‘New Moon’ for hormonal teens — and that’s about it

Posted Nov. 26, 2009, at 8:55 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:57 a.m.

In theaters

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON, directed by Chris Weitz, written by Melissa Rosenberg, 130 minutes, rated PG-13.

The new Chris Weitz movie, “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” had the sold-out audience at my screening heaving and sighing so often — usually when a young man’s shirt came off, which was often — here’s a recommendation for those who haven’t seen it: Bring an oxygen tank. You’ll need it and a mask, particularly in the presence of so much heaving and sighing and busy shiftlessness.

I’m telling you, if the crowd is packed, the air will be sucked free from the room. Just saying.

This follow-up to “Twilight,” which also is based on a Stephenie Meyer’s best-selling novel, is custom-made for hormonal ’tween girls just as the “Star Wars” movies were made for sci-fi loving young boys.

So let’s give it up to its creators because regardless of how drawn out and dumb this movie is, with $142 million in the bank last weekend alone, this movie knows what its audience wants — shirtless boys, chaste kisses, and a female character caught between the hotness of two hotties (a werewolf, a vampire) who apparently is willing to throw garlic cloves to the wind to give her soul to the latter.

About the young woman in question: her name is Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart); she’s slumming in Forks, Wash., with her single dad, Charlie (Billy Burke), and her hormones are boiling over as if lit by a satanic hellfire.

We don’t know this because Bella expresses her emotions easily. She’s nearly a mute, poor thing, parting her lips but saying as little as possible, but because when the vampire, Edward (Robert Pattinson), decides he must remove himself from her life in order to protect her from his kind, she literally writhes in pain, screams out in agony and has nightmares that suggests one hell of an epic yearning.

With Edward gone for most of the movie, there to pick up the pieces for Bella is Jacob (Taylor Lautner), her lifelong friend who wants more than a friendship with her. Together, they grow close over motorcycles, mutual sidelong glances and his bulging new muscles. But here’s the thing; turns out Jacob has a gene that allows him to morph into a werewolf.

Who knew? He didn’t. And here’s the real issue at hand. Just as with Edward, if the two take the risk of edging toward sexual intimacy, Jacob could potentially harm her if things got out of hand between them. After all, all one has to do is look at the shredded face of one of the wives of Jacob’s werewolf leaders to know how dire having sexy times with a werewolf can be. Just as it could with Edward, it might cost Bella her life, or at the very least, a disfigurement. And who wants that?

Bella does — of course, she does — though not with Jacob. She wants Edward, who appears to her in ghostly flashes during those moments when she nearly harms herself. These moments fuel her desire for him even more. After all, he wouldn’t appear to her if he didn’t love her! And so as the movie unfolds, she becomes more and more determined to have him back in her life so she can strip down and give him her, um, soul.

What unspools from this is another glum film about the perils of teen intimacy that still finds life hinging on abstinence and morality. While those are fine messages to send out to young audiences, the way it’s played here is so brooding, it’s nearly bloodless. That is, of course, until the film’s final moments, when real heat emerges in Italy.

Just what goes down there, we’ll leave for you, but it says a lot for the movie that the two most interesting characters come at the end — Dakota Fanning rules the screen as a dead vampire zealot with a mean stare, a tight golden bun and a hot clip; and Michael Sheen creates all kinds of chaos as the leader of all vampires. Each ooze menace to the point that you think, finally, characters who fill up a room, tear up the scenery and allow fear to creep into your heart. These two actors are so superior to the juiceless love otherwise served up in the movie, you can’t help wishing they had a movie of their own.

Grade: C-

WeekinRewind.com is the site for Bangor Daily News film critic Christopher Smith’s blog, DVD giveaways and movie reviews. Smith’s reviews appear Fridays and weekends in Lifestyle, as well as on bangordailynews.com. He may be reached at Christopher@weekinrewind.com.

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New on DVD

Renting a DVD? NEWS film critic Christopher Smith can help. Below are his grades of recent releases. Those capped and in bold print are new to stores this week.

Adventureland — B+

Angels & Demons — C-

Body of Lies — C

Bruno — C

Coraline — A

Drag Me to Hell — B+

Dragonball: Evolution — C

Duplicity — C+

Eagle Eye — D

Earth — B

Elegy — A-

Fast & Furious — B-

Funny People — C+

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past — D

Gran Torino — A-

Hannah Montana: The Movie — C-

I Love You, Man — B+

Knowing — B

Land of the Lost — BOMB

My Bloody Valentine 3-D — B-

Observe and Report — C-

Obsessed — C-

Orphan — C-

The Proposal — C+

Push — C-

Race to Witch Mountain — C-

Role Models — B+

17 Again — C

Star Trek — A-

State of Play — B-

Sunshine Cleaning — B

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 — B

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen — D

Up — B+

Valkyrie — B+

W. — C-

Watchmen — D

X-Men Origins: Wolverine — B-

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