A Review of “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” – written FOR fans, BY a fan!

Finally, The Twilight Saga gets the blockbuster treatment it deserves.

That’s my initial reaction after just getting home from an advanced screening of The Twilight Saga: New Moon. I’m by no means a film critic, and I don’t pretend to be. But as you all know, I am a Twilight fan. And as many of you know — last year, I brought you an advance review of Twilight — written as a fan, for fellow fans.

I’m back now to do the same with The Twilight Saga: New Moon. So here is my review of The Twilight Saga: New Moon — written as fan, for my fellow fans.

I’ll try to keep things mostly spoiler-free, but if you want to wait, no worries.  Anyone who wants to read my full review, follow the jump …

Overall:

Okay, I’m just going to say it. The Twilight Saga: New Moon is not a perfect movie. Critics — the really nasty ones — are going to nitpick and tear it to shreds. Which is really a shame, because while it is not a perfect movie — it’s a wonderfully enjoyable movie. (For this fan, at least.) I’ll be honest, New Moon is my least favorite of the books — but I felt a new sense of appreciation for it while watching it unfold on the big screen.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon is also a huge step-up from Twilight, in many ways. The overall scope and feel of the entire movie is both bigger and better.

Sure, we’ve seen in the trailers, clips, etc. that the effects are much improved (more on that in a moment). But the entire presentation has been improved, I feel, on the whole: the acting, the look and feel, the music, the effects, etc. The pacing, especially, is much better in New Moon. There are many parts in Twilight where it felt like the movie just dragged. I don’t get that feeling with New Moon. Could the pacing be improved further? Sure. There are scenes where the dialogue feels a little heavy (though fans may not complain, since the dialogue in those scenes is practically lifted directly from the book) — but the “slower” moments were few and far between. And oddly enough — it actually felt to me like there was more romance between Bella and Edward in New Moon than there was in the first movie.

Can I also just say thank you to the folks who injected New Moon with all the action scenes? We’ve got vampires and werewolves in action, cliff-diving, motorcycles, fight-scenes, chases. It’s all delightful and keeps the flow moving. One of the most well-done sequences, in my opinion, (minor spoiler alert) happens during Bella’s cliff-dive. The filmmakers have brilliantly interwoven Bella’s moment atop the cliff, with scenes of Charlie out hunting the “animals” behind recent attacks, Victoria hot on his trail, and the wolves hot on hers. The entire sequence is beautiful, fast-paced and engaging. It was definitely a stand-out moment.

Effects:

Kudos to director Chris Weitz for squeezing every penny out of the budget he got. The effects are markedly improved, and while we know the wolves are CGI — they’re pretty darn good CGI wolves and it’s still fun to watch them in action (and they get plenty of action).

Also significantly improved are the vampire action sequences. No more goofy “fast run.” No, the vampires of New Moon are pretty bad ass. They move quickly and beautifully. Their movements are also frightening, when called for (ie Laurent, Victoria and the Volturi are creepy as hell!). By now, you’ve all probably seen clips of the fight between Felix and Edward in the Volturi lair. I can tell you, it’s even better on the big screen.

Actors:

As with other aspects of the film, the acting in New Moon is also a big step-up from Twilight. Kristen Stewart, especially, shines as Bella — as she goes through a vast range of emotions. I’ve heard her speak about how exhausting it was to do — and after seeing her performance, I understand why. Stewart sinks with Bella to the lowest of lows, and we see her struggle to surface from her agony. We also see Bella find new happiness with Jacob, and experience true joy. We see and feel with her as she struggles to move on, while still holding on to what she has left of Edward.

Robert Pattinson will continue to make girls swoon with his performance of Edward Cullen. As the audience, your heart breaks with Bella’s during the highly-anticipated break-up scene. But unlike Bella, the audience also catches a glimpse of Edward’s pain — the grimace on his face, when Bella can’t see him — and that look alone speaks volumes. Sure, Edward acts like a total jerk when he breaks-up with Bella … but that one look shows us how much agony it is for him to go through.

Taylor Lautner also earns his heartthrob status here. He’s still young and learning, and there were times when his performance felt (to me) a little forced — but he really steps up to the role of leading man nicely, and I can’t wait to see how his performance continues to improve with future films.

As always, Billy Burke as Charlie Swan is a stand-out. He was a personal favorite of mine in the first movie, and he was my favorite again with New Moon. Charlie pops in and out of the movie — but he steals the show every time. He’s delightfully awkward as the father, trying to help his daughter heal from a painful break-up. But, as with the first movie, we also glimpse the depth of his emotions. This really shines through when he pulls Bella into his arms, after Sam finds her lost in the woods — and later when he comforts Bella from another of her nightmares.

And now here’s my biggest complaint about the actors in New Moon — there just isn’t enough time in a two-hour movie to spend with all of the supporting characters. They are all outstanding.

Let’s start with the humans. Michael Welch as Mike Newton, and Anna Kendrick as Jessica Stanley really steal the show in their brief but wonderful scenes.

