Probably there are various people who will kick me off the internet for saying this, but I only watched Twilight once. I’ve still only seen it once. The first viewing left me no desire to see it again. I hated the blue color of everything, and Rob and Kristen, while each very good in other roles just were not hitting Edward and Bella for me. I wanted Edward to be more graceful and charming than Rob’s constant and impressive I-hate-myself demeanor, and I wanted Bella to have a bit more childlike naïveté and clumsiness. But that’s just me. So while of course I knew they were going to go and make New Moon… well. Despite it being my favorite of the three books (I forget about Breaking Dawn) I didn’t know how excited I’d be about the movie.
Even when I started watching the teaser trailer… mostly I rolled my eyes. “This is the last time you’ll ever see me.” Yeah, right, Rob. I believe you there. But then. Oh, then.
Yes, watching Taylor Lautner run to protect Bella and fursplode into a wolf had me BEYOND gleeful. Oh Jacob Black. Somehow even now I underestimate my love for you. I admit, Taylor still isn’t my dream Jacob Black. He’s just not who I see when I read. But the kid is just so darn HOT cute. And he loves the character so much, that I can’t help but adore him in the film.
My other hesitance to see it was the obvious focus on the action and the Volturi. I mean… it looked like a vampire movie. hahaha And I did not read the Twilight Saga for the action. I read it for the werewolves, obviously.
That said, with the money they raked in over Twilight, of course this was going to be a better-made movie. You could tell from the trailer alone that this was going to be well… more like a real movie. And heaven help it, it almost was.
I was impressed right off the bat that they used not only the quote from the beginning of New Moon, but the prologue moment from the book as well. Immediately I sat up a little bit straighter in my seat, and perked up. I did mention this was probably my favorite of the books, right? The pacing was just off from the beginning, though. It felt stilted and rushed at the same time, if somehow that’s possible. They were skipping right over all the sweet little moments between Edward and Bella that makes them enjoyable, and while Edward definitely smiled more in this film, the sense of humor that sparkles on the page (yes, even more than his skin, if I do say so myself) just was not there. In fact, I kept looking at Rob and thinking, why is he smiling right now? Wasn’t he just angsting about Jacob?
The minute Edward and the Cullens skip town, the movie picked up, though. And not just because it takes less than five minutes (or seeme) before they had Taylor’s shirt off for the first time. There really is something magnetic about Jacob that I think Taylor captured really well—if anything Bella seemed more in love with Jacob on the film than she had in the book. While Kristen’s stiff performance still isn’t the Bella in my head, I really enjoyed watching her version of Bella hang out with Jacob. We didn’t get to see as much as their bonding as I would have liked, but movies do have to fit a certain time slot, so I guess I don’t mind too much. My one complaint (and this is a slight spoiler but just a teensy one) is that they had Bella telling Jacob that she didn’t like music anymore, when in the book, this is something that Jacob knows without needing to be told—a proof of the close attention he pays to Bella and how well he reads and understands her.
I really enjoyed the Quileute presence in this film though. Firstly—Graham Greene as Harry Clearwater! I remember Meyer saying on her site once that she’d like him as Billy Black, but that never would have worked for me. Maybe because I don’t really like Billy all that much? I just sort of hold a grudge against him for being so cryptic first about the Cullens and then about Jacob’s change. I don’t know. I’m just not much of a fan. But I just about flipped to see him playing Harry Clearwater. And I loved that they showed it so that Harry’s heart attack was a result of coming face to face with Victoria—if that was in the book I don’t remember it, but that was an awesome visual moment in the movie, and only Graham Greene could have made it what it was. The man has a grace and presence that outshone almost everyone else in the film, and he was only in it for about five minutes.
I was also delighted that they kept in the moment with Sam’s fiancée Emily. Beyond delighted. It was such a lovely moment in the book, and it was nice to see it’s elegance recognized in the film. Everybody’s been saying it, but it’s really true. The Wolf boys made this movie. In fact, even though Italy is where a lot of the hyped-up action happens, my attention wandered a little bit while they were there. I snapped back into it when they confronted Jacob in the woods that last time. Even when Bella and Edward were reunited, they didn’t seem to hit the mark of the little funny/sweet moments between them that makes them so enjoyable. I’ve got to admit, if I’d never read the books, I’d think Bella was a headcase going from the prettyboy wolf to the pale, emo vamp.
I did think that some of the cinematic moments were nicely done, though. Bella’s imaginings of Edward were almost how I imagined them (though now that I think about it, the movie didn’t so much as try to explain that) and the “time passing” moment was perfect. Also… dare I say it seemed like they gave a nod to David Yates using footage from the first film so freely in flashbacks?
So was this movie a lot better than Twilight? An emphatic yes. Did it live up to my excessive love of the novel? No. But it was pretty far from a disappointment either. I have to admit that after watching it, I later found myself literally hugging my book. In fact, I sort of want to go hug it now. And reread it, immediately. Meyer, whatever disputes I have with you, your books enthrall me, it’s true.
New Moon gets a B- from me. It was awkward and badly paced… but Jacob Black lit up the screen, and anybody in the scene with him.