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Monday, November 23, 2009

New Moon

My Aunt Gerta was a werewolf, so I think when it comes to New Moon I think I have a little prejudice in favor of “Camp Jacob” as the Twilight fans call the folks who choose lycanthrope Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner; tv’s "My Own Worst Enemy") over vampire protagonist Edward Cullen as they vie for the love of seemingly brain-dead Bella Swan. Okay, let me back up and be honest. My Aunt Gerta wasn’t really a werewolf. She just looked like one once menopause hit. Every month or so she’d sprout more facial hair than a sixteen year old Italian boy and gets as cranky as any wild beast in the woods. She’d growl and threaten to kill anyone who left a dish in her sink or snickered at her Frida Kahlo unibrow. Who knew all it would take to vanquish a werewolf is a simple estrogen patch?

So my perfect husband and I went to see The Twilight Saga: New Moon last weekend at the Essex Cinemas with a theater full of teenage girls, all of whom must have been under the impression that this was an audience participation film because they never stopped giggling, gasping and groaning from beginning to end. The fact that they reacted with such verve to every turn of the glacially s-l-o-w  moving plot seemed odd since one might expect that they would have read the Twilight books and already knew that it is a fait accompli as to who Bella was going to end up bumping nasties with for the long haul.

And speaking of which, I found my mind wandering during The Twilight Saga: New Moon to extrapolate a tad bit further than what author Stephanie Meyer and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg (tv’s “Dexter”) probably wanted me to. For instance, in one pivotal scene, boring Bella (Kristen Stewart; Adventureland) fantasizes seeing herself in the future as an old woman with Edward (Robert Pattinson; Little Ashes), who has not aged at all. Her concern, as a human, is that Edward will lose interest in her since she will continue to age and eventually die. As if saggy boobs and wrinkles are the worst she has to worry about. After all, she’s having sex with a DEAD guy. Hello?!, and he’s 109 years old, so basically this is a love triangle between a teenage girl and an animated corpse and an animal that will leave fur all over the furniture. All of the violins in the world and sparkly special effects can’t cover up the fact that New Moon is a love story chalk full of pedophilia, necrophilia, and bestiality. Not to mention the possibility that Bella could get a bad case of fleas depending on whom she lies down with.

Oh sure, the “grand design” of New Moon is to fulfill every teenage girl’s need for romance, and on that level it is a great success. Considering the panting sounds coming from two rows behind us it was apparently also satisfying on a deeper level, hitting more than an occasional (G) spot that was sending the girls in the audience into a stupor. It’s understandable when you realize that for at least half the movie hunky werewolves Jacob, Embry (debuting Kiowa Gordon), Jared (Bronson Pelletier; tv’s "Renegadepress.com"), Paul (Alex Meraz; Two Spirits, One Journey), and Sam (Chaske Spencer; Red Dead Revolver) are shirtless and deliciously pumped up with more muscles than you’d find at a steroid rehab clinic. Much has been made in the press about Taylor Lautner’s transformation from 16-year-old kid actor to 17-year-old super-hunk in an effort to ensure that he wouldn’t be replaced in the role he originated in Twilight, and he has indeed undergone a remarkable change, though not as spectacular as the conversion he makes from Native American to Lycanthrope American thanks to some very slick effects. The sporadic move from species to species is fast and beautiful, not at all the grinding pain one has come to expect from other werewolf spectacles such as An American Werewolf in London and Wolf.

New Moon is like the flip side of its predecessor as Edward takes a long absence from the screen so that Jacob and his pack of hirsute relatives can step front and center. Unfortunately, the story still hangs entirely on Bella and her relationship with Edward. She pines for him throughout, treating Jacob more like a puppy than a big bad wolf, and, worse yet, he lets her. Granted, it might be more tolerable if someone other than Kristen Stewart was providing us with her usual one-note performance, a cross between a kind of vegetative state and death. Hopefully director Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass) will poke her with a cattle prod to elicit a conscious response on-screen by the third film. Either that or just let Jacob bite her head off and find us a new female lead.

The gaggle of gigglers behind my perfect husband and me gasped in shock at the cliffhanger ending of the movie, which would come as no surprise to anyone who could actually read, but apparently the majority of these hormonal hussies was interested only in the movie version of these tales because reading is something they only do when required to by law. The concept of a film actually following the plot of its source material is usually rare in Hollywood, but Meyer has her hands all over these movies, much like J.K. Rowling has with her Harry Potter series. It shows, and for genuine fans of the written page this is a plus. For those of us in the audience who are forced to sit amongst the mouth-breathing gum-chewers without a clue it’s a curse. Maybe by the time The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is released they’ll have checked out the Wikipedia if nothing else so the rest of the theater can hear the dialogue on-screen. Let’s hope because I’m already whittling myself a couple of wooden stakes just in case I need to shut a few folks up.

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