“New Moon” fails to sparkle with audiences

Kate Froehlich, Executive Editor

After “New Moon,” based on the second book in the “Twilight Saga,” grossed $72.7 million on its release date, making it the highest grossing day for a film in history, I was left completely underwhelmed. Even a shirtless Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) couldn’t save this train wreck.

I saw it two nights in a row, both times with Twilight fanatics. My expectations weren’t particularly high, considering the original “Twilight” movie wasn’t spectacular by any stretch of the imagination.

In “New Moon,” Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) leaves Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) in order to protect her. She finds comfort in the arms of Black, who happens to be a werewolf, a sworn enemy of the Cullens. After believing that Swan killed herself, Cullen goes to the Volturi, the royal vampire coven, in hopes that he can convince them to kill him. Swan and Alice Cullen (Ashley Greene) get to Italy in time to save Edward, although they quickly learn that the only way to keep Swan safe is to transform her into a vampire.

The special effects were significantly better than the first movie, although the twinkling noise when Pattinson emerges into the sunlight was a little much. However, the sparkling looked much more real in this movie.

Unfortunately, the wolves were so obviously computer-generated it was almost sad, and they looked much too large for the scenes.

The camera had way too many close-ups of the actors’ faces. Sometimes it’s better to just see the whole scene, but who knows? Maybe people like being able see each grain of powder on the actors’ faces. In addition, slow motion was used in nearly every fighting scene, therefore minimizing the impact and making the movie drag on even more.

There are also some continuity problems, such as Bella hitting her head and bleeding profusely during the motorcycle scene (better remembered as the first time Taylor takes his shirt off) and then not even having a mark on her head the next scene.

However, the biggest problem was the acting.

Stewart looks like she has taken illegal substances half of the movie. To verify these suspicions, she constantly blinks eight times in a row. That, and the fact that her hair kept changing from being behind her ear to in front of it as soon as the camera switched back to her distracted me the entire movie.

The only word to describe her acting is awkward.

I honestly believed she forgot her lines sometimes because she started taking extra long pauses before she delivered each line. She tries much too hard in some scenes, like her breakdowns, which did not engage me at all. The best example is before she runs into Laurent (Edi Gathegi), and falls to the ground, clutching her stomach.

It’s better for everyone when voiceovers are used. In other words, Stewart’s better reading off a script than trying to recite lines and act at the same time.

One of her better scenes was highlighting Bella’s depression, in which a 360 degree turn around her room showed the changing months each time the camera passed the window. Mostly because all Stewart had to do was sit there in the center of the room.

Thank God for Taylor Lautner.

Although his acting job was hardly better than the rest of the cast’s, the fact that he was shirtless in about 75 percent of the scenes was the sole reason I stayed. The second he took his shirt off the first time, the entire theatre collectively sighed. I don’t normally support steroid usage, but it worked perfectly for him.

Honestly, the best way to improve this movie would have been to cut all the other characters and just have pictures of him on the screen. I’d watch two hours of that.

I will say that the best acting jobs by both Pattinson and Lautner were, ironically, the scenes in which they left Bella or told her to stay away. Lautner especially did this nicely, as he nearly shakes with rage throughout that scene. Likewise, Pattinson’s passion for Bella was obvious during his scene.

Both of their romantic scenes with Bella were unbelievably awkward. I felt like I was watching two middle school students try to kiss.

Some of the supporting actors were slightly better. Billy Burke embraces his role as Charlie Swan, Bella’s awkward father, who clearly loves her, but struggles to express it. Jackson Rathone as Jasper Cullen is almost frightening when he smells Bella’s blood while Michael Sheen as Aro, a leader of the Volturi, is beyond creepy in his portrayal of the vampire. Anna Kendrick plays Jessica Stanley, Bella’s self righteousness, self centered friend to a tee.

There was more comic relief than in the first movie, with a handful of lines throughout that made the theatre laugh. They were a nice touch to an otherwise somber mood.

Unfortunately, I can’t comment quite as thoroughly on the end of the movie, as I fell asleep on and off throughout the second half. Honestly, the armrest of my chair with my jacket as a pillow was more inviting than watching the film again.

I had mixed reactions from my friends about how closely it followed the book. I have only read the first one, and my one friend venomously denied the book being at all similar to the movie, while my other thought it followed the storyline well.

Overall, the movie didn’t get close to living up to its hype. My advice? Skip it, and Google pictures of Lautner.

Kate Froehlich can be reached for comment at [email protected]