Thursday, December 3, 2009
At the Starbucks I frequent each morning, there are always two tip containers labeled with opposing topics (e.g., beach or lake, Yankees or Phillies). It’s a clever way to encourage tipping from patrons who can, at the same time, air their daily opinions. On November 20, the day “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” opened in theaters, the tip cups read “New Moon” and “Don’t Care.” That’s basically the sum of my experiences when discussing “The Twilight Saga” with just about anyone – they either love it or hate it, and accordingly think “Twilight” fans are soul mates or crazies. Given the fact that a friend and I traveled 3,000 miles to stand on the red carpet for the premiere of “New Moon,” you can guess which container my tip went into that day, and to which group I owe my allegiance.
My friend and I arrived in LA around noon on the Sunday before the scheduled Monday night premiere, and went to what was then the back of the red carpet fan line. We set up camp for the night, knowing we would be in line for almost 30 hours before the stars came out. We soon found out that we were numbers 501 and 502 in line, and the girls at the front of the line had been there since Thursday; by the next morning there were several hundred people behind us. In the end, only 550 fans were admitted to the red carpet area. Had we arrived an hour later, we might not have made the cut. Lucky for us, our place on the sidewalk was right behind a 24-hour gourmet supermarket. We had food, coffee, and most importantly, bathrooms in close proximity. Unlucky for us, it was unseasonably cold for LA that night and absolutely sweltering the next day. “Twilight” fans are resilient, however, so we piled on layers of clothes after dark and shed as many as possible the next day.
We were corralled into the red carpet fan area around 3:00 pm to wait for the stars to begin arriving around 5:00 pm. When you love “The Twilight Saga” as much as we do, being on the red carpet is both madcap and magical. All the crazy “Twi-hards” in one place, we screamed, we giggled, we took pictures, we got autographs, and we were totally exhausted after. There was an age range of fans from tweens to grandmas, and surprisingly, a good number of males were in the group. It was a grand adventure!
I am a diehard fan of the books; I love the characters, the writing, and the romance. I don’t see them as “morality plays,” just a fun read. In my opinion, a movie, no matter how well made, cannot do justice to these books. It is fun to see the physical manifestation of the book characters via a movie; however, I kept my expectations low for “New Moon,” as I did for “Twilight.” The shortcoming of all four movies is the need to condense the story into two hours of film, with much less time in Bella’s head and much more action. The real enjoyment you get from these books comes from being in Bella’s head, something in this genre (vampires and werewolves) that does not translate well to film.
“New Moon” is my least favorite of the four books (due mainly to Edward’s absence – Go Team Edward); however, it’s the most intriguing. Chris Weitz did a good job of bringing a watered-down version of the book to film. It’s a better product that the first movie, but there was a bigger budget this time and the story lends itself to more action sequences.
Here’s the short version of my opinions on the movie:
Rob Pattinson – perfect, love him as Edward – in solid or shadowy form.
Taylor Lautner – did not fail to deliver, physically stunning, emotionally adept in the role.
Kristen Stewart – not happy with her “nightmares” or her display of emotion when Edward left, but pleased with her desperation to save him while running through the square in Italy.
The Edward/Bella/Jacob triangle – pretty good, I could be convinced that Rob and Taylor hate each other, and Kristen loves them both.
Ashley Greene – didn’t love her expanded performance as Alice, but she didn’t have much script to work with.
The Wolf Pack – cute boys with their shirts off, not enough time on screen to develop the characters.
The Volturi – Michael Sheen nailed it as Aro, absolutely loved him; Dakota Fanning had her usual strong screen presence and really did justice to those red contact lenses.
The Cullens – all dolled-up and nowhere to go, not enough screen time.
The CG wolves – not bad, surprised by how seamlessly they phased from human to wolf.
The Edward/Felix fight – this doesn’t happen in the book, it’s a mental test of wills, not a physical fight - the added action was good for the movie but the scene ended awkwardly.
Overall – props to Chris Weitz for making the most of a difficult book-to-film translation and to Melissa Rosenberg for scripting more closely to the book this time around.