When Bad Does Bad (OR: A Grown Man Watches ‘New Moon’)
Yesterday, I talked about the communal experience that is watching an awful movie with a like-minded audience. It led me to the theory that the quality of a movie can sometimes be secondary to the enthusiasm of the viewers.
With that in mind, I popped in Twilight: New Moon. Because based on my experience with the first film in the ridiculously popular teen-vampire franchise, I knew there was no way of being pleasantly surprised.
But indeed I was. Because somehow, New Moon managed to be even more awful than its predecessor.
So I am here to spread the pain.
Before I get into the utter, hilarious horror that was Twilight: New Moon, I want to get something out of the way: I do not blame the director, Chris Weiss, at all. He tried so, SO hard, to make this something watchable, including whittling down what I’m sure were many long, tedious chunks of inept narration into multiple brief montages, and amping up the few action sequences into moments that at the very least made things blessedly interesting for a couple of minutes here and there.
(Chris Weiss directed The Golden Compass, too – which is a near-perfect adaptation of the young-adult fantasy novel, provided you don’t consider the crucial last chapter – the one that changes all the characters’ relationships and pulls an irrevocable game-changer on the plot – all that, y’know, important.)
Unfortunately, he brought his talents to a script that can, at best, be termed, “Abominable.”
Let me see if I can recap the plot to New Moon – which is actually more difficult than recapping the first one, for reasons that aren’t immediately clear to me other than you know how sequels are more complex and involved that the initial chapter? Well, this is like that, but without the benefit of being at all interesting.
So: It’s Bella’s birthday, and after moping around some (actually, if you can put the phrase “after moping around some” before EVERYTHING BELLA DOES, it will save me some typing time), she goes to a party at the vampire Cullen clan’s. Then she gets a papercut and the Harpo-Marx-looking one freaks the fuck out. Which is when it suddenly dawns on this clan of vampires that hanging around with their primary food source is probably a bad idea, and they move to Italy.
This does not sit well with Bella, who has apparently come to crave the stern admonishments of her vampire boyfriend, and so engages in some retarded displays of risky behavior so she can imagine her boyfriend scolding her.
You just let that soak in for a while.
Meanwhile, she’s gotten closer to Jacob, a boy who can find virtually any excuse to take his shirt off, and actually, he seems kinda charming and level-headed, which of course makes him the Baxter of this particular franchise, even though he too is prone to ordering Bella around and telling her he’s too dangerous to be around. Which, naturally, keeps Bella sticking around, because she is just that much of a cliché.
Also there’s a redheaded vampire who wants to attack Bella for being, um…Bella, I guess. Also that dreadlocked vampire dude who seemed pretty live-and-let-live last movie now feels he can just go ahead and eat her. So the werewolves (who don’t require a full moon – or even nightfall at all! – to change, but this is a series where sunlight makes vampires look like Glitter-Eggs, so who cares, I guess) go hunting for the dick vampires. This plot quickly fades into the background.
Then, because of Bella’s spectacularly stupid displays of recklessness, Edward believes Bella has killed herself. This is because his psychic sister’s abilities are apparently quite crap – she can see Bella jump off a cliff into the water, but apparently doesn’t see her getting out again. So he prostrates himself to the grand (and hyper-effeminate for no apparent reason other than to make L’Estat look totally butch in comparison) vampire high council and attempts to out himself as a vampire (again, by showing just how shiny he is in broad daylight – which will cause a bunch of red-robed monks to beat him to death…or something?).
Bella goes to stop him from doing this (this involves so much slow-motion running that you cannot possibly believe it), and they’re both brought to the fey council, who marvel at Bella’s invulnerability to their (seemingly random) extra superpowers (seriously – it’s not enough you’re a vampire, you get to be telekinetic, too? And none of the usual vulnerabilities apply? WHERE IS THE DOWN SIDE AGAIN?).
So, then, Bella goes home, and the Cullen family agrees that, yeah, why not make Bella a vampire…after senior year. Because otherwise her dad will be upset (we will ignore that her dad would probably be more upset at the whole “vampirism” thing, and less so at the inconvenient timing for his daughter). And she gives the total “let’s just be friends” speech to Jacob (who, really, deserves much better).
Then before Edward agrees to make her a vampire, he proposes to Bella. Because, see, getting bitten is still a weak metaphor for losing one’s virginity, and this movie, abstinence is…ugh, you know what? This is getting long as it is. WHATEVER. And then millions of 14-year-old girls go SQUEEEEE and the story’s over.
I have to have been missing something. Let me check the Wikipedia recap of the book.
Ah, okay, I did miss a key part of that: “Edward gives Bella a choice: either she lets Carlisle change her after her graduation, or, if Bella agrees to marry him, he will change her himself.”
You just let THAT part sink in now.
If you have managed to read this far, I apologize. You are all now stupider than you were before you started reading this. But I suffered the most (outside of Tad, who actually read all these awful books).
But I have developed a theory: Stephanie Meyer is NOT an awful novelist. She is, in fact, a literary Ashton Kutcher, punking us all into believing that someone could write this kind of baffling silliness as though it were Serious Drama. And when the joke is finally revealed (we will know it’s been revealed when Meyer jumps out in front of the audience at the opening night of the next Twilight movie, wearing a sideways trucker cap and shouting “AAAA!!! Y’ALL JUST GOT PUNK’D! BOO-YAH!” as per time-honored ritual), we will all be given a lot to think about on the subject of what it means to write a book about vampires that aren’t harmed by the sun, and werewolves who don’t change at night, and teenage girls who are written as broad caricatures that only care about being brooding and being scolded by their boyfriend/father-figures while hoping they will finally propose.
And I think, only then, will we truly learn more about ourselves.
PROVE ME WRONG, “TWILIGHT: ECLIPSE.”
*Because I had such a blast watching Twilight with the Rifftrax commentary, I made sure to purchase the New Moon commentary as well. And man, they did not disappoint. Let it be known that the only way to watch a movie as bad as this is with the skilled commentary of professional movie-mockers. If you can fit Snausage references and the idea of “Grenade Bowling with Gary Busey” into a Twilight commentary, you have helped the world a great deal.