Cinema Thoughts

New Moon

For Twilight fans New Moon will be their equivalent of The Empire Strikes Back although for everyone else it’s going to be another teen vampire movie.

New Moon tickets

For Twilight fans New Moon will be their equivalent of The Empire Strikes Back although for everyone else it’s going to be another teen vampire movie.

For the uninitiated the Twilight films are based on the mega-selling novels by Stephenie Meyer which have been translated into over 20 languages worldwide.

There are currently four books: Twilight (2005), New Moon (2006), Eclipse (2007) and Breaking Dawn (2008) and they have a combined sale of over 25 million copies.

New Moon posterWhen someone at MTV films made the (now catastrophic) decision to pass on making the film adaptations, newcomer Summit Entertainment stepped up and a lucrative film franchise was born.

The first film Twilight, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, came out last year and starred Kristen Stewart as Bella, a teenage girl who falls in love with a vampire, played by Robert Pattinson.

It grossed over $383 million worldwide, making instant stars of Pattinson and Stewart and also causing wild scenes of fandom at various premieres around the world.

I interviewed Pattinson last year and the resulting podcast was one of the most popular things on this site as Twilight fans downloaded it in droves.

At the premiere later that evening, the massed ranks of teenage girls screaming at him and the cast was something like The Beatles at Shea Stadium in 1965.

The new film is expected to do even better: a ‘fan event’ attended by the stars last week in Battersea (complete with red carpet interviews) was so big some radio stations even mistook it for a premiere.

I got a sneak peak of New Moon yesterday at a press screening in London and the audience mostly consisted of media folk (like me), teenage girls and their parents.

The story involves Edward having to go away, Bella discovering new things about her friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner) and a mysterious vampire from the past named Aro (Michael Sheen).

Bearing in mind that I am way out of the target demographic for this material, here are my main thoughts:

  • It is slightly more expansive in terms of the locations (the action even shifts to Italy at one point)
  • Technically, it is an improvement on the original as the supernatural action is more convincingly done.
  • The narrative drags here and there but mostly moves along in a brisk and accessible fashion.
  • Fans of Edward may be a little disappointed that he isn’t in the story for long stretches.
  • Anna Kendrick is funny – she should be given a larger role next time.
  • For people unfamiliar with the books, brush up on Wikipedia or some things are going to leave you a little confused.
  • As a middle story (like The Empire Strikes Back) it leaves a few threads to be tantalisingly picked up on in the next film.
  • The last line of the film is clever as it pushes all the buttons of the audience …all at once.

My basic take is that this is essentially another reasonably well made fantasy film – a franchise like Star Wars or Harry Potter but moulded especially for teenage girls.

But despite the lack of genuine magic, there is no doubt that it will dominate the box office this month and make those publishers and executives who originally turned it down continue to tear their hair out.