is how a film that progresses no story whatsoever, and trudges along in circles can be over two hours long (not counting the eight whole minutes worth of credits). It boggles the mind. The first 'Twilight' film, bad as it was, at least tried (keyword:
This time around, there isn't as much of the staring and brooding coming from a 109 year old in the body of a 17 year old, who is longing for a girl more than five times younger than him, as Edward, teen heartthrob that he is, takes a backseat, so that the story can explore and possibly set up future plot points, laying the groundwork for the third and fourth entries. There is no vampire baseball, though vampires still sparkle like they've glued glitter all over their faces when sunlight hits them, rather than evaporate or explode. There are still cruel and/or evil vampires seeking to hurt Edward by hurting Bella, but they don't really have purpose, or screen time, other than the generic "background villain who is meant to create tension and a sense of urgency by being around every corner ready to strike when least expected"-style villainess, who disappears midway through the film. This time, rather than focus on forbidden love between humans and vampires, the forbidden yearning between humans and werewolves is exposed. Yes, werewolves. Considering the hints in the first film, that's about as much a spoiler as saying the primary cast all survives in order to make appearances in future iterations.
'New Moon' features far better cinematography and beyond superior special effects compared to its predecessor, but when any story makes 'Twilight' look good by comparison, something is horribly wrong. Bella's outbursts as an adrenaline junkie are less than convincing, and seem like half-assed rebellions coming from a girl who just can't let it go. I'm afraid to think of the girls who grow up with these books and movies hitting the dating market. Her father, Charlie (Billy Burke), is a horrendous parent, as he responds to months of wailing and hollowness in his daughter by threatening to ship her away. Edward's logic is flawed, as he tries so hard to protect Bella, yet he puts her in harms way constantly by not being there after making her a delicious target, and by distracting a girl wrought with emotion over his abandonment while she is doing dangerous things, and even causes injury to her due to such spirit-stalking.
The fault for this catastrophe doesn't rest entirely with Chris Weitz ('The Golden Compass,' 'About a Boy,' and 'American Pie'), as he certainly wasn't given a fair opportunity to make movie magic. Shots are well framed, and the film is most certainly visually interesting. Pacing is another issue. Yet in my opinion, much of the blame seems to belong to the cast and the weak script. This is the second film to be riddled with plot holes, continuity issues, improper development, and a rash of what I'd like to call "a complete lack of anything other than marketing oneself to the impressionable." Bella has a magical power, it seems, despite being so ordinarily human, that vampire powers (they have an assortment, you see...) don't work on her. Yet, in the earliest scenes in 'New Moon,' they do, as Jasper's ability to control moods does affect her. Explain that one all you want, fans, it's sloppy (more on this issue in the comments for the audio commentary in the extras). Actors never appear truly "into" their roles, as they all look somewhat bored, and half-way "above" what they're doing here. Line readings can be amazingly dry and unconvincing, while body language is often stiff and utterly absent. It feels like one big first rehearsal, only with costumes and special effects.
'Twilight' was high on the "creepiness factor," and 'New Moon' doesn't stray far from said point. Sure, I understand two people from different backgrounds loving each other (and I more than get the very lazy and ham-handed references to Romeo and Juliet), I understand conflict, desperation, and yearning, even teenage hormone driven melodramatic overreaction. But when it's coming from a 109 year old in a 17 year old body, it just doesn't work. Edward proves himself as immature and illogical as Bella, despite his years of experience, as his actions get progressively more selfish, ugly, and ignorant as the film progresses. Someone may feel weak at the knees when they hear their lover tell them that they cannot live without them, but to say that, disappear, reappear, disappear, threaten suicide, and then try to boss someone around on what they can and can't do, it loses its point...much like the film.
And that is what I want to know: what was the point of 'New Moon,' besides showing Edward and Jacob (along with his clan mates) shirtless ad nauseam? Good movies can segue from a previous film's story to a new plot or extension in under ten minutes, yet 'New Moon' would rather revel in itself. There is no arc. There is no real driving force. This is just a documentation of three hormone driven super freaks as they struggle with who they are. Guys and girls alike may find themselves in Jacob's corner as the film progresses, as the beefcake in the making is treated like the dog he turns into, repeatedly, and comes back for more. With two sequels to go in this series, it seems the movie-going public is much like Jacob in this sense. Treat us bad, call us names, betray us, use us and abuse us, but in less than a year's time, all will be forgiven for more of the same to be dished out again.
The Disc: Vital Stats
'New Moon' is packaged with a lightly embossed slipcover that houses possibly the flimsiest Blu-ray case I've ever seen. The plastic that holds the cover art ripples, as there is little to no case behind it, as eco-cases have gone to a new level of thinness. The disc is a Region A locked BD50, that has three forced trailers before the menu that cannot be skipped through the top menu button. The disc is labeled "disc 1," an obvious sign that those buying this single disc edition are getting the skimped edition, and may feel like they got the short end of the stick. There are three pre-menu trailers (for 'Remember Me' (starring Pattinson), 'Letters to Juliet,' and 'Astro Boy'), which are not skippable through the top menu button.
There are a few store exclusives for 'New Moon,' with Wal-Mart getting an "ultimate fan edition" that features 'Eclipse' footage, Best Buy getting a steelbook (and FutureShop getting a pair of steelbooks, one for each 'Twilight' film), Target getting an additional disc featuring deleted scenes and a film cel. There is no indication that the Borders pack-in medallion will be available for the Blu-ray release. Toys R Us has a limited keepsake box available when purchasing the title on Blu-ray or DVD.
'The Twilight Saga: New Moon' arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC MPEG-4 encode in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio, easily trumping the first entry in the series with a transfer that is a few miles ahead of the video quality of 'Twilight.'
Colors in 'New Moon' are two toned, as the film employs a very dark, drab, and restrained palette when in Forks, but the road trip (of sorts) brings forth bright, vibrant colors, including some pretty awesome reds in the multitude of robes. Detail levels are solid, particularly in backgrounds, which cannot decide if they want to be infinitely deep, beautifully sharp, and three dimensional, or just flat and blurry. Faces wear with great character, though the vampires in the film look a hair chalky from makeup, so pores don't really show.
Shadow detail is where this transfer suffers, as blacks suck detail and life out of surroundings more than...well, the film itself. Many shoots look artificial, and contrast too much with those before (and after) them. There is a light bit of noise from time to time, and the occasional spot of ringing that can be distracting. The title sequence had a small amount of banding as it transitioned, but that may have been intentional. Another possibly intentional trait late in the film feels more like a technical anomaly. When Felix uses his enhanced speed attacks on Edward, there is a blurry rainbow effect that is created in passing, on a few occasions in a single shot, while all other different shots of the same effect do not create this distraction. It's somewhat like a bright array of colors, flashing for a split second, in a melting, oozing pattern; quite bizarre, honestly. Either this effect was supposed to happen, and wasn't used fluidly through the full shot, or it wasn't supposed to occur. No matter how one looks at it, it's ugly.
The audio for 'New Moon' provides much less for one to gripe about, if anything, honestly, as the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix (the packaging negates to mention the track is 5.1) is fairly impressive.
Dialogue is clear, every single awful, disturbing, creepy, haphazard, or mind numbing second of it, with constant prioritization, making even whimpered (not whispered) lines come through clear as day. There isn't much movement or localization in the spoken word, though, which was a bit disappointing. Volume spikes accordingly, and the film balances tension and activity with serenity and silence quite well. Rears get some acceptable pans, as well as appropriate levels of ambience and activity to keep one fairly well immersed into the "story." Bass levels are probably what I'd consider the highlight, as my subwoofer boomed, banged, pulsed, and throttled its way through every quote-on-quote action sequence with great enthusiasm, as music cues and werewolf stomps all created quite the rumble.
On another note, one thing about the sound emanating from this track must be commented on, regardless of its technical suitability: while the soundtrack, which is fairly emo instead of powerful, hits all angles nicely, it is utterly horrendous. Either this reviewer is getting more and more out of touch with music, or (more likely) the most Hot Topic-y of bands with the most whiny songs possible found their way into this film.
The supplement package for the one disc edition of 'New Moon' feels skimped, intentionally restrained, as a way to try to coerce a purchase of one of the store exclusive editions.
I'm definitely not in the target audience for 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon,' and I have no problem admitting as much. I haven't been a teenage girl for years....wait...scratch that. Fans of Meyer's books, or the first film, will find enough to enjoy here, but said fans should keep non-fans in mind, as husbands and boyfriends were already dragged to this one once in theaters. Repeat forced viewings are akin to spousal abuse, in my opinion.
This Blu-ray release of 'New Moon' has great video and stellar audio. It sparkles, it really does. The extras are minimal on this release, which will make the more devoted of fans struggle to decide which store exclusive to buy. Since the film doesn't aim beyond fans of the original, it gets a recommendation for this set of fans only. This is a very risky blind buy, guys. It may become one of the best selling Blu-ray discs on the market, but that doesn't mean it belongs in every collection.