The Wolf Pack are wonderfully warm and brotherly. The scene at Emily’s home (it’s in the book, people) really shows their comraderie. And the actors each get a chance to shoot off a few great one-liners. (Spoiler: a personal favorite was Sam saying to Bella, “Jacob was right. You’re good with the weird stuff.”)

The Volturi are expectedly creepy, and though there’s been a lot of hype about Dakota Fanning’s performance as Jane — my personal favorite was Michael Sheen as Aro. He’s such a rich, colorful character in the books — and Sheen really brings him to life. He’s just a joy to watch on screen. Of course, Fanning is also creepy and wicked as Jane — and the supporting Volturi members fill their roles well, albeit their performances are notably brief.

The remaining nomads also have brief, but notable performances. Oh, Laurent, it was sad to see you go. Edi Gathegi is such a genuinely nice person — and watching his performance, you know he means it when he talks about how much he enjoys playing Laurent. Rachelle LeFevre as Victoria is also a distinct presence throughout the entire film — all without speaking a single line. (That’s right … no “curve ball” references here; she doesn’t have a single line. It doesn’t matter; she’s still scary as hell.)

And of course, the Cullens. You had to know going in that they’re hardly in this movie. But when they do appear on screen, they’re lovely to be around as always. The scene between Carlisle and Bella, when he stitches up her arm, is especially poignant. It’s also nice to see Ashley Greene finally get to shine as Alice — the only Cullen besides Edward to get some decent screen time. Jackson Rathbone as Jasper also gets a couple extra moments on-screen, and he’s delightful — especially when finally demonstrating his gift to manipulate emotions.

Music:

You’ve all probably heard the soundtrack for New Moon by now, and you know that it has a much more cohesive sound to it than the Twilight soundtrack. That translates to the big screen. The soundtrack selections also work well with the new score from Alexandre Desplat, which has a broader and more cinematic sound to it than Carter Burwell’s Twilight score. I felt like the music selections were smart and well-placed throughout the movie.

Specifics (Spoilers ahead):

Okay, I’m going to drop a few minor spoilers here to talk about some specifics from the movie, so consider this fair warning. There be spoilers ahead:

* Gratuitous eye candy. Depending on your perspective, this can be a good or a bad thing. While I enjoyed the eye candy — I also felt like it was kind of silly. Yes, Edward is hot as he struts across the parking lot. He also looks kind of ridiculous. Equally ridiculous is Jacob ripping his shirt off to dab at a minor wound on Bella’s head. (Seriously, dude, stop getting half-naked).

* Product placements. Edward drives a VOLVO. Bella and Alice fly VIRGIN ATLANTIC to Italy. Okay, the Volvo I’ll allow — since it is a detail from the book. But Virgin, really? Did you really need a 15-second commercial in the middle of New Moon?

* Missed opportunity: During my favorite sequence of the movie (mentioned previously), we see Charlie attending to Harry Clearwater during his heart attack. It’s an emotional moment in the movie, and my heart goes out to Charlie. Later, Charlie chastises Bella for leaving him for three days with no word (when she runs off to Italy). He tells her not to do that to him again. The filmmakers missed an opportunity here to bring back the emotions of losing Harry — since Charlie was worrying about his daughter’s whereabouts on the heels of watching one of his best friends die. Pretty hard-core stuff there, but the filmmakers sort of let Harry’s death slide.

* Major highlight: The three-way date between Bella, Jacob and Mike. Michael Welch told NNT over the summer that the scene wasn’t originally in the movie, but that Stewart and Lautner insisted it be added. He told us he was so thankful they added that scene, because it was one of his favorites — and now, so do we.

* The audience originally chuckled when the scene this still picture (right)  is from appeared on the big screen … but the laughter stopped once everyone realized what it was actually showing. I don’t want to give it away, but … O.M.G. Seriously.

* Bella’s scar: Yes, we see Bella’s scar from James’ attack — and Jacob takes note of it. This is a small moment in the book, but it’s always been one of my favorites and I was glad to see a version of it make it onto the big screen.

* E-mailing Alice: One of my favorite plot devices of New Moon was this little twist. Instead of Bella simply narrating parts of the movie, we get a glimpse inside her head through her e-mails to Alice. The messages all go unanswered (and in fact, are undeliverable) — but it’s a lovely twist to have Bella say, “Dear Alice …” before pouring her heart out about what she’s experiencing and feeling.

* A nitpicky complaint: During a certain sequence depicting the passage of time (yeah, you probably know what I’m talking about), the landscape outside of Bella’s window is shown as a snowy scene for the month of December. Sorry, folks. It does not snow like that in Forks. Yes, towns in the Pacific NW like Forks occasionally get socked in with a winter storm (we saw one in Oregon & Washington last year) — but those are rare.

* PERK: Trailer for Rob Pattinson’s Remember Me (and yes, it looks good!)
* Update: Watch the trailer for Remember Me on MySpace, or here:

For more goodies, check out 30 Days of New Moon.

When you’ve seen The Twilight Saga: New Moon, share your thoughts on the movie in the comments!

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17 Responses

  1. […] Film Review of The Twilight Saga: New Moon Subscribe to the comments for this post?Tweet This!Share this on FacebookAdd this to Google BookmarksStumble upon something good? Share it on StumbleUponShare this on TechnoratiDigg this!Buzz up!Share this on del.icio.usShare this on RedditSeed this on Newsvine […]

  2. Thanks for the review.

  3. Does that picture show Bella and Edward hunting together for the first time in Breaking Dawn? That’s what it looks like to me. 😀

  4. Now I really want to see it. That was a good review, but now i really want to know what the picture is. 😀

  5. I’m certain the scene in reference is the dream sequence, which is pivitol and very important to the whole saga and the very reason why Bella doesn’t want any more birthdays. So I hope that’s what it is, and I’ve been anticipating the dream sequence for months. My 12 yr old daughter will love a shirtless Jacob. You have to remember the target audience is a broad one, so I’m glad it will appease the teens and us 40 somethings out there who love the story. Thanks for such an insightful review! Can’t wait for midnight.

  6. Thanks for the awesome review Sara! The spoilers weren’t too spoily (is that a word?!) OK, now for the real test of the movie … did you cry? (I’m a crier so it doesn’t take much and this BETTER make me cry!) ;-D

  7. […] anything spoiler-ish. Check out our early review of “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” here: And in case you guys missed it, Novel Novice Twilight’s TV appearance aired this week. You […]

  8. Thanks for the review–I’m even more excited. I appreciate the good and the not so good that you wrote about because I think it’s sometimes difficult to prepare yourself even when you know it’s not going to be the same as the book in every way. I had this problem with Twilight and I think I feel more prepared now to go and enjoy New Moon. (Less than 12 hours now!!) 🙂

  9. I waited in line for only an hour and a half last night to see this. I think I should of stayed home and got some sleep and saw this at a regular time. I love the characters and the books. I loved Twilight, but I have to say that New Moon was not as I had expected. They injected too much humor into a tragic love story. Some of the humor was warranted and enjoyed, but most of it made it feel more like a cheap movie. It even seemed the characters had trouble delivering the lines. To have Sam Uley injecting humor was preposterous! He is the aplha male wolf who is serious, not funny. Jasper being humorous, please! He is suppose to be the tormented vampire working hard to resist human blood, who was once a killer of his own kind and he is being humorous, that came off horribly. I also felt as though the transitions did not flow. The Volturri actors, what a joke! I will say that the special effects with the wolves was awesome. I did enjoy many aspect of this movie, but the bad stuff I just can’t shake. I hope Eclipse is much better.

    Disappointed in Pennsylvnia

    • I have to agree with you sherry, some of the actors came off rather stiff and slightly unbelievable.
      im rather dissapointed with how they ended it, right from when alice comes back through to the scenes with Bella an edward in the bedroom. I would have liked them to slow it down a little and kept it truer to the book.

      the fight scene with Edward and Felix was rather enjoyable and (to quote jacob from breaking dawn) Aro was creep-tacular!

      i sincerely hope they dont mangle Eclipse, its one of my fave books of the series

  10. you don’t have to nitpick this at all to realize its a complete waste of time. the cardboard cut out characters have the sexual tension of a stick of tofu, and couldn’t act they’re way out of a wet paper bag. the CGI is laughable, it’s very unintentionally funny in parts that are supposed to be serious, and the ridiculous indie rock soundtrack makes me want to stick icepicks in both my ears. I would rather watch paint dry, than wasting any money seeing this sad excuse for a movie. The book is also on a k2 reading level, so I guess their isn’t much room for improving anything to begin with. Also, to compare this to Romeo and Juliet is insulting. This franchise was obviously made for tweens.

  11. I saw the movie and totally agree with most of this review. This one was made much better because the last one got butchered on screen. I hated it.

    The one thing I do not like about the movie is Bella. No emotions from her. She was the most boring character to watch and very selfish. She cries a lot in the book but she didn’t shed a tear in the movie. Especially when Edward leaves her in the woods..no tears, she frowned.

    Everyone else was fantastic except for Bella. Maybe it’s the actress…did not do a good job. Ok she couldn’t help it because the character was poorly written. I’m in love with Edward and Jasper and I like Jacob a lot. I just couldn’t understand why they would be so in love with her.

    Does anyone understand why they’re so in love with her? What does she do for them? Has she ever done anything for anyone to love her soooo blindly. The only person she shows a little love to is her father. She thinks he’s helpless because he can’t cook…fine but where’s the love?

    Honestly I think she is one of the most boring character written on paper. I’m just a vampire lover that got sucked into this series..hoping for better storytelling. I think I’m in love with the idea that Stephanie created but I can’t see myself as Bella.

  12. It was kind of good there was some parts that were full of drama and suspense, the romance and chemistry in this movie is truly great. Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner were both terrific in this movie, they know how to persuade the watcher to want to see and admire more; but the only thing that was kind of abominable was Kristen Stewart’s acting; I’m not saying she’s a bad actress, but she involves involuntary hesitation, and repetition but I love her awkwardness, and her “I don’t care” personality. So overall I give it a 8 out of 10 I recommend this for teenage girls ages 13-17 who love drama, tragedy, exhilaration and romance.

  13. Thank’s for all the info !:]

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