Monday, December 14, 2009

A "Saga," Indeed...

It wouldn't be enough to just call the movie New Moon. No, that would be putting too much trust in the audience. Instead, let's treat them like morons who wouldn't be able to recognize some of Hollywood's hottest young stars -- not to mention the legions of fans who have already read the books -- by inserting the lame pre-title, The Twilight Saga in smaller font above the real title. I point this annoying fact out because by putting that line above the title, it shows who the real "above the title" star of this movie franchise is: the franchise itself.

Not the actors, who might have talent, but it's obscured by a mythic story that dictates they must not act, but simply brood. Kristen Stewart is a very talented young actress and has been proving it for years. But she is a moody hornball in author Stephenie Meyer's world. Robert Pattinson has become a heartthrob sensation since the original Twilight bowed last November, but this movie series will kill his future if he can't break free from the jaw-biting, sparkly-faced oddity of his characterization. Taylor Lautner worked out a bunch and ate a lot of protein in order to turn himself into this year's most sought-after young hunk...and if he works hard, maybe next year he can be the year's most improved young hunk actor. But probably not, because this franchise wants to turn all young talents into elevated soap opera stars.

Chris Weitz seems like a nice guy, but he is not a good action director. His best work remains 2002's About a Boy, where he worked with his brother, Paul, to create more visual flair in an earthbound film about real people than he's been able to muster himself in the disappointing double-feature that is The Golden Compass and New Moon. Weitz is not a special effects director, but somehow studios keep thinking he is, and that betrayal of reality fits right into this film's purposeful abandonment of logic and humanity. Humanity in this film is just another costume change.

I liked the original Twilight. Sure, it was melodramatic, but the actors had some freedom to do good work, and director Catherine Hardwicke had a true passion to bring the material to cinematic life. It wasn't perfect, but it worked. Then the "Franchise" took over...Hardwicke got the boot (because quality means nothing), the production of New Moon was rushed as if it were a Saw flick (the third film, Eclipse, will debut six months from now), and the melodrama became an unstoppable machine of brooding unreality. As a result, the moronically titled The Twilight Saga: New Moon is an insufferable mess of emotional vomit.

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