After about two weeks of urging by my daughter, my wife and I went to see the second "Twilight" movie, "New Moon". Em asked me if I might blog about my thoughts on the movie, so -- at the risk of offending her, given that she is a big fan of the franchise (she's already seen "New Moon" half a dozen times) -- I will give it a shot.
To start out with, I should state up front that I am clearly not a member of the intended audience for this movie -- I think I'm about forty years too old… and I'm a guy.
One of my basic criteria for judging whether a movie is good or bad is whether I get bored during the viewing. I didn't get bored watching "New Moon", but I came close a few times, especially during those seemingly interminable close-ups of Bella and Edward or Bella and Jacob where they mumble dialogue about love and such. None of these conversations ever seem to really GO anywhere, with the possible exception of Edward's surprising offer to Bella at the end of the movie.
Now, in a movie featuring vampires and werewolves, especially in this day and age, one expects the creature effects to be of a high quality. I was initially pretty disappointed in the werewolves, and not just because of their design (I'll say more about that in a moment), but because in their first couple of appearances on screen they looked almost comical to me with the way their snouts bunched up. Eventually, though, the animators got it together and they looked a lot more polished and integrated into the scenery through the rest of the movie.
However, I have a big problem with werewolves that essentially look like wolves, even really BIG wolves. It's just not that interesting to me. During the big scene where Jacob in his werewolf form is battling another werewolf to protect Bella, it just looked like a big dog fight. Well-done, yes, but really too much like watching too big dogs battle each other. I would have preferred the much cooler and creepier man/wolf approach as exemplified by Rob Bottin's great work in the original "The Howling" movie. It would have made the vampire vs. werewolf fights in "New Moon" a lot more interesting, in my opinion.
And speaking of those fights -- at one point, Jacob says -- in response to Bella's comment that the vampires are really fast -- that the werewolves are even faster. Really? If what you see on the screen is any indication, that can't possibly be true. The vampires are so quick that they appear to be able to move across dozens of yards of distance instantaneously. The werewolves, on the other hand, appear to be able to run on all fours as fast as animals their size might be expected to, which is nowhere near "instantaneously" fast. If there had been something else to this -- like if Jacob had said something about how the werewolves can do the pack hunting thing better than the vampires, and it had actually been shown on the screen -- the whole werewolves chasing down and catching vampires thing would have worked a lot better. As it is, I didn't believe any of the werewolves seen in the movie could have caught any of the vampires except by sheer luck.
I also have to say that the "shirtless dude" look favored by the werewolves when in their human form got pretty silly after a while. It seemed to be something they did so that when they transformed into werewolves their clothes wouldn't be ruined… but the always left their pants on. I don't get it.
I also didn't get the rules of interaction between the vampires and the werewolves, which were very sketchily presented. This movie could have done with significantly more exposition, perhaps at the expense of a few of those scenes of Bella looking soulfully at Edward or Jacob.
Or maybe the point is that not only do you have to be a young person, and preferably female, but you also have to read the source novels to really get the most out of movies like "New Moon". I'm tempted to try, even though I have not heard great things about them, but I think for now I'll stick with Charles Dickens.
If I were to give this movie a letter grade, it would be a "C". Or maybe a "B-", because although I didn't care for the werewolves' designs that much, there were two very cool quick bits where all you see of them are looming black shapes in the underbrush with vapor coming out of their nostrils. That was pretty nifty. -- PL