Friday, November 20, 2009

Could I Maybe Try an Older Moon?

Twilight Saga: New Moon
Directed by Chris Weitz

1/2 star (out of four)

"Little Miss Mopey Picks Her Monster Mate" is a joyless mass of incompetent storytelling, embellished with laughably bad dialogue and a complete lack of wonder. It refuses to offer the slimmest bit of insight into teenage love, and instead indulges in absurd fantasies of despair. As the film began, my patience was tested with a long, drawn-out reveal of the film's title, but that was nothing compared to the 130 minutes that followed.
Kristen Stewart reprises the role of Little Miss Mopey, whom you will no doubt remember from "Googling About Vampires," the first screen adaptation of "author" Stephenie Meyer's obscenely popular book series—sorry, saga. As we rejoin her, she has just turned 18 and is still deeply in love with her vampire boyfriend, Magic Hair (Robert Pattinson), who is forever trapped in a 17-year-old's ice-cold yet oh-so-hot body. "You give me a reason to live just by breathing," he actually says. For real. But Magic Hair soon abandons Little Miss Mopey, which only serves to aggravate her mopiness.

Director Chris Weitz usually shows not even a modicum of excitement for the supernaturally overcast land of Washington state depicted in the film. On the rare occasions when he braves moderately adventurous territory, his insecurities sparkle like a vampire in the sun (?). In his most ambitious shot, the camera circles the room to show the seasons changing out the window while our star moper mopes interminably. Each time the weather changes, a title card appears up to tell us what month it is, as if we'd have otherwise assumed that a fresh coat of snow replaced the autumn leaves while the camera was looking the other way.

The only thing that gives Mopey any energy is danger, presumably because a ghostly vision of Magic Hair appears to tell her to stop doing stupid shit. She says (in the most boring way possible, of course) that she's become an adrenaline junkie. I guess that's one way to make her romanticized suicide attempts more palatable. To help her repair some old motorcycles, she enlists The Shirtless Wonder (Taylor Lautner), her totally ripped childhood friend who happens to be a werewolf.

Considering how glaringly clear it's been that he's a werewolf since the beginning of the first film, it takes a painfully long time for Little Miss Mopey to sort it out. Their relationship is basically the same setup as "Googling About Vampires." Something strange is happening, but damned if Mopey can figure out what it is. Not to be outdone by Magic Hair in the dialogue department, he says things like, "I feel like I'm going to disappear."

The Shirtless Wonder never replaces Magic Hair in Mopey's heart, but at least he's a man and he shows interest in her, and therefore gives her life meaning. Yes, without a man, Little Miss Mopey's life is completely dire. She might as well be dead without someone there to validate her existence. She exists as nothing more than the vessel of convenient plot whims.

The saga's abstinence allegory manifests strongly in this film, as Mopey is desperate for Magic Hair's cock—err…I mean to become a vampire so she can be with Edward forever—but he doesn't want to corrupt her and damn her soul, and tells her to wait. It doesn't make much sense, but results in some shapeless drama. And who can complain about teaching teenage girls to throw themselves at men, who will in turn nobly refuse them? Not I, not I.

You'd expect to find a lot of dramatic tension surrounding a lady who has a werewolf and a vampire after her affection, but no. Mopey never wavers in her love for Magic Hair, and so we know she won't fall too deep for The Shirtless Wonder. And without such inner-turmoil, there's precious little left.

The filmmakers' general inability to inject their story with urgency results in the dullest of villains, Fire Crotch (Rachelle Lefevre), whose continued stalking of Little Miss Mopey marks the cliff-hanger ending of the first film. She is mad because Magic Hair's family killed her boyfriend, who wanted to drink that mopiest of all blood. So now, we learn that she is still on the warpath, and without Magic Hair, Miss Mopey needs The Shirtless Wonder and his wolf pack's protection to be safe.

The plotline goes that far and absolutely no further. The last time we see Fire Crotch, she is coming toward Mopey. Then she disappears in between shots during editing, never to be seen for the rest of the film. Seriously. This first-act gun isn't even mentioned in the third act. I know, I know, this is a serialized story and Fire Crotch will indeed appear next film, mysteriously transformed into Bryce Dallas Howard. But that doesn't give writers and directors free license to establish someone to be of vital importance to the story at hand, then ignore her existence. But when the story itself holds no importance, I suppose it's foolish to expect anything from the characters.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This pretty much rules. Thank you for giving all us "Over-the-Twilight-Frenzy" people something to latch onto.