2 Stars - Weak
Based on the four-book series by Stephenie Meyer, this is the second book made into film with a third on the way. The books as a series won the 2009 Kids Choice Award and have sold over 85 million copies. However, this literary success does not translate well into cinema. Directed by Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass), this second film is titled “New Moon.”
Written as a romance novel for children, the insights are shallow and the pace is slow. Using the current popularity of vampires, the film plays off the self-loathing of these self-proclaimed soulless former humans with their perverse addiction to human blood.
However, the Cullen family of vampires is attempting to live their lives without killing humans. The handsome Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) even falls in love with a young human named Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart). As her name describes, Bella is a beautiful but vulnerable teenager who desperately needs Edward’s love. This is the focus of the story as she is willing to surrender her soul in order to join Edward in his immortal life.
But Edward and his family consider the life of a vampire as not one to ask a person you love to join. This makes Edward’s love one that cannot be fulfilled and so creates the tension of the romantic tale. When Edward leaves Bella so that she can live life as a human, her teen heartbreak is overwhelming.
Into her pain comes a long-time friend, Jake Black (Taylor Lautner), who is also going through the change of his life. We won’t reveal all that change produces except to say that his love for Bella creates the second romantic tension.
In a self-revealing moment of cinema, Bella and her friend Jessica (Anna Kendrick) watch a movie about zombies with Jessica asking if this is some kind of allegorical message. That is the question that viewers have about New Moon. Is the author using vampires and werewolves to describe some primitive or universal archetype of romantic fears and desires? Does our mortality get in the way of love? Is love destined to suck the life out of us? Is there a wolf within each of us that is as dangerous as it is powerful?
New Moon moves slowly but there are moments when the pace quickens, as in the battle scenes between the werewolves and the vampires, or when the vampires are themselves in battle. There is also a moment where self-sacrificing love is heralded. But, if one believes that love is a battlefield, then this film is in support of that twisted notion.
Discussion for those who have seen the film:
- Why do you believe there is so much current interest in vampires? What do they represent in human life? Do you think there are humans among us who drink human blood? If so, what would cause them to do such a thing?
- The teen angst which Bella portrays is fitting for a person her age, but if Edward is over one hundred years old, then why would he have a similar angst? Do you believe it is Bella’s unique ability to resist his mind-reading capacity that makes her a person of interest? If you knew every thought of your lover, would that be a help or hindrance?
- Do you believe that love is a battlefield? Why or why not? If not, what do you believe is the source and nature of love?