Reveling in the Twilight phenomenon(Also published in the Berthoud Weekly Surveyor and at Heiditown.com)
I considered whether or not to review “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” this week because, well, it would mean coming completely out of the closet. Yes, I’m one of those sane, rational women who woke up one day inexplicably obsessed with a series of books about teenagers, supernatural and otherwise. By the way, Stephenie Meyer didn’t actually write them for teenagers but the publishers marketed them that way, ergo the stigma. Fortunately, in the past nine months I’ve discovered I’m in good company with millions of other women — women of all ages, cultures, incomes and reasons for drinking the “Twilight” kool-aid.
Now that my confession is out of the way, I’ll admit I was underwhelmed by the first movie, “Twilight,” which was directed by Catherine Hardwick. But the cast was great and by time I saw it, I already knew I had the sequel to look forward to. “New Moon” was my favorite book of the series and I followed the production of the movie — this time helmed by Chris Weitz — like a seasoned industry insider.
After months of anticipation I decided to embrace the frenzy and actually attend the midnight showing on November 19. Sure, I was a little terrified of being surrounded by screaming teenagers whose mothers irresponsibly allowed to skip school the following day. But I realized this was a cult phenomenon like none other and damn it, I didn’t want to miss it! Surprisingly, I found a few other friends who were just as brave and curious and we purchased our tickets to the seventh showing of the evening. Seventh, because the previous six were sold out. Oh, what had I gotten myself into?
The date finally arrived and we celebrated the event — and curbed the panic — with a few pre-screening drinks. Then we were ready for the lines, the hordes, the teenage Twi-hards, even the rioting. Bring it on. A little after 11 p.m. we walked straight into the theater, handed our tickets to the pimply-faced usher who was probably in an estrogen-induced coma, and took our seats. Seriously. It was that anti-climactic and I found myself looking around in disappointment for a glimmer of fan mania.
The theater was packed with mostly college-aged girls and older, and even several guys. Once the movie got under way there were a few gasps at the beefcake, lots of laughing in the appropriate places, and enthusiastic applause at the end. This movie was for the fans and they (we) knew it.
If you’re not familiar with the saga, it centers around an average teenage girl named Bella who moves to a small town and falls head over heels (literally falls, because clumsy is one of her stronger character traits) for Edward, a beautiful, brooding vampire who will be 17 forever. “Twilight” is about their blossoming love and “New Moon” is about their break-up and the ensuing drama and pain felt by all involved. But Bella reconnects with her childhood friend Jacob and pulls out of her deep depression only to find out he’s a werewolf. It must be something in the water.
Chris Weitz spent months assuring fans that he was working closely with Meyer on bringing
the book to life as faithfully as possible. He had to have been intimidated because there are those (not me, of course) who could quote all their favorite parts and insist each and every word and nuance make it to the final cut. I knew that wouldn’t happen but what he did include — or even added — was pretty close to perfect.
It’s hard not to review this show without comparisons to the first one, and in fact when I asked a couple of people at the theater what they thought, the common theme was “way better than the first one.” Sorry Catherine, but you drowned “Twilight” in a blue wash and now that’s all I can see. That — and Kristen Stewart’s excessive blinking and twitching. Stewart apparently read the criticisms and left her tics and stutters for the promotional interviews. This Bella was much more dimensional for me and I could start to appreciate what all the boys saw in her. Sort of.
Robert Pattinson, who plays Edward, also seemed to embody his immortal hunk much more comfortably this time around, although dressing him in suits and wing tips made him look closer to my age than 17 — oh, wait, that’s a good thing. Taylor Lautner as Jacob was more of the star in this film and although I’m 100 percent Team Edward, I admit Lautner really delivered. Much has been said about his impressive physical transformation for the role, but his emotional investment brought it home.
I didn’t cry like I was hoping to, but I laughed much more than I thought I would. The human classmates of Bella’s got all the best lines, and as in “Twilight,” Billy Burke (Bella’s father) chewed up each scene he was in no matter how few words he uttered. There were additions to the story and more action but it all fit well and the cinematography was vivid and rich.
When it was over, my non-Twi-hard friend speculated that someone who hadn’t read the book would be totally lost. I can’t be objective because I have read it — several times. When I thought about it, I didn’t really care. And with a record-breaking weekend haul of $142 million, I’m clearly not alone.
Whatever addictive drug Stephenie Meyer infused the pages of her series with, Chris Weitz did likewise with film. Thanks anyway, but I don’t want rehab — I’m holding out for a hit of “Eclipse” which opens in June.