Saturday, 21 November 2009
REVIEW: Twilight: New Moon
Wow. That was quite possibly one of the most memorable movie going experiences I'll have. And it wasn't because of the movie which was tepid to the point of aspiring to mediocrity, it was because being in that screen was almost an inter-active experience. Every time Robert Pattinson came on screen he was met with a harmonized shriek of teen girls that came close to terrifying (The scene where he takes off his shirt I'm pretty sure the place shook). One particular parent got literally screamed at by a girl who could have been no more then 14 for having the audacity to cough; a ten year old boy got his chair violently kicked by the girl behind him when he shared an under his breath joke with his friend, and the closing credits were met with roughly a thirty second period of applause and cheering. I wish I was exaggerating for comic effect here but all this shit really happened. And all I can take from it is that Twilight fans, they be crazy.
And what makes this all so hilarious is that Twilight is such an undeserving franchise for this kind of hysteria. And in a way I think all the adolescent girls who contribute to its success know this, or at the very least half know this, but it doesn't matter. They've made they're fangirl choice and they're going to stick with it, damn it. And in a way I get that. I remember the wave of apologetics and vicious defenses that accompanied the Star Wars prequels, and I dare someone to make the argument that they were good films. I suppose when regular fandom reaches this kind of blind-eyed adoration there isn't a lot of logic to it. Its just this could be the first time when its been a successful, genre-set series of films such as this has belonged to the girls, and the girls alone. We don't get it, and so rarely do boys have to work hard to get a movie franchise, because usually their aimed at us. And in this sense Twilight has broken new ground, allowing girls to finally butt in on that prized power-nerd fan mentality that has belonged solely to dude's for so long.
That doesn't mean that its good though. And its really not. By and large its humorless, awkward and stifled. With its two leads having absolutely no chemistry together, which is the kiss of death for a film that is essentially a played straight romantic drama with a bit of supernatural thrown in. You can allude to Romeo and Juliet all you want, but not for one second in the previous movie or this one to Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson play well together. I think Stewart is a good actress in theory and I've definitely seen good performances from her in the past, but when the script doesn't help her she kind of crashes and burns, playing the role in quite an introverted manner and for a character so led by her heart this is at odds, and thus the idea that she attracts two supernatural alpha-beings just seems a bit silly. Similarly she doesn't seem comfortable with all the script's romantic gushing, and the fifth time she has to either say or hear 'You're everything to me' you can tell her heart isnt really in it. Pattinson on the other hand is just a plank. The next Orlando Bloom. Driven to fame by objectification and having no real talent to justify it. I'd love for him to prove me wrong in later performances but there's nothing here to convince me he's not just a flavor of the month. Taylor Lautner, who plays the third part in this movie's painfully obvious romantic triangle, probably is the best of the three here, in that he's kind of blandly OK, but he also won't be winning any Oscars any time soon. I almost cheered when Michael Sheen turned up, because he owns this film in pretty much one scene, and is a great actor to watch in almost anything, even cack like this. I guess I have to give props to Dakota Fanning too, who in a role that barely adds up to a cameo makes a much more memorable impression then most of this franchise's increasingly expanding cast. Her delivery of the word 'pain' before psychically torturing Edward is pretty legendary.
But this film is essentially mediocre stock product that has somehow become a fan phenomenon. I guess it just lucked into it. I could go on about the subtext of repressed religious sexuality, which is in nigh on every frame, and the amount of time Lautner had his shirt off lead to roughly an hour of screen-time, but there is no need. You know this kind of stuff already. This movie is going to be gigantic regardless of what I, or many more established critics say. You can't stop a stampede, even if they are running of a cliff. The cliff here is a stand in for quality I guess, although its a pretty weak metaphor. Whatever